Weekly Download: March 30, 2020

Monday, March 30, 2020
We're sharing the latest updates, best practices and learning opportunities emerging from Michigan philanthropy.


Remembering Marlowe Stoudamire

Marlowe Stoudamire, a 43-year-old speaker, business strategist and entrepreneur, is among the growing number of Michiganders who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.

Stoudamire is remembered as a beloved Detroit advocate who possessed a true passion for community.

Stoudamire served as chief of staff at The Skillman Foundation and as project director of international business strategy at Henry Ford Health System. He led the Detroit Historical Society’s award-winning and groundbreaking Detroit 67: Looking Back to MOVE FORWARD project, receiving the 2018 IMLS National Medal – the nation's highest award bestowed to museums and libraries.

Marlowe was helping a number of foundations in the region think differently about economic development from a Detroit neighborhood and nonprofit perspective. He was a thought leader and well-known by many of our CMF members in the metro Detroit region. 

“He had a unique ability to bring people together, curating talent and energy to help us all envision a different future together,” Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation shared on Facebook.

The Detroit News shared “Friends and coworkers knew him as a transformational leader, a family man and someone who ‘embodied Detroit through and through.’"

“Marlowe Stoudamire was my friend,” Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist shared on Twitter. “A man whose passion for people was only exceeded by his passion for purpose-driven community building. Our world will not be the same without his presence.”

Over the years Marlowe was also connected to CMF’s Michigan Forum for African Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP) Affinity Group, participating in events and serving as a speaker.

As of Sunday evening, March 29, more than 130 people in Michigan have died as a result of COVID-19.






Census 2020: COVID-19 Presents New Challenges

Field operations for Census 2020 are now paused for an additional two weeks, until April 15. The U.S. Census Bureau announced over the weekend that it is continuing the temporary suspension of all field operations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Field operations were expected to resume this Wednesday, April 1, which is also Census Day. However, the Bureau shared on Saturday that based on continuing assessments of guidance from federal, state and local health authorities it was pausing field operations until mid-April. 

There have been other shifts in April for census data collection already due to the unique challenges surfacing with COVID-19.

In April census takers were expected to visit college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers and others who live among large groups of people. However, with college campuses closed in states around the country, those visits won’t happen. The Bureau says students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus will still be counted as part of this process. As for students who live off campus and are now at home, the Bureau said they should be counted at their school address, not their parents’ home.

“Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria which states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. We are asking schools to contact their students and remind them to respond,” the Bureau shared.

The census form did go live as planned, with the Bureau sending mailers to households beginning in March and launching the online form.

According to the latest data from the Bureau, as of Sunday, March 29, Michigan’s self-response rate to the census is 38.5%, higher than the national response rate of 33.1%. Of Michigan’s current response rate, nearly 33% of households have responded online.

The option of filling out the form online has become an important shift during this public health crisis.

“As things are progressing rapidly with the COVID-19 health crisis, community leaders are swiftly building capacities and shifting strategies to bolster and lead online count efforts,” The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) wrote in a recent census update.

Anyone can respond to the census either online, by phone or by returning the paper questionnaire.

“Though the coronavirus has swiftly upended daily life for millions, completing the census is one of the most positive things people can do right now for their communities,” The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation shared in an article last week. “Together, we can ensure we have resources to address future emergencies and help our communities thrive.”

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) which is leading the Nonprofits Complete Count Committee (NPCCC) shared on social media last week that the current crisis further demonstrates how critical it is to secure a complete count in the census.

“It's important to remember that the census data helps us to be prepared for the unexpected, especially during national emergencies such as the coronavirus, so that Michigan families and neighbors have access to the resources they need the most like Medicaid, MIChild and Medicare,” MNA said.

The Bureau says it will continue to evaluate all Census 2020 operations. In May, census takers around the U.S. are expected to visit households that have not yet responded to the census. The Bureau says they will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and “adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.”

The deadline to respond to the census has been extended from July 31 to August 14.

Want more?

CMF encourages you to promote census participation on your own social media channels. The Bureau provides social media graphics and language you can download and use to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to respond to the census.

Connect with the latest from the NPCCC. You can see what’s emerging from regional census hubs and receive blogs.  

Stay connected with updates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Go online now to fill out your census form today!

You also have the option of completing the questionnaire by phone. To begin, call 844-330-2020. Phone lines are open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. 







The Strain on Small Businesses: How MI Philanthropy is Responding

On March 23, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued her Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives executive order, requiring all businesses and organizations deemed non-essential to sustain or support life to close. As small businesses across the state close or cut back on services, CMF members are working to support businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF) announced a $1 million pledge to two funds, the COVID-19 Response Fund and the COVID-19 Impact Investing Fund to provide relief to nonprofits, individuals and small businesses. While the response fund is designated to support nonprofits and individuals, the Impact Investing Fund provides a total $250,000 in 0% business loans for small businesses, with a loan maximum of $5,000.

