September 18, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Combating Bullying in Michigan Schools

Bullying and cyberbullying are the top concern when it comes to children's health cited by parents in a new national survey by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the University of Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) has been working diligently to raise awareness of the harmful effects of bullying and how students and schools can be proactive and how they should respond.

The MDCR’s Relentless Tour with Anthony Lanni has already made stops at three Michigan schools so far this school year with more to come.  The tour is “a first of its kind grass roots initiative designed to help eradicate bullying across the state of Michigan.”

lanni, who has autism, faced relentless bullying growing up, in addition to that his family was told by doctors he would never graduate, play sports or live independently. Ianni overcame those perceived obstacles, earning a degree from Michigan State University and becoming the first known individual with autism to play college basketball.

He now shares his story of adversity, perseverance and kindness with Michigan students, to address bullying in our schools and inspire change.

Fast facts about bullying via The Relentless Tour:

  • Every 7 minutes a child is a victim of bullying and 85 percent of the time there’s no intervention.

  • Bullying is a leading factor in suicide among kids 11 to 16.

  • About 86 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 15 say bullying has interfered with their studies.

  • Each day 160,000 students miss school due to bullying.

There’s currently a bill under consideration in the Michigan Senate calling for revisions to the definition of school bullying and mandating that schools adopt response policies. Data shows that in schools where there are programs in place for intervention bullying has been reduced by as much as 50 percent.

The 2016 Michigan Youth Advisory Council (YAC) Databook shows  bullying is one of the top five issues our YACs are focused on as they consider and work on grantmaking and programs.

“Our YAC feels strongly that peer-to-peer connections are a valuable tool in combating bullying and mental health issues within our youth and school districts,” Lauren Grevel, YAC advisor, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF) said. “We’ve had an unfortunate number of suicides in our community in recent years and our YAC has identified these areas as priorities for outreach, grant funding, and developing tools and techniques to address these areas.”

As a result, GHACF’s YAC supports various anti-bullying campaigns and programs in local schools, they’re working on targeted outreach and service projects to address bullying and mental health, as well as implementation of ‘random acts of kindness’ and ‘pay it forward’ initiatives in the local high schools.

Here are a few highlights of anti-bullying interventions, supported by funders and nonprofits that are underway throughout the state:

  • Earlier this year, the Jackson Community Foundation and Bill and Vi Sigmund Foundation supported a new donation-based health clinic, in addition to wellness checks and physical health treatment it will also provide sessions on bullying, among other teen-related issues.

  • Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation supports a Safe Schools anti-bullying program that provides workshops around prevention and intervention skills for educators and school staff.

  • The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan’s Be Nice Campaign is a positive anti-bullying initiative designed to raise awareness and provide resources to schools. Earlier this year a memorial fund was established through the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to support the program in Kent County schools. Similar funds to support Be Nice have been created at community foundations in Muskegon, Oceana County and Holland.

  • Playworks, a nonprofit which will lead activities at Our Common Future conference next month, is involved in nearly 30 Michigan schools providing coaches and training to schools to facilitate play at recess and to make sure kids all feel welcome and involved. In the schools where it’s been implemented 85 percent of school staff have reported fewer incidents of bullying in school. At Our Common Future conference, attendees will experience first-hand how the organization embeds anti-bullying approaches in structured play.

Earlier this year at CMF’s YAC Advisor Spring Training we had a presentation on Michigan’s OK2SAY app, created by the Office of the Michigan Attorney General, which provides a platform for students to report incidents of bullying, as YACs have expressed interest in continuing to engage in this issue. 

As for Ianni, the Relentless Tour does take requests from schools, community organizations, colleges and others to present at events statewide.

Want more?

Check out MDCR’s The Relentless Tour.

Learn more about the Be Nice Campaign in West Michigan.

View the resources for Michigan's OK2SAY app.






What’s Happening with the Overtime Pay Rule?

While a federal judge ruled the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay rule was invalid at the end of August, the issue is not over, it could be facing a redesign.

Despite the judge’s ruling, experts say the Department of Labor (DOL) is working on further examination and design of the rule, which is why it’s important for the nonprofit sector to weigh in on the overtime pay rule by submitting feedback before the end of the day, September 25.

The DOL says that the department’s request for information about the overtime rule is in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order earlier this year which instructed federal agencies to examine and address existing regulations that are ineffective, inhibit job creation, eliminate jobs, etc. The department is revisiting the issue and wants feedback from employers that will help update overtime pay regulations and shape future rulemaking.

What you need to know about the overtime pay rule right now:

  • The 2016 overtime pay rule was designed to raise the threshold for those eligible to receive overtime pay from a salary range of $23,660/year to $47,476/year. This would have made 4 million Americans eligible for overtime pay. However, this rule was temporarily halted in federal court in late 2016 and a federal judge made a final ruling on it last month, saying it’s invalid.

