The Download

The Download

December 14, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Email Phishing Attempts: An Alert for the CMF Community

While the Michigan Attorney General’s office is sounding the alarm about scams connected to online shopping and COVID-19, CMF staff identified an email threat within our own network.

CMF was alerted to two situations where nonprofit board treasurers received emails disguised as if they were sent by the board chairs, asking for specific financial information. Both situations took place last week involving CMF board members and staff who serve in a treasurer role on an outside board.

CMF’s technology team investigated the issue and determined these were very targeted and customized email attacks.

The suspicious messages included:

  • Claims about unpaid invoices.

  • Requests for banking information.

  • Real email signatures of the individuals the scammer was portraying.

In both situations, the individuals who were contacted did not have any of the information the scammer was seeking, and due to the suspicious nature of the emails, immediately alerted CMF’s technology team.

CMF is working closely with our state and national partners in monitoring this issue. At this time, we have not received any information to indicate this is a widespread attack. 

How can you protect yourself?

  • Be suspicious of any emails asking for credit card or banking information.

  • Verify the sender’s email address. Many hacking attempts use a similar email with typos or may use a “[email protected]” or [email protected] in an attempt to appear credible.

  • Do not respond to unexpected requests or transactions. If you have a question or concern call the individual at their known phone number. Do not call the phone number listed in the email.

CMF is Here to Support You

If you have questions or concerns about an email you receive or need any additional resources, we encourage you to connect with Bill Corkill, senior vice president for IT and membership systems. We also encourage you to forward any emails related to an attempted phishing attack, fraud or any other suspicious emails to [email protected] so that we may track and monitor these messages. We will use this data to continue informing our community of philanthropy about new threats or attempts taking place across our field.

 

 

Advocating for Year-End COVID-19 Relief Legislation

With the economic strain on Michiganders and many safety net supports set to expire at the end of the month, CMF is urging Congress to advance COVID-19 relief legislation this week.

CMF sent a letter to members of Congress on Friday urging they move swiftly with a federal relief package and prioritize investments in early childhood care and education, broadband, unemployment insurance and statutory changes for the census. 

As our community of philanthropy continues to respond to the crisis, the stability of the infrastructure that supports our communities will require additional long-term investments. 

Specific asks in our letter to policymakers included:

  • Support Our Child Care System: CMF is calling for $50 billion to be allocated to the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program to support providers and families.  

  • Invest in Broadband Access: We are urging Congress to invest a minimum of $15 billion in emergency funds to support broadband internet access. This would include approximately $12 billion to close the education digital divide through connected devices and hotspots, $3 billion for emergency home connectivity, $200 million for telemedicine grants and $24 million for broadband mapping.  

  • Extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Record numbers of new Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims are still being filed as we near the expiration of federal relief under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. CMF is seeking an extension of federal emergency UI benefits.

  • Extend Census 2020 Statutory Reporting Deadlines: To ensure our communities receive the federal funding and supports they need, it is imperative the U.S. Census Bureau has enough time to ensure quality, precision and accuracy in the census count process. CMF is urging Congress to extend the statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting.  

We invite you to read the full letter. This week, CMF – in partnership with the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Michigan Association of United Ways – will send a joint letter highlighting urgent needs to state lawmakers, as well.

CMF also continues to work alongside our national partners, including Independent Sector, the Council on Foundations and United Philanthropy Forum, in a shared pursuit to drive long-term sustainable recovery by strengthening the physical, social, civic and economic infrastructure that drives life outcomes in communities.

Want more?

CMF seeks to fortify the field through public policy action, and champion the policy leadership of CMF members. Learn more.

If you have questions on CMF’s policy work or how to further advance your own organization’s advocacy work we invite you to connect with Regina Bell, director of government relations and public policy at CMF.

 

 

MDE Establishes Child Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health Network

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) with support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (the Health Fund), has created a network to broaden and deepen social and emotional learning (SEL) and child mental health practices across the state.

