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Statewide Equity Fund Strategic Support Pilot


The Statewide Equity Fund (SEF) is a $2 million CMF member-driven fund to empower Michigan philanthropy to strategically pool resources toward systemic change. 

The SEF Strategic Support Pilot was designed to provide the infrastructure needed to help shape American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and other federal dollars toward equity-centered approaches to advance economic prosperity in communities. 

Through the pilot, five regional collaborative sites, led by CMF members, are working closely with their local units of government to help shape investments toward equitable outcomes within the focus area of economic prosperity. 

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Community Foundation of Marquette County, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the Pontiac Funders Collaborative served as the regional collaborative site leads piloting this work in their respective geographic service areas. 

The pilot:

  • Provided the regional collaboratives with information on state and federal funding policy as well as opportunities to shape federal funding and inventory philanthropy’s investments. 
  • Connected regional collaboratives with technical assistance providers to share innovative approaches, metrics and tools to help inform investments. 
  • Created spaces for shared learning across regions with peer-to-peer exchange and learning opportunities with similar models underway across the country. 

This work is rooted in the understanding that philanthropy has a critical role as a convenor, bridge builder and advocate for equitable, inclusive, community-centered decision-making.

Highlights from the Participants in the SEF Strategic Support Pilot 

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is building a coalition that centers the voices of connected community leaders, with support from the SEF. The coalition is hosted and supported by the community foundation and the county for the purpose of influencing public funding. 

Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) is partnering with organizations to improve the social determinants of health for Flint residents through civic participation. They engaged Flint’s community to guide ARPA funding allocation equitably, leveraging pre-existing coalitions and fostering resident involvement. 

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is working with the city of Grand Rapids to support a Participatory Budgeting process that engages residents in allocating $2 million of ARPA resources. GRCF partnered with several community-based organizations and funders, including CMF members, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Wege Foundation, Steelcase Foundation and Frey Foundation.

Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC) partnered with Marquette County, utilizing their master plan, to access funding to support a new childcare initiative. Childcare SPARK is designed to create a pipeline of childcare providers who can offer economically viable and financially sustainable high-quality care services for all families in the region. 

The Pontiac Funders Collaborative (PFC) is supporting Pontiac organizations’ collaboration and capacity to influence, manage and deploy ARPA funding toward equitable outcomes for entrepreneurs and youth in Pontiac. PFC’s approach includes two main phases with SEF Strategic Support Pilot funds: technical support to local groups to help with equitable economic growth and projects rolled out for entrepreneurs leveraging government funds. 

“We funded this SEF work with three goals: to ensure equity was at the heart of ARPA fund distribution; to ensure community participation in budgeting; and to build and deepen cross-sector partnerships with foundations and municipalities.”
– Wendy Lewis Jackson, Managing Director, Detroit Program, The Kresge Foundation 

Lessons learned from the SEF informed the CMF/DNR Spark Grant Program Partnership, brokered by OFL, between CMF and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that community voice is centered in expanding access to recreation spaces and programs for communities that have been historically under-represented and under-resourced. We are capturing learnings along the way and identifying areas where public policy can be strengthened to allow for greater responsiveness to these unique and innovative partnerships. 

The learning and insights that emerge from this work will inform long-term strategies for Michigan philanthropy to advance equity-centered approaches, collectively. 

SEF Supporters

Thank you to the CMF members who generously funded the SEF, featured below:

  • Ballmer Group 
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation 
  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan 
  • DTE Energy Foundation 
  • Ford Foundation 
  • Grand Rapids Community Foundation 
  • The Hudson-Webber Foundation 
  • The Joyce Foundation 
  • The Kresge Foundation 
  • Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation 
  • The Skillman Foundation 
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

Questions about the SEF?