  • The DOL says its “aware of stakeholder concerns that the standard salary level ($47,476) set in 2016 was too high,” noting that, “Concerns expressed by various stakeholders after publication of the 2016 Final Rule that the salary level would adversely impact low-wage regions and industries have further shown that additional rulemaking is appropriate.”

  • The National Council of Nonprofits shared that you can weigh in on 11 questions as the DOL wants to hear from the public whether the current rules in place keeping individuals (those in executive, administrative or professional capacity) exempt from receiving overtime pay should be changed and/or further revised in the future.

  • For employers, “nothing has changed,” says The Management Association (MRA), which provides human resources to nonprofits. MRA shares that with the DOL continuing to look at this issue, “Employers should continue to update their job descriptions and ensure that their jobs meet one or more of the FLSA’s ‘white collar’ duties tests (executive, administrative, professional, computer and outside sales).”

Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and National Council of Nonprofits is encouraging the nonprofit sector to weigh in and ensure the DOL is getting information and data from various sectors to help inform and guide future rulemaking on this issue.

Again, you can provide feedback to the DOL until September 25.

Want more?

View the DOL’s request for information.

Read Nonprofits Have a Big Stake in Overtime-Rules Debate.

Check out the National Council of Nonprofits brief on the DOL’s request for information.







Project Play 2020

The Aspen Institute recently announced the launch of Project Play 2020, at a two-day Project Play Summit in Washington, D.C. The new initiative will build upon what we’ve learned from the State of Play report by The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program and take those strategies nationwide to increase sports participation among all children.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF) is one of the founding members of Project Play 2020. RCWJF has supported ongoing research in State of Play, as it highlights barriers facing young children in playing sports in three regional areas, including Southeast Michigan and strategies to lead to change. Now these efforts will be leveraged nationwide.

“The new initiative represents the first time that industry groups and nonprofits have come together to develop shared goals around playing sports accessible to all children, regardless of zip code or ability,” The Aspen Institute shared.

What the data tells us:

  • As research from The Aspen Institute shows, the number of children ages 6 to 12 who regularly play team sports has been on the decline since 2008, dropping from nearly 45 percent to now less than 37 percent.

  • Children in low-income families are more likely to be less physically active than those with larger household incomes.

  • As CMF has reported, while sports and active play can build confidence, the State of Play report shows that they can also save medical costs. If 50 percent of youth met the active and healthy levels of activity, it’s estimated $20 billion would be saved in direct medical costs.

  • Less than one-third of youth coaches are trained in competencies such as safety and sport instruction.

In June, RCWJF and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan shared the 2017 State of Play report which focused on youth sports participation, access and barriers in Southeast Michigan.

As this work moves into a national conversation, how can funders help address these barriers and link children to active, healthy opportunities in communities throughout Michigan and beyond?

The 2017 State of Play Report focusing on Southeast Michigan shared five recommendations for stakeholders to help increase access to youth sports:

  • Connect stakeholder silos: This would entail creating a cross-sector coalition to share best practices, set community standards and develop a common voice around youth sports in communities.

  • Bring play spaces closer to where children live: This strategy addresses transportation challenges children may face by creating small “pocket parks” in underserved neighborhoods and improve existing parks for youth sports and play.

  • Connect parents with programs: Providing a website or one stop portal for parents to visit to view opportunities and information about how their kids can get involved would streamline the experience.

  • Grow the availability of trained coaches and officials: Recruit college athletes from local colleges to commit their time and knowledge to youth coaching.

  • Embrace skateboarding and other action sports: Skate parks are often lower cost to build and maintain than other facilities and there’s an interest in this sport and an opportunity for social interaction for kids.

Project Play 2020 will build upon the lessons from this research, initially focusing on encouraging sports sampling and training coaches, two of the State of Play’s eight strategies.

Want more?

Check out what’s ahead for Project Play 2020.

Read the full 2017 State of Play report.








Community Foundation of St. Clair County makes largest mission-related investment to-date

Content excerpted from The Times Herald. Read the full article here.

The St. Clair County Community College has finalized its purchase of a downtown Port Huron hotel to transform the building into a student housing complex for 80 students.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County invested $750,000 into the student housing project as a mission-related investment (MRI). It marks the foundation’s largest MRI to-date.

“Our foundation had been very patient waiting for the right opportunity to make a significant MRI,” Randy Maiers, president, Community Foundation for St. Clair County said. “For years now, we have advocated for the growth of our unique downtowns as well as our local community college. When the opportunity arose to support a major downtown investment by St. Clair County Community College, one that would draw young people to downtown Port Huron and help the college expand, our foundation board was quite enthusiastic to provide the largest MRI we’ve ever made.”

"This loan helps further diversify the foundation's portfolio while also helping the college and the larger community," Mike Cansfield, board chairman, Community Foundation of St. Clair County said. "The college's new field house is first class all the way. There is no doubt this project will be of equal quality, literally helping transform that part of downtown."

The project is expected to be completed next summer.

News type: