September 9, 2019

Monday, September 9, 2019

Launch Michigan Shares Educator Insights from Your Community

We’re getting an inside look at what educators in Michigan communities are saying when it comes to several key areas in education.

The sentiments of 17,000 teachers, support staff and administrators were collected during a statewide survey fielded by Launch Michigan earlier this year. Launch Michigan is the statewide coalition of diverse organizations, including CMF, who are working together in support of improving student outcomes.

CMF reported on the statewide survey results back in March. Further analysis has been done to examine the data within nine regions.

“Breaking down the data by each region allows for better identification of how educator and student needs differ throughout the state,” Launch Michigan shared in a press release.

The regional results provide feedback from educators in three areas: teaching landscape and satisfaction; professional development and evaluation; and literacy resources.

Regional data:

  • 21 percent of teachers in the Thumb region would recommend careers in education for young people.

  • 19 percent of K-5 teachers in southwest Michigan believe that they have been adequately prepared to provide substantial support to students leading up to the implementation of the state’s new third grade reading law, Read by Grade 3.

  • 35 percent of mid-Michigan teachers feel that systems in their schools lead to better student learning.

  • 38 percent of teachers in the Flint area receive specific professional learning suggestions that are tailored to their needs.

  • 29 percent of teachers in the Upper Peninsula have access to literacy coaches in their schools.

  • 39 percent of teachers in the northern Lower Peninsula do not have enough books and reading materials in their classrooms.

  • About half of south central Michigan teachers believe their local schools are doing a good job.

  • About half of metro Detroit teachers feel empowered to teach in ways that are best for students.

“This is a very rich set of data that provides Launch Michigan with a good read into the perceptions of front-line educators across the state,” Emma White, the researcher leading the survey analysis said. “The results show the passion that educators have for their students and their careers, as well as the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for education policy in this state.”

The complete survey results are available via Launch Michigan.

Following the release of the regional results, Launch Michigan has announced two key priorities.

In an op-ed in The Detroit Free Press, Launch Michigan steering committee members identified school funding and literacy support as priorities to best prepare students for future careers.

“Focusing on helping all students read and ensuring more funding flows to the students who need the most help are smart and straightforward choices that our leaders in Lansing need to adopt for the coming year,” Rob Fowler, CEO, Small Business Association of Michigan and Chris Wignet, executive director, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators wrote in the op-ed.

As Launch Michigan continues to dive into key priorities, with the start of the new school year the Michigan Department of Education just released new data reporting modest gains in third and fourth grade English language arts (ELA) scores for the second straight year.

Sixth graders also showed improvement in ELA and third, fifth and sixth graders made gains in math on the 2019 M-STEP.

While these improvements indicate the potential for continued growth, MDE says this is only one milestone in a much-larger undertaking.

“Focus and attention on early childhood education and early literacy are beginning to bear fruit, and continued efforts in these areas will keep Michigan moving forward,” Michael Rice, state superintendent said.

Launch Michigan announced earlier this summer that it is accelerating the development of targeted and actionable recommendations to meet the request of legislative leadership. Their report is expected to be given to Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature by December 1.

Want more?

Connect with Launch Michigan and learn more about the regional educator survey results.






Foundations Collaborate to Address Underfunding of Grantees

A major collaborative effort by five foundations, including the Ford Foundation, a CMF member, is aimed at leveraging new practices to “end the nonprofit starvation cycle.”

The announcement came last week as The Bridgespan Group released a new report to share the findings of collaborative work involving the Ford, Hewlett, MacArthur, Open Society and Packard Foundations.

Bridgespan shared in a press release that “Nearly all government funding globally, as well as over three-quarters of U.S. foundation giving, is allocated through project grants. Under current sector norms, many of these grants underfund nonprofits by imposing a limit of 15 percent or less on coverage of indirect costs.”

The two-year collaborative project has resulted in an agreement among the participating foundations to try new practices that address the chronic underfunding of their grantees and call on other funders to join them in alleviating this sector-wide issue.

“As funders, we have a responsibility to ensure that civil society thrives,” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation tweeted. “Proud to work with other foundation leaders to end the chronic underfunding of organizations and grantees.”

Key findings from the report:

  • There’s inconsistency in language for indirect-cost policies across the sector.

  • The most common indirect-cost-reimbursement policies for project-restricted grants are flat rate policies with indirect-cost rates of 15 percent or less. However, Bridgespan’s research shows indirect-cost rates almost always exceeded 20 percent, meaning they only cover a portion of the grantees’ actual indirect costs.