The network will help to increase professional development opportunities for school staff—including school health coordinators, school counselors, school psychologists, educators and administrators—in SEL best practices. SEL is comprised of five competencies: self-awareness, awareness of others, self-management, relationship to others and decision making.

“This work is essential and consistent with the state’s strategic education plan in promoting the health, safety and wellness for all of our children, both physically and socio-emotionally,” Dr. Casandra Ulbrich, State Board of Education president, said in a press release.

The Health Fund has provided MDE with a $500,000 grant to help school districts better embed SEL in classroom instruction and out-of-school time. MDE will partner with 20 districts in these efforts, selected through a competitive application.

“We are building on the important efforts from the last several years and making them into a more cohesive initiative that will affect a broader range of interested schools, school districts, children and staff,” Dr. Michael Rice, state superintendent said.

This is just the latest effort from the Health Fund to support student mental health and SEL during the pandemic and beyond.

As CMF reported in April, the Health Fund provided support to Manistee Area Public Schools for online and teletherapy for students.

Several CMF members have supported the University of Michigan’s Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students (TRAILS) program, which provides mental health resources to schools across the state. TRAILS is supported by the Health Fund, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Children’s Foundation, the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation and The Jewish Fund.

In June, four CMF members—The Ethel & James Flinn FoundationThe Skillman Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Health Fund—partnered with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) to launch the Detroit COVID-19 Therapy Collaborative, a platform providing therapy and behavioral health resources for children and families ages 14 years and older.

“We’ve never experienced this before. We’re facing so much uncertainty, and we shouldn’t have to do it alone,” Andrea Cole, executive director and CEO of the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation said. “This is a trying time for all of us, but especially for young people who may already be struggling with mental health issues.”

Want more?

Read MDE’s press release on the SEL network.

 

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

CMF Member Serves on National Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Threats

Phyllis D. Meadows, MSN, Ph.D., RN and senior fellow, health programming at The Kresge Foundation is serving on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.

Meadows, a CMF member, has served on the committee since its inception in March. The standing committee includes approximately 25 members with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, public health, public health preparedness and response, biological sciences, clinical care and crisis standards of care, risk communication and regulatory issues.

The committee advises federal government agencies, primarily through consulting and rapidly responding to issues related to COVID prevention, testing, health care, masking, safe school opening criteria and most recently considerations regarding the equitable distribution of emerging vaccines. 

“The experience on the committee has been phenomenal,” Meadows told CMF. “It has allowed me to contribute my skills in public health and nursing towards addressing immediate and anticipated COVID related issues and to do so with great and dedicated professionals in the health field. The process has been grueling at times, largely due to the rapid pace the work has demanded, yet every moment has been worth it to have a voice that is heard around issues that are critical to managing the spread of disease in communities - especially those who are most vulnerable such as our front-line essential workers.”

Within our Michigan community, Meadows serves on CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy Committee which has stayed closely connected with CMF’s COVID-19 Working Group, an ad hoc committee of CMF, composed of 25 foundation leaders and partners collaborating to help connect, strengthen and mobilize the Michigan community of philanthropy in advancing a collective responses to the short- and long-term challenges of the pandemic.  

Meadows reflected on her work in Michigan and the intersections with her work on the national level.

“I have found the discussions and considerations for current and future investments to be squarely aligned with many of the issues and approaches that are surfacing on the national level. I do believe the primary areas of concern are at the local level and are contextually driven,” Meadows shared. “There is strong agreement that the status of the public health infrastructure and community health system is challenged. I would hope that we could use the events of today to become clearer on how we can best strengthen our local health infrastructure now and into the future. The philanthropic sector needs to build on its collaborative efforts and think creatively about how we can better coordinate and augment the work that is going on nationally - especially that which has implications for our state and its most vulnerable communities.”

Meadows said the standing committee recently discussed how their work will continue with the new administration in 2021.

Want more?

Read more about the standing committee.

Learn more about CMF’s COVID-19 Working Group.

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