More Opportunities on the Outside?
Our state is making gains to provide more opportunities for newly released prison inmates to succeed in obtaining jobs and reintegrating into their communities.
Governor Rick Snyder recently signed off on a new criminal justice reform package that’s aimed at rehabilitation efforts and ensuring better opportunities for inmates once they’re released, to keep them from reoffending and heading back to prison.
As the Detroit Free Press reports, out of Michigan’s 41,000 inmates about 30 percent return to prison within three years of release, with half locked up for parole or probation violations.
As CMF has reported, research has shown that having a family member or a parent in prison has a direct effect on a family’s financial stability and their children have higher chances of facing developmental, mental health and social issues.
Experts say it’s important to ensure inmates have connections in their communities to jobs and housing, not only for their family’s stability but also to stem the cyclical nature of crime, keeping communities safe.
Notable changes ahead for Michigan include:
Reducing the number of probation and parole violators who go back to prison by implementing progressive penalties and a 30-day jail limit for technical violations. This will reduce the amount of time a violator may be locked up, missing work and any other opportunities they may have in their communities.
Nonprofit, business and community organizations can apply to provide re-entry services to inmates, that include counseling services, information on housing, jobs and money management.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (MCPP) said the state should continue working on criminal justice reform, especially examining how fines and driver’s license suspension can affect low-income people.
Last week MCPP shared in a blog,“These penalties can present insurmountable challenges to people who are on a fixed income or working an entry-level job, and they may even prompt offenders to engage in more wrongdoing in order to make ends meet.”
Snyder said the current legislation is a step in the right direction as the state builds on its re-entry efforts and he hopes to see more work done that will “send fewer people to prison and allocate more resources to address the root causes of criminal behavior.”
What’s happening on the ground:
Butterball Farms, a Grand Rapids-based company, says 45 percent of its workforce is made up of former inmates.
The Detroit Reentry Center offers construction job training for inmates.
Earlier this month, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) launched a new program, Trading Places, that allows inmates to earn pre-apprenticeship credits to help them find a trade job once they’re released.
Trading Places is part of the Vocational Village at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia. CMF members visited the village in December to learn more about the workforce development efforts and opportunities.
“We met staff who spend all day, every day, making connections to potential employers and facilitating interviews and job searches in the months leading up to an inmate's end of sentence and return to society,” Katie Brisson, vice president of program, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, recently shared in a blog. “We met key leadership from the state corrections department dedicated to working upstream, making sure that the children of inmates do not end up on the same path.”
CMF and the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) continue to meet with the MDOC leadership to discuss opportunities and to encourage innovation and community partnerships.
Please contact Stephen Arellano from OFL to learn more about re-entry efforts.
Empowering African American Entrepreneurs
Business owners help catalyze job growth, enhance economic stability and contribute to the communities where they live. But are we helping to diversify the pipeline of entrepreneurs in our Michigan communities to ensure opportunities for all?
Metro Times reports, in Detroit, there isn’t a single African American-owned grocery store, in a city where African Americans make up 80 percent of the population.
The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network told Metro Times, “ownership of neighborhood institutions like grocery stores is one of the things African American communities can do to protect themselves from institutional racism and improve their economies.”
In Michigan, research shows most of the counties in the lower peninsula have less than 2,000 African American-owned businesses. While in the Detroit area, there's more than 40,000 but that number doesn't tell the entire story.
As Detroit Future City's research reflects, "few of these companies grow enough to hire even one employee," highlighting a disconnect in business growth and opportunities for African Americans.
There are disparities in the success rates, size and opportunities of African American-owned businesses and their white counterparts.
The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America, a new report funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, cites three major barriers facing African American entrepreneurs; the wealth gap, the credit gap and the trust gap, which is rooted in institutional bias in credit applications, clients and contract awards.
The report explores the challenges facing African American entrepreneurs but also seeks solutions to empower and support this growing field as economic engines in our communities.
The report highlights include:
African American-owned businesses are often smaller in both size and revenue than the average U.S. business.
African American-owned businesses supply jobs to one-fifth of the employed African American workforce. If those businesses could increase their growth and hiring, they would create nearly 600,000 new jobs.
The median net worth for African American entrepreneurs is 12 times higher than a nonbusiness owner.
There’s significant interest in entrepreneurship, as start-up rates are higher among African Americans than among white people.
79 percent of African American business owners say the current financing model is restricting them from growing their business.
There are many innovative channels and opportunities to empower marginalized communities.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the work already underway in Michigan:
The Skillman Foundation organized the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge which awarded funding to several projects that were aimed at developing entrepreneurship opportunities for young men of color.
New Detroit, Inc. offers workshops for minority small business owners and small business owners in low income Detroit neighborhoods.
