November 19, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

Proposed Changes for Public Charge Rule

CMF’s Public Policy Committee reviewed proposed changes to the public charge rule at their meeting last week, as the federal government is accepting feedback on the potential changes through December 10. Funders are encouraged to study the issue and submit feedback before the December deadline.

Since 1999, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has followed the guidelines that if an applicant for a green card or VISA has the likelihood of “becoming primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” for welfare, Supplementary Security Income (SSI) or assistance for long-term care - meaning that they are likely to become a public charge – it is grounds to be denied citizenship.

The proposed changes would expand the reach of how public charge is defined. Instead of assessing whether an individual may become “primarily dependent,” DHS would examine 15 factors to determine if the person may ever be considered financially vulnerable and need to access any programs. The list of programs would be expanded to include: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); Section 8 Housing Voucher Program; Section 8 Rental Assistance; and certain aspects of the Medicaid and Medicare Part D low-income subsidy program.

According to Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), if this same “test” were applied to Americans, up to one out of every three would fail the test.

GCIR shared in a statement, “If enacted, it would put millions of working-class immigrant families already here at greater risk of hunger, poverty, homelessness and other hardships—and destabilize communities across the country.” GCIR suggests that the fear of immigration consequences that has already led many immigrants to dis-enroll themselves and their children from programs for which they qualify would be followed by millions more people disenrolling if the new rules were enacted, “whether or not the change actually applies to them.”

Forbes reports that changes to the public charge rule “could have a dramatic impact on immigrants, temporary visa holders and U.S. employers.”

“A U.S. employer is going to find it more difficult and much less predictable to extend the status of a highly skilled worker on an H-1B visa or to help switch a key recruit from a student visa to an H-1B,” Doug Rand, former assistant director for entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy told Forbes. “Unless the employer is paying the worker more than that newly made-up threshold – 250 percent of the poverty line – they might not be able to renew their work visa and stay in the United States.”

DHS is accepting public comment on the proposed rule changes until December 10. GCIR’s goal is to secure a minimum of 100 foundation submissions, noting that such comments do not constitute lobbying.

GCIR has identified four additional ways that funders against this proposal can take action:

  • Deploy support for urgent advocacy, organizing and litigation efforts.

  • Encourage grantees and broader networks to voice their concerns via public comments. The Protecting Immigrant Families campaign has a goal of 100,000 unique comments.

  • Declare your institution’s objection to the rule in the public sphere by issuing statements, penning op-eds or blogposts and engaging through social media.

  • Urge philanthropic colleagues, civic and faith leaders, the private sector and other stakeholders to act.

Want more?

Learn more about the proposal via the Federal Register.

Read the entire GCIR Statement.


Welcoming New Legislators

With the midterm elections complete, we are providing a resource for your organization to reach out to the new officials in your area. This is an opportune time to talk about the work you do and the active partnership between Michigan philanthropy and our elected leaders.

Together with our colleagues at the Michigan Nonprofit Association, we have drafted a sample letter you can use for outreach to your new, local representatives. (View and download the letter by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.) The content can be copied and pasted onto your own letterhead and mailed, or it may provide helpful talking points as you craft your own message. You can view a list of the newly elected officials by district on the Michigan Secretary of State website.

The sample letter includes reference to the fact that together with MNA, we have a long history of building and supporting a strong, nonprofit charitable sector that:

  • Employs one in every 10 Michiganders, a total of nearly 450,000 jobs.

  • Works with the Legislature through a bipartisan, bicameral nonprofit caucus.

  • Has a history of public-private partnerships on issues such as education, health, early childhood and food access.

  • Collaborates through a Nonprofit Council to the Charitable Trust Section of the Office of the Attorney General.

  • Networks and shares expertise with the executive branch, particularly through the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison.

  • Leverages state resources with private resources, such as through support of the Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign that amplifies government efforts to ensure Michigan maximizes federal funding revenue derived from census data.

Reach out to your local legislators today!