“The Midland Area Community Foundation believes in enriching and improving the quality of life in Midland County,” Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO, MACF said in a press release. “We have an opportunity to impact businesses and individuals who make up the heart and soul of the Midland community.”

Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy, a CMF corporate member, and her husband announced a $1 million personal donation to the Jackson Community Foundation to help small businesses in Jackson who are negatively impacted by COVID-19. The donation will establish the Dream Maker Small Business Emergency Relief Fund, which supports businesses until they can access state and federal resources.

“I think it’s important that we all do what we can right now to help our friends and neighbors,” Poppe said in a press release. “Small businesses are the heart of our state, and my husband and I are hopeful that we can do our part to help the businesses in our hometown through this extraordinary time.”

Jackson-area businesses who employ 50 or fewer workers are eligible to receive up to $5,000 to support operations over the next few weeks. The fund is also accepting donations to secure more funding for local businesses.

Several CMF members including the Community Foundation for St. Clair County, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and others are sharing resources and updates on small business support efforts from the communities they serve on their social media channels.

The New Economy Initiative has also been highlighting resources and TechTown Detroit’s Small Business Stabilization Fund which just wrapped up its application process.

Other resources have been established in the last few weeks on the state level and beyond to further support Michigan’s small businesses.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) launched the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, which authorized MEDC to provide up to $20 million to provide assistance to small businesses across the state negatively impacted by COVID-19. Assistance will come in the form of grants and loans, with funds becoming available no later than April 1.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19, many small businesses are faced with significant economic impacts, including challenges with cash flow and resources to support their workforce,” Mark Burton, president and CEO, MEDC said. “The Michigan Small Business Relief program will provide immediate assistance to the small businesses around the state who are facing revenue loss as a result of tough, but necessary steps that have been taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Business Leaders for Michigan has also launched an online Business Resource Center.

CMF has provided resources for foundations who are seeking to help small businesses during the outbreak. Steps foundations can take include:

  • Developing partnerships with chambers of commerce, local governments and businesses to address community needs and support the economic welfare of small businesses.

  • Purchasing from local businesses when possible.

  • Partnering with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to help local and small businesses gain access to loans during this time.

“In big ways or small, we all have a responsibility to care for our communities,” Poppe said. “We’re fortunate to be able to contribute in such a big way and hope to see others in Michigan take similar actions as we all come together by staying apart in the weeks ahead.”

Want more?

Read MACF’s press release.

Check out Consumer Energy’s press release.

Learn more about the Michigan Small Business Relief Program.

Visit CMF’s COVID-19 Resource Central webpage for grantmakers.






Canton Community Foundation Supports Seniors Experiencing Isolation

The Canton Community Foundation (CCF) has made changes to its Providing Others Renewed Confidence and Hope (PORCH) program to further support seniors in the community during COVID-19.

CCF launched PORCH in 2019 with the goal to mitigate social isolation seniors may be experiencing in rural areas. According to CCF, 43% of seniors feel lonely on a regular basis, which can lead to mental and physical health issues. The PORCH program recruits community members to visit seniors at least once per week for three months.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, CCF and PORCH volunteers remain committed to this mission while ensuring the safety and well-being of seniors and volunteers.

“The PORCH program was designed specifically to combat social isolation and loneliness,” Beth Meade, president and CEO, CCF said. “When we were recently forced to isolate, we knew the line of communication was more important than ever before.”

CCF is encouraging volunteers to continue contacting seniors remotely and help them obtain necessities while everyone in the state shelters in place in alignment with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives executive order.

“While we are physically isolated, we don’t have to socially isolate,” Meade said. “We are asking people to call our older friends and neighbors simply to have a conversation and break up their day. If they need groceries or prescriptions, we can offer that assistance.”

Members of CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging (MGIA) Affinity Group cite the importance of assisting the state’s aging population during this time.

“During this crisis, the philanthropic community must be agile and flexible when helping organizations that provide front-line services to vulnerable populations such as our seniors,” Vince Tilford, executive director, Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation and MGIA chair said. “In the long-run, philanthropy must also look for creative ways to rebuild and lift-up community-based organizations that will face increased demand for their programs in the aftermath of this pandemic.”

“We are a resilient, creative country and we need to use that creativity now to ‘virtually’ be there for everyone in our community,” Meade said.

Want more?

Learn more about the PORCH program.

Connect with the MGIA Affinity Group.






Grand Rapids Community Foundation Partners with Hispanic Center of Western Michigan to Ensure All Community Members Receive Information and Resources

Content excerpted and adapted from a foundation press release. Read the full release.

As individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations feel the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) has partnered with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan to support multilingual translation and interpretation services. This grant partnership will help ensure all members of the community have access to critical information about minimizing exposure to and spreading COVID-19, as well as resources.

“We encourage the use of this resource during this emergency, and also hope that organizations providing critical information regarding the support and wellbeing of all members of our community consider this approach in their communications moving forward,” Diana Sieger, president at GRCF said.

The center has the capability to translate written materials in 85 languages, in most cases within 24 hours. This includes same-day, simultaneous interpretation of things like press conferences or short videos.

“Lack of multi-language translation and interpretation of information further exacerbates the public health pandemic we are facing,” Adnoris ‘Bo’ Torres, executive director, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan said. “Because of our partnership with the community foundation, our language services department is working around the clock and can ensure every person in our community has accurate, timely information in their language.”

During this unprecedented time, the community foundation is actively communicating with community partners to ensure an informed and collaborative response to address the immediate and long-term impact of this crisis. 





Connecting Government and Philanthropy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her administration have taken sweeping actions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 while Michigan philanthropy has mobilized quickly as a stabilizing force. In this unprecedented time, the scale of this crisis will require new levels of coordination between all layers of government and the charitable sector. To facilitate and inform this coordination, CMF and the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) have been working to provide members with direct connections to state leaders and policymakers.

Last week CMF members and our partners from the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) virtually gathered with the governor and directors of key state agencies to discuss Michigan’s COVID-19 crisis. The governor and her team shared their current thinking and approach to crisis response and concerns while identifying areas of need. Overall, state leadership affirmed the critical importance of charitable partnerships to fill key gaps, leverage response funding, stabilize local efforts and bring thought leadership to the table. 

Below are key takeaways and updates from the governor and the directors of various state agencies who joined us, as captured by the OFL:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

  • Nonprofits and philanthropy are part of the “essential workforce” needed to respond to this global pandemic.

  • Slowing the spread of the virus and buying time is a guiding principle for the state’s response.

  • Projections show 70% of Michigan’s population could contract the virus; our health care system does not have the capacity to manage this scenario.

  • The state needs thought partnership from philanthropy, as creative solutions during these times are more important than ever.

Robert Gordon, director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS): 

  • Social distancing: MDHHS has been aggressively communicating critical public health information, especially around social distancing.

  • COVID-19 testing and tracing: Test availability is limited. There is a high demand for medical volunteers to support test delivery.

  • Virus surge readiness and preparedness: As the virus has not yet peaked in Michigan, MDHHS expects expansive needs for the products, places and people required to maintain public health.

  • Vulnerable populations: Seniors, pregnant women, those experiencing homelessness or unemployment and those experiencing mental health challenges may be most impacted.

Michael Rice, state superintendent, Michigan Department of Education (MDE):

  • Food distribution: There are currently concerns about near-term food shortages for students.

  • Distance learning: There is a massive need for devices, internet access and training for students, parents and teachers to ensure they can stay connected for e-learning.

  • Equity: When it comes to the weeks of school missed, it is expected that the time out of school will disproportionately impact low-income districts.

  • Mental health: There are concerns about family stress related to the pandemic and the need for social and emotional supports.

Jeff Donofrio, director Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO):

  • Unemployment insurance changes: There were 129,000 claims filed in a week compared with 77,000 claims at the height of the Great Recession.

    • The changes have led to increased eligibility to include self-employed workers, small business owners and gig workers, with work requirements waived.

    • The state has also increased the maximum benefit amount; the federal relief includes an additional $600 per week.

    • The benefit period has been extended from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.

Gary Heidel, acting director, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA):

  • Tax foreclosures have been temporarily suspended.

  • Housing Counseling Organizations: These service providers that work with people who need housing support now need financial support to sustain and will be critical moving into recovery.

  • Tenant/rent assistance: There’s a high need to support affordable housing for individuals who were recently laid off.

  • Homelessness: Communities need quality space for shelter and support for service providers during this crisis.

Chris Kolb, director, State Budget Office:

  • $150 million allocated at the state level so far; $1.2 billion in rainy day fund

  • $2 trillion federal relief package:  Under the bill, the state of Michigan estimates it will receive $3.8 billion total with $2.1 billion allotted for state government.

  • While Michigan does have support coming from the federal level, in the meantime priority needs include bridge funding for hospitals, food banks, FEMA match, utilities and preparedness equipment.

CMF is sharing the full recording of this call and other recent calls with Representative Debbie Dingell and U.S. Senator Gary Peters on our COVID-19 Resource Central webpage. Our team has added a dedicated section for state news and policy alerts to connect you to the latest developments.

CMF and OFL are continuing to develop a series of calls and webinars around the short-, medium- and long-term issues connected to COVID-19 response and relief efforts. We will be highlighting these virtual opportunities for members as well as sharing them via CMF’s events calendar as details become available.

News type: