November 9, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

TRHT Kalamazoo Encourages Expansion of Anti-Racism Training for MI Law Enforcement

After receiving positive feedback from a local police academy, the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Kalamazoo team is pushing for expanded anti-racism training across Michigan’s police academy programs.

TRHT Kalamazoo, housed at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF), partnered with Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s (KVCC) Police Academy to provide a series of four day-long trainings for recruits that focused on the history of racism in American law enforcement, creating positive relationships with residents and counteracting implicit biases that impact police officer judgment and actions when working with communities of color.

“We continue to get positive feedback from this initiative every time it is held," Sholanna Lewis, director of TRHT Kalamazoo said in a press release. "One thing we hear a lot from both cadets and community members is that they would like to see this type of program be incorporated into statewide requirements."

In June, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a series of police reform policies to address racial disparities in law enforcement’s work when applied in communities of color. The proposed reforms included requiring all current officers and cadets to participate in anti-racism and anti-discrimination training.

“People across Michigan have been calling for changes to police practices, and these actions are clear steps in the direction of needed reform,” Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist said. “These reforms will help us build a more just and equitable law enforcement system and ensure the safety of Black Michiganders across the state.”

Current state guidance requires 25 hours of diversity training; KVCC requires police academy cadets to complete 50 hours of training in implicit bias, de-escalation tactics and cultural diversity, among other topics.

The training was developed by retired public safety Captain Stacey Randolph-Ledbetter, who leads TRHT Kalamazoo’s Law Design team.

"A goal from the beginning was to institutionalize this experience and make it a key component of a cadet's education before becoming a law enforcement officer," Randolph-Ledbetter said. "The partnership between TRHT Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and KVCC, along with the support of community members, sponsors and supporters, has allowed us to continue the program with each group of new cadets."

With 96% of cadets reporting that the training has helped them recognize and confront their own implicit biases and understand the impact of biases and stereotypes on people’s lives, and motivated them to learn more about diversity, TRHT Kalamazoo hopes to take this programming across the state. The goal is to not only deepen understanding and knowledge for police officers but also create better connections between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“Nowadays, communication is more important than it was 10-20 years ago,” Officer Daniel Boehme of the Richland Police Department and member of KVCC’s 89th Cadet Class said in a video. “Learning to talk and communicate with people—whether it be of different races, different sexualities, different genders, and even different political views—it’s really going to help us out and eliminate some of the stress factors we have.”

Want more?

Read TRHT Kalamazoo’s press release.

Watch TRHT Kalamazoo’s video highlighting its anti-racism training.




New Report Highlights How Sustainable Development Goals Can Advance Equity and Recovery During COVID-19

A new report from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation highlights how community foundations can use the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and advance racial equity in the communities they serve.

In 2015, 193 members of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a commitment to and blueprint for a sustainable future. The SDGs were created as a framework for sustainable community development to address inequities. SDGs specifically address issues such as poverty, hunger, environmental preservation, justice and inclusion, among others.

The Mott Foundation’s report: “How the Sustainable Development Goals Can Help Community Foundations Respond to COVID-19 and Advance Racial Equity” connects community foundations’ work with the SDG framework and shows how community foundations can work to advance the 190 SDG indicators that are relevant in the U.S.

When using the SDG framework to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the report highlights key questions that leaders of community foundations can explore to connect their work to the SDGs, including:

  • What role can community foundations play in leading productive conversations about the consequences of inadequate health care coverage in the U.S.?

  • How can community foundations address gaps in local health emergency preparedness?

  • How can community foundations strengthen the social safety net, particularly nonprofit organizations working with the most vulnerable populations?

  • How can the nonprofit sector be reimagined to protect against personal, social and economic destruction caused by local and national disasters?

The report notes how philanthropic response to COVID-19 was complicated due to the rise in calls for racial equity and justice after the murder of George Floyd. While crafted in 2015, the SDGs have an implicit theme of racial equity that community foundations can use to guide their strategies to create more just communities.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development notes that SDG indicators “should be disaggregated, where relevant, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or other characteristics, in accordance with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics.” This is to ensure that SDGs are met in ways that promote equity and justice throughout communities. The report suggests that community foundations identify indicators that can be broken down by specific subgroups beyond race and ethnicity to ensure that community development and sustainability is pursued with equity at the forefront.