In collaboration with your outreach, CMF is in contact with the transition team for Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer to learn how we can be helpful, particularly through the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison.

Whitmer’s official website outlines her position on 12 issue areas, ranging from road repairs and healthcare to Michigan's water and urban poverty. 

Her plan for improving education focuses on quality education from “cradle to career” (i.e. phasing in quality, full-day universal preschool), paths to prosperity with a highly educated workforce (i.e. growing support for project-based learning), respect for educators (i.e. more opportunities for teacher collaboration), and stabilizing school funding and improving accountability (i.e. converting to a weighted foundation allowance).

In regard to economy and workforce development, her plan focuses on high-wage skills, closing the economic inequity gap, unleashing Michigan’s economic development potential and helping small businesses compete and repeal of the Retirement Tax. Whitmer has also suggested ensuring every student creates a post-graduation career plan.

Whitmer’s campaign platform included also a plan for immediate action to expand treatment and recovery services for opioid addiction, building on and expanding permanent drug take-back programs, investing in treatment courts and holding physicians and drug companies accountable.

Other statewide officials elected in November’s midterms include Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson, Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel, and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (re-elected). Visit the Secretary of State website for a complete list of election results by district, including state senators and representatives.

Want more?

View and download the sample letter by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

Visit Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer’s official website.

View a list of the newly elected officials by district.

Learn more about the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison.


Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy

We’re getting a sector-wide perspective on the result of nearly $30 billion in disaster-related giving from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) newest report Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2018. The 2018 edition reports on events from 2016.

This fifth annual research report, developed in partnership with Foundation Center, looks at 12 data sources in documenting private, public, corporate and individual disaster-related giving to address major disasters and humanitarian crises.

Natural disasters in 2016 included Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the Caribbean and parts of the U.S.; an earthquake in Ecuador; destructive storms and flooding affecting Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas and Maryland; and deadly wildfires in Tennessee. Civil unrest in Syria and Yemen and the Flint water crisis were considered the most significant man-made disasters of that time. Supplemental data was included on the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida.

Regine Webster, vice president, CDP, highlights that this year’s report includes a first-time analysis of contributions by non-U.S. donors, public charities and smaller U.S. foundations.

“This gives the report a broader picture of disaster philanthropy to better assist funders in data-driven decision-making to support the full arc of disasters. These additional data sources give everyone in philanthropy a greater understanding of the many avenues of funding that are directed to disasters.”

Key findings:

  • Nearly $200 million of the $30 billion in disaster-related giving in 2016 was funding from foundations and public charities, including U.S. and non-U.S. donors.

  • Natural disasters accounted for 44 percent of disaster funding, while man-made accidents received 15 percent.

  • Among disaster assistance strategies, 42 percent of dollars were for response and relief efforts and 17 percent went toward reconstruction and recovery. About five percent of funding was allocated for disaster preparedness.

In a November webinar discussing the report findings, CDP president and CEO Robert G. Ottenhoff commented on the stark contrast between funds given for immediate relief and the funding of preparedness and risk reduction efforts.

“While it’s been heartening to see organizations and individuals enthusiastically respond in the immediate aftermath of [disasters], there’s a real opportunity for philanthropists to be less reactive and more strategic in their disaster-related investments,” he advised.

“The full life cycle of disasters encompasses on the front-end risk reduction, mitigation, preparedness and resilience efforts that could minimize the economic and human losses associated with disasters. On the back end, recovery and reconstruction efforts can help communities rebuild and thrive following the devastation of disasters.”

Ottenhoff referred to the Flint water crisis as an example of a disaster with ongoing recovery efforts.

Activist and “citizen scientist” LeeAnne Walters, a resident of Flint, was a guest speaker on the CDP webinar. She shared the ongoing health challenges her own family is experiencing and explained that it will take approximately 10 years to see the full effect that lead is going to have on Flint’s residents. She also commented on continued mistrust in government, the need for infrastructure improvements and the challenges some residents still face in accessing clean water.

The C.S. Mott Foundation, a CMF member based in Flint, was listed in the CDP report as the second largest institutional donor in 2016, following only behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation was recognized for its efforts with the 2018 Secretary’s Award for Public and Philanthropic Partnerships from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Council on Foundations. The Community Foundation of Greater Flint, also a CMF member, was listed as the top recipient of philanthropic funding in 2016.

Five-Year Trend Study

With five years of data now collected, CDP has completed an analysis of disaster giving by the largest 1,000 foundations in the country. Key findings:

  • Foundations contributed an average $150.4 million per year specifically for disasters. Funding spiked in 2014 due to large grants for the Ebola outbreak, then declined over the next two years.

  • Disaster funding was largely focused on natural disasters, at 59 percent on average. Man-made accidents accounted for no more than 3 percent of dollars in every year except in 2016, when funding jumped to 20 percent due to the Flint water crisis.

  • Response and relief efforts were the most funded assistance strategy across all years, averaging 47 percent of all disaster funding. Recovery efforts increased in 2013 after Superstorm Sandy and in 2016 following the Flint water crisis. Resilience and risk reduction funding increased in 2015 in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.

  • FEMA distributed $3.7 billion for U.S. disasters in 2016, a $1.5 billion increase from the prior year. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $352.9 million in recovery efforts.

  • Based on available data, corporate giving programs committed at least $148.1 million to disasters and humanitarian crises through both cash and in-kind donations.

  • Development Initiatives, publisher of the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report, reported an estimated $4.1 billion in private donations by individuals for international humanitarian crises.

  • Individual donors contributed $8.2 million through donor-advised funds managed by Fidelity Charitable and $661,900 through donor-advised funds managed by Vanguard Charitable.

  • Many individual donors also gave through online platforms. Network for Good helped direct $6.8 million in donations to disaster-specific nonprofits. GlobalGiving raised $3.8 million for disasters, supporting 162 projects by 127 organizations.

The CDP offers an interactive resource for further exploration of the report’s data over the last five years.

Webster notes, “We hope this analysis will aid donors in considering how to maximize the impact of their disaster-related giving.”

CMF has posted a collection of curated resources for foundations engaged in disaster philanthropy. The resources in our Knowledge Center were gathered in response to an Ask CMF submission and are now available to all members. The collection includes a communications planning tool and a guide for setting up a disaster fund.

Want more?

Explore the CDP interactive data.

Check out CMF’s curated disaster philanthropy resources.


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Michigan Municipal League Foundation

The Michigan Municipal League Foundation is gearing up for what they hope will be a highly successful Giving Tuesday event on November 27. Their focus: The 16/50 Project.

A recent post from the project Twitter account @1650Project encourages, “Give $16.50, $165, or $1650 to remove barriers for women to lead our communities so more residents can love where they live.”  

The project name comes from a specific data point: Women represent just 16 percent of Michigan's local chief administrative officers despite making up more than 50 percent of the population.

“Despite filling roles in many areas of appointed and elected government, women lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in executive local management positions,” the League explains.

They have developed a three-part approach to tackle the issue:

  • Education and awareness among local officials.

  • Content, tools and opportunities for women that can help serve their specific needs.

  • Proactive outreach and recruitment to help bring interested candidates to the profession and encourage women just getting started.

The group has been hosting a series of lectures and panels connected to this work, including the Women’s Municipal Leadership Program for aspiring women “to advance their skills and hone their leadership abilities on the path to becoming strong local managers.” 

Recently, Deb Stuart, administrator for Mason City, discussed economic development in a series session. Stuart is one of seven women profiled on the 16/50 project website and a member of the volunteer work group supporting the project initiatives.

The fourth session in the leadership program will be hosted in Lansing later this month. In December, Grand Valley State University will welcome Women Leading Local Government, an interactive panel event aimed at introducing students to municipal management as a career.

Want more?

To get connected to a Project 16/50 Ambassador, complete the online form on the project website.

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