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Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT): Adapting in Year Four

We’re getting an inside look at how the TRHT sites adapted to the past year through the pandemic and national reckoning for racial justice. 

As the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) moves into its fifth year of implementation we’re getting an inside look at how the sites adapted to the past year through the pandemic and national reckoning for racial justice. 

CMF is the statewide convener supporting the four sites and the initiative is led by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  

During the pandemic each site found various ways to continue their work and even enhance it in online or social distanced formats. 

Activities of the past year include:

•    Virtual racial healing circles and online dissemination of National Day of Racial Healing activities.

•    Information sharing across TRHT sites in Michigan and nationally. 

•    Added or reframed activities in response to national and local demonstrations against police violence.

•    Sustainability planning as the sites enter their fifth grant year.

The report highlights the ways each site adapted in the pandemic including increased virtual activities and intentional support for community members who lacked internet access.

Racial healing work occurred online, enabling people who might not typically participate to join the circles. 

Several projects and initiatives came out of the sites’ pandemic work. 

The pandemic and 2020 uprisings led to new opportunities and partnerships. 

The Flint site, hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, developed an effective response to the pandemic through the formation of the COVID-19 Taskforce on Racial Inequities, designed to raise awareness of disparate COVID-19 outcomes in the Flint community. 

The taskforce engaged community stakeholders across sectors to identify ways to provide equitable access to community services and resources.

The taskforce was formed as a partnership of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the Michigan State University Division of Public Health, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, City of Flint, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Community Health Network and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

The following were outcomes of the taskforce’s work: 

•    Established three COVID-19 vaccination sites that administered nearly 20,000 vaccines.

•    Supported the initiation and passage of resolutions designating racism as a public health crisis by the city of Flint and Genesee County municipal governments, including the county health department.

•    Operationalized the health crisis declaration by gathering resources to hire consultants who engaged the community through dialogues, focus groups, and a community advisory committee to determine approaches to address the crisis.

•    Worked with Mass Transportation Authority Flint to coordinate transportation to testing and vaccination sites for residents without “easy” transportation access.

•    Hosted a virtual roundtable with Black and Latinx small business owners and financial institution leaders to discuss barriers to capital access for minority businesses.

The Kalamazoo site, which is hosted by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, adapted their online formats in response to the pandemic. Their virtual racial healing work has served as a model for other TRHT sites. 

The site has also started offering special racial healing sessions for affinity groups as the sessions provide a trusting and safe environment. 

According to the report, the Kalamazoo site also has worked to influence local narratives and policy initiatives around issues relating to race.

Kalamazoo’s Housing Equity Ordinance addresses the systemic obstacles to housing that the city’s most vulnerable residents face. The ordinance aims to reduce housing disparities in the cCity of Kalamazoo by protecting against housing discrimination.

The ordinance prohibits housing rejections for any demographic group and instituted new protections for people with housing vouchers and county identification cards, as well as those exiting incarceration. It also regulates rental housing application fees. 

Through this work several new partnerships were created and sites were able to connect with harder to reach groups. 

In Battle Creek, after a TRHT-cosponsored vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other individuals who lost their lives  through interactions with police and police violence, community members created a garden for residents to safely enjoy in person in the pandemic. 

The Urban Memorial & Racial Healing Garden is a place for residents to gather to plant flowers and connect with one another. The garden was established through a partnership with TRHT, the Southwestern Michigan Urban League, the Sojourner Truth Center for Liberation and Justice and the city of Battle Creek, with funding support from the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

According to the report, during summer and fall 2020, over 100 individuals and families came together in the garden to participate in planting events and activities. 

TRHT sites prioritized building relationships with their community organizations over the last year. As one example, the Lansing site continued to nurture partnerships and relationship-build with area First Nations, youth and faith communities. 

The site also convened a roundtable for Black business owners in partnership with Lansing Economic Area Partnership. 

The site is further developing an ambassadorship program to educate community organizations about TRHT and how they can get involved. 

The Lansing People’s Assembly was created through partnerships and designed to provide community members with a clear mechanism for shaping government, identifying community needs and translating the needs into policy and action. 

The assembly was convened by One Love Global, Liberation PAC, Black Lives Matter Lansing, The Village Lansing and Black Lives Matter Michigan Allyship. 

The Assembly resulted in more than 80 ideas for community change. 

As TRHT enters its fifth grant year, each site has several plans for their future work, including the following highlights:

•    Battle Creek: Continue visioning/strategic planning, onboard fundraising and marketing positions.

•    Flint: Implement Courageous Conversations, continue leading COVID-19 Taskforce on Racial Inequities, issue subgrants and continue Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

•    Kalamazoo: Add an additional full-time staff position, launch a campaign to raise awareness of racial equity issues and resources countywide, continue to study whether TRHT work should continue to be housed at the community foundation or become its own entity.

•    Lansing: Launch accountability scorecard, continue developing Beloved Community Fund and youth programming, continue network-building efforts.

Want more? 

Learn more about TRHT. 

Battle Creek.