The Mott Foundation partnered with Community Foundations of Canada to create a guidebook and toolkit for community foundation staff, leaders and board members to align their work to the SDGs. The toolkit provides options for community foundations to use apply the SDG framework within their own communities to ensure sustainability and equity for future generations.

Mott Foundation’s president and CEO, Ridgway White, a CMF trustee, is also a co-chair of the Michigan Philanthropy COVID-19 Working Group, an ad hoc committee of CMF, composed of 25 foundation leaders and partners collaborating to help connect, strengthen and mobilize the Michigan community of philanthropy in advancing collective responses to the short- and long-term challenges of the pandemic. Central in their planning and efforts has been a recognition of the inequities that have been exacerbated during this crisis among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).

Want more?

Read the Mott Foundation’s report.

View the SDG Community Foundation Guidebook and Toolkit.

The Sustainable Development Goals: A Framework for Equity was a session featured at CMF’s 48th Annual Conference. Conference registrants can access the session recording in the conference platform’s Resource Center.

Learn more about the Michigan Philanthropy COVID-19 Working Group.




Research on Local Investing Ecosystem Sheds Light on Opportunities to Address Inequities

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is sharing a new report that has helped to inform their work when it comes to how community and capital intersect in Washtenaw County.

AAACF commissioned the Washtenaw County Capital Research Report, the first report of its kind to deepen understanding of the investing ecosystem in Washtenaw County. According to the report, investment capital is mostly available to large businesses, but 70% of Washtenaw businesses have fewer than 10 employees. Furthermore, lending on a per household basis favors more affluent neighborhoods and white neighborhoods.

“Our guiding principles have been to make data-driven decisions, to collaborate across sectors and across neighborhoods, to prioritize community-led programs and to address emergency needs while also preparing to address recovery and the long-term impacts of this pandemic,” Neel Hajra, CEO, AAACF said in a video highlighting the foundation’s work in COVID-19 recovery.

The report highlights ways in which marginalized and low-income communities are often denied access to capital investments. A lack of equitable educational opportunities, underdeveloped business networks, and little history of economic development all contribute to businesses being unable to secure loans and investment funds.

But AAACF understands that providing opportunities for business development in under-resourced communities is vital not only to business owners but to the community as a whole.

“Possibility and opportunity—it drives me, and now as a proud member of the AAACF team, I bring into my work the mindset that community philanthropy should be supportive of the opportunity and possibility that the community seeks for itself,” Jillian Rosen, vice president for community investment at AAACF, wrote in a blog post.

Seeking to fill gaps identified in the area, AAACF most recently announced a $250,000 impact investment in Michigan Women Forward’s (MWF) Community Impact Note fund, which provides microloans to women-led businesses across Michigan.

The $10 million Community Impact Note (CIN) program provides loans of up to $50,000 to small businesses owned by women to promote growth and sustainability. AAACF’s contribution will target growing businesses in Washtenaw County that struggle to obtain lending capital.

“I applaud AAACF for their leadership,” Carolyn Cassin, MWF president and CEO, and CMF member said in a press release. “They serve as pioneers for Michigan community foundations and through this investment, they demonstrate how important it is to provide leadership through impact investing.”

With these funds, MWF will be able to provide loans to 10 to 15 small businesses across Washtenaw County. Such funding is crucial because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on small business sustainability.

“With COVID-19, we know women and minority-owned businesses have been hit the hardest,” Rosen said. “This partnership will help these businesses recover and rebuild and catalyze the launch of new businesses in Washtenaw County.”

Rosen also notes that the microloan program will prioritize low to moderate-income women business owners and businesses owned by women of color. The program will also provide technical assistance through MWF to support business growth and sustainability.

“We’re proud to be the very first community foundation to make an investment in Michigan Women Forward,” Hajra said.

Both AAACF and MWF staff say they recognize the importance of investing in small, women- and minority-owned businesses to generate more economic opportunities in the area.

“AAACF’s capital, MWF’s microloan program and our community’s local businesses are a start to redefining the set of circumstances for economic opportunity in Washtenaw County,” wrote Rosen.

Want more?

Read AAACF’s press release on its MWF investment.

Read AAACF's Washtenaw County Capital Research Report.

Read Jillian Rosen’s blog post on AAACF’s investment in MWF.

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