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Thank You for Your Leadership in and for Our Michigan Communities

A Message of Gratitude from CMF President & CEO Kyle Caldwell

Kyle is smiling at the camera wearing a suit and a bow tie.

As we begin 2024, I want to share my appreciation for you as part of our CMF community on behalf of the CMF Board of Trustees and staff. We are grateful for your engagement in this vibrant network of philanthropy and for your leadership working in and with the communities we all serve, especially those experiencing inequities and systemic challenges that prevent all from prospering.

Today is the National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH), a time to contemplate our shared values and bring people together in our common humanity. This annual observance, hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), was created with and builds on the work and learnings of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) community partners. Many CMF members and their nonprofit partners are observing NDORH and the core values this day celebrates.

Tonight, the Battle Creek Coalition for TRHT will host an event in honor of NDORH, inviting the community to ask: What could the future look like without racism? The Community Foundation of Greater Flint is hosting a free, exclusive screening of “Origin,” the 2023 American biographical film written and directed by Ava DuVernay. It is based on the book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, which describes racism in the United States as an aspect of a caste system. One Love Global, one of the TRHT Michigan site hosts, is holding a conversation on our health as a society, now seven years since the first National Day of Racial Healing.

#HowWeHeal is an invitation to connect to the work of building stronger relationships, creating more humane policies and a collective commitment to truth-telling and accountability.

Fundamental to this day is a clear understanding that racial healing is at the core of racial equity. To heal together and to create lasting and systemic change together, we must be united, particularly now when the harms of hate, oppression and polarization can feel so present and so persistent. This is the time for philanthropy to lean into the pivotal role of convener, to help our communities embrace differences and bridge divides across socioeconomics, race, gender, faith and other identities. This work is ongoing, beyond today and across our state.

One example is the work of Saginaw Community Foundation and the local Community Engagement and Inclusion Council (CEIC), created by community leaders from education, business, healthcare, and nonprofits to create a brighter, more inclusive, and equitable future for all in Saginaw County.

Community leaders designed a strategic plan that provides a roadmap centering equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and justice as the cornerstones of a community action plan. The next phase of Saginaw County’s journey is underway, with extensive community dialogues and learning opportunities planned in the coming months.

TRHT efforts and the CEIC are among many examples where CMF members and their partners are exploring and advancing equity and racial equity as an imperative to Michigan’s future prosperity. We at CMF look forward to continuing to serve as your champion in this work. Whether your organization is newly exploring how to grow your capacity in this space or deepening the work you’ve been advancing for decades, we have supports available, ranging from our Equity Signature Series and other virtual and in-person learning opportunities to our growing library of curated equity resources.

In 2024, we will continue to share stories from our CMF community demonstrating how organizations in rural, urban and suburban geographies of all sizes and types are leaning into their roles as bridge builders, navigating difficult but courageous conversations around equity, racial equity imperatively, and helping to find common ground that can advance equitable systemic change. We invite you to share the work you are exploring or engaging in with us through our CMF Community Stories, blogs and more.

We will also provide the programs and services you have come to value from CMF, including our extensive learning and networking programming, robust public policy and advocacy efforts, strategic partnerships, access to timely data and research, and connections to leading-edge practices and opportunities for collaboration.

Thank you for your leadership and for allowing CMF to be your partner and champion. Through your work, and we hope with CMF’s support, you show how we can all genuinely and meaningfully live into the literal definition of philanthropy— "acts of love for humankind.” 

Kyle Caldwell

President & CEO