  • Insufficient cost recovery leads to financial weakness. Bridgespan shared the results of earlier research which showed that more than half of the 274 grantees they studied suffered from frequent or chronic budget deficits and 40 percent had fewer than three months of reserves in the bank.

The report shares that “while project grants are an essential tool in philanthropy, they routinely discount the core administrative and operational costs of delivering programs and services.”

After establishing a shared understanding of how project grants are resulting in insufficient funding for nonprofits’ indirect costs, the five foundations sought to articulate guiding principles to change their grantmaking policies and practices. These include:

  • Do what is right and do no harm.

  • Pay a fair share of indirect costs.

  • Act with consistency and fairness.

  • Stimulate honest and constructive conversations between funders and grantees.

  • Promote efficient and effective allocation of resources.

These guiding principles then led to the development of a menu of grantmaking approaches (shared by Bridgespan) that offer coverage for both direct and indirect expenses.

“The difficult work of implementing the (foundations’) presidents’ proposed solutions to chronic nonprofit underfunding is just beginning. Thoughtful, long-term collaboration across the social sector will be crucial to sustaining momentum and ultimately putting an end to the ‘starvation cycle,’” the report states.

Want more?

Read the full report.






Action Underway to Address PFAS Contamination

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) is seeking community members to join its new Citizen Advisory Workgroup (CAW) to advise the state in its ongoing response to PFAS contamination.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals, commonly found in fabric treatments, soaps, firefighting foam and other products, that break down very slowly in the environment, are highly soluble and easily transfer through soil to groundwater.

MPART recently released its final report from last year’s statewide water supply study, which was the first of its kind in the nation.

The study examined samples from 1,723 public water systems such as community water supplies, schools and childcare providers that use their own wells and tribal water systems.

The state said in 90 percent of the systems no PFAS was detected. There were “very low levels” in nearly 7 percent of the systems that were tested, however, and higher levels in 3 percent of the systems.

Only the city of Parchment and an elementary school near Grand Haven had test results exceeding federal levels for PFAS contamination.

“This first-in-the-nation study of all public water systems in the state resulted in 3,500 people in Parchment and Robinson Township being protected from high levels of previously unknown PFAS contamination in their drinking water last year,” Steve Sliver, executive director, MPART said. “We believe the data we’ve collected will be useful as EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes & Energy department) moves forward with the development of drinking water standards.”

The state says that MPART continues to fund quarterly monitoring for community water supplies, schools and childcare providers with PFAS levels, as well as monthly monitoring of community water supplies using surface water sources.

The state has compiled resources and information about the PFAS contamination sites in Michigan and what state agencies are doing to address it.

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, a Belmont resident, lives in one of the areas that has been under scrutiny for PFAS contamination from waste linked to Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.

Wynn-Stelt, an upcoming speaker at CMF’s Annual Conference, recently shared her story with CNN, explaining that blood tests have shown high levels of PFAS in her body after her well was contaminated.

Earlier this summer, Wynn-Stelt testified before a congressional subcommittee in D.C. about the effect of PFAS contamination on her family’s health.

The Green and Blue Network will continue the conversation with Wynn-Stelt and others at Annual Conference in the session Leveraging Partnerships to Address PFAS in Our Water, taking a closer look at the impact PFAS has on public health and the role that government and philanthropy can play in addressing these issues.

Want more?

The Green and Blue Network wants to hear from you! Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey to help GBN understand how it can be most helpful to the CMF community.

Read MPART’s report.







The Skillman Foundation and JPMorgan Chase support program offering free financial counseling to low-income Detroit residents

Content excerpted and adapted from an article in The Detroit News. Read the full article.

A partnership between CMF members The Skillman Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, along with city and county officials, has led to the opening of Financial Empowerment Centers in Detroit.

The centers will provide free one-on-one financial counseling to low-income Detroit residents and help low- to moderate-income residents manage finances, pay down debt, increase savings and establish credit.

"This is a message to low- and moderate-income residents: There [are] more opportunities here in Detroit," Mayor Mike Duggan, city of Detroit said. "We want to make sure you make more money, and we want to make sure you keep your money." 

Detroit's empowerment centers are supported by the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, JPMorgan Chase and The Skillman Foundation as well as the city of Detroit and Wayne County Treasurer's Office.

JPMorgan Chase's $50 million contribution to the empowerment centers is part of its $200 million commitment to connect more Detroiters with economic opportunity.

Two of the centers are now open in the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office with four more locations slated to open later this year.

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