The Michigan Women’s Foundation provides low-interest microloans to women entrepreneurs to eliminate financing barriers for startups.
The New Economy Initiative (NEI), supported by 11 CMF members, provides capital, training and mentorship opportunities for business owners who may not have access to conventional financing. Since 2009, more than 1,600 companies have launched with support of the NEI and 40 percent of them are owned by people of color.
Detroit’s Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has provided $2.75 million in capital to nearly 30 minority-owned businesses. The fund was created by the Detroit Development Fund and CMF members JP Morgan Chase and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The report recommends offering support through similar channels and initiatives that many CMF members are exploring.
Foster entrepreneurship opportunities in high-revenue sectors for African Americans.
Support innovative lending programs and capital products that free up access to loans.
Support technical assistance and funding for staffing and marketing outreach that’s culturally competent that addresses institutional bias.
Connect business owners with peer networks that can provide them with guidance on financial and human capital.
Provide access to child care, transportation and training scholarships for current entrepreneurs.
View resources from the Case Foundation’s Faces of Founders campaign
Check out the National Women’s Business Council’s Black Women Entrepreneurs: Past and Present Conditions of Black Women’s Business Ownership
Throughout Michigan our communities are working to be more inclusive and vibrant, catalyze economic growth and create opportunities for all. While we see innovative efforts statewide, how can smaller cities, often with fewer resources, capture the same momentum as bustling urban areas?
A new report, Looking for Progress in America’s Smaller Legacy Cities: A Report for Place-Based Funders, highlights the successes of Grand Rapids and three other U.S. cities in making progress in economic growth and opportunities. This brief guide showcases what’s working in place-based revitalization and the challenges that remain.
The report recommends considering these strategies in your community:
Address concentrated poverty by place, choose a starting point, for instance, underserved neighborhoods that are near transportation, schools, etc. before moving to the next location.
Revitalize downtown with a focus on affordable housing to ensure people aren’t forced out of the area due to rising property costs.
Develop emerging and future leaders through a diverse, cross-sector pipeline.
Data-driven decision making, funders can support the collection and maintenance of data that’s publicly available and provides neighborhood-level insights as well as comprehensive city-wide information.
In Grand Rapids, place-based funders have played a large role in the city’s revitalization, from spurring downtown development to investments in the city’s booming medical industry to economic and workforce development efforts.
The report highlights the successes of The Right Place and the Grand Action, while both had a significant impact on the revitalization and the landscape of Grand Rapids. We're digging deeper to share current initiatives at work that align with the report's recommendations for place-based funders.
The Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s place-based work is zeroing in on the city’s growing west side, recent initiatives include:
The Challenge Scholars program provides free college for students living on the city’s west side, offering them college readiness support starting in the 6th grade. The program was created to address the education attainment gap on the city’s west side and retain talent in the community.
Numerous grants have been awarded to support affordable housing initiatives in Grand Rapids, most recently the community foundation awarded $500,000 to the Dwelling Place to help build multi-family affordable housing for those living on the city’s developing west side.
The community foundation awarded a grant to help local organizations share and track data that addresses inequities in the community.
The community foundation, Frey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Steelcase Foundation support the work of Rapid Growth Media. The online news outlet’s On the Ground series shares stories from neighborhoods with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.
These approaches are all ways to advanced place-based work in your community, no matter the size.
The report points out that there needs to be a clear understanding that growth and opportunity are not automatically synced in a community. It takes strategic efforts, policies, programs and investments to link growth to equitable opportunities for those living in a community.
The researchers urge place-based funders to consider the long game for their community, projects and initiatives that may span decades instead of years, to achieve a greater impact.
Ford Foundation leverages $1 billion of its endowment for impact investing
Content excerpted and adapted from Ford Foundation’s Equals Change Blog
The Ford Foundation has committed $1 billion of its endowment over the next 10 years to be used for mission-related investments (MRIs).
MRIs are investments that can achieve social impact and financial returns.
The foundation’s MRIs will initially focus on investments that support affordable and inclusive housing. They will also examine how MRIs could expand access to financial services in developing countries.
“We have come to believe that if we expect to overcome the forces of injustice and inequality, we need to expand our imaginations and our arsenals,” Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation said. “In short, we must begin to more deliberately leverage the power of our endowment.”
The foundation is building a team of investment professionals to manage their MRIs and will track and report out on the social and financial returns. Ford Foundation plans to share what they learn from their MRIs with the field.
“In time, I fervently believe, we will see a thriving, mature sector in which everyone can make impact investments that produce both sustainable financial returns and substantial social returns,” Walker said. “Maybe it will take decades more to get there. But we’ll never know if we don’t make a start.”
CMF works with members and its Impact Investing Committee, which is driven by members, to help foundations explore and connect with impact investing initiatives.
Interested in learning more? Please contact CMF.