The Download

The Download

July 11, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Education Failing Our Kids

Michigan education is in a tailspin, recently dropping into a painful ranking, the top 10 worst states in the country for education. The startling statistics leave philanthropists, community leaders and parents around the state asking, what can we do?

Governor Rick Snyder's 21st Century Education Commission recently held its first meeting to seek out solutions for our education system. The commission was created earlier this year to share recommendations for an education system that positions Michigan as a national leader in developing talent to address today’s economy demands. Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Education has shared its plan for Michigan to become a top 10 education state in 10 years.

The Council of Michigan Foundations has connected with The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM), a nonpartisan, data-driven education policy, research and advocacy organization, to get a better understanding of our educational shortfalls and develop a road map for improvement. ETM recently shared its research with CMF and its board of trustees. 

The Research

  • Michigan is in the bottom 10 states for literacy and math
  • Michigan is one of only a few states in the nation who posted learning losses in overall student performance in fourth-grade reading
  • Low income fourth grade students of color in Boston are three years ahead of their Michigan counterpart in instruction
  • Detroit’s African American and Latino students ranked last in the country in fourth and eighth grade math compared to their counterparts in other large urban districts
  • Michigan teacher attendance ranks 41 out of 46 states, about 46 percent of teachers in our state missed more than 10 days of work

It’s not that we lack spending, Michigan is in the top 10 per pupil spending states overall and an increase was allotted in the 2017 state budget, yet our children are still behind. In fact, Tennessee has a similar level of per pupil spending and percentage of low income students, yet it has been outpacing Michigan for years.

There's another urgent issue before us as the Michigan Department of Education is currently proposing Michigan create a new test for the 2017-2018 school year, that would not provide comparable data that Michigan students, parents and leaders need to make Michigan a top 10 education state, according to ETM. The annual state assessment that's currently in place, the M-STEP, serves as a yardstick for measuring student achievement. ETM shared that our current assessment fully measures our high academic standards, is nationally benchmarked and provides comparable data with more than a dozen other states. As a result, not only can we see student achievement within schools and districts, but we can also see how Michigan student performance compares to student performance in several other states. As Michigan works on our new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, including how we report on student performance and hold schools accountable for serving all students well, this kind of comparable and transparent information is especially important. 

What can our philanthropic community do? For starters, ETM is encouraging foundation leaders to talk to their legislators about concerns over this proposed testing change, they shared some talking points for our members interested in tackling this issue.

  •  ETM said the state needs to stay the course with our current statewide assessment and give teachers and students the time to transition, and state leaders the opportunity to learn from the data that will be made available for the first time this fall.
  • Michigan needs information about how it’s performing against world-class college- and career-standards and other states.

Amber Arellano, the founding executive director of ETM, stressed the need to build a multisector table to address the critical needs of Michigan’s education system. ETM is working with our legislators but more could still be done. Arellano and others wrote in their research, “the path we take during the next five years will be critical in determining which destination we reach.”

ETM launched the Michigan Achieves campaign last year, geared to make Michigan a top 10 education state by 2030.

What’s ahead?

ETM says Michigan faces a historic two-year window of opportunity to dramatically improve its statewide systems of education due to the new ESSA that’s expected to define Michigan systems of public reporting, school quality, accountability, goal-setting and school talent. ETM said it’s critical that leaders in education, philanthropy, business, community and government work together to shape these systems over the next two years.

CMF with its P-20 Education affinity group, will continue to keep you updated on the work being done to advance Michigan's education system by ETM, the Governor's Commission and others.

Read ETM’s report: Michigan’s Talent Crisis: The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan’s Broken Public Education System








Aging America

A rapidly growing senior citizen population is on the horizon and our network of systems from housing to healthcare are not prepared, stressed the recently released report, Healthy Aging Begins at Home. The report by the Bipartisan Policy Center details specific challenges for aging Americans, shortfalls in our aging services and areas of need that require attention by our lawmakers, the private sector and the nonprofit sector. It’s predicted that we will see this extensive growth of our senior population over the next 15 years.

Senior statistics

  • By 2030, 74 million Americans will be 65 years of age or more.
  • Those 85 and above are the nation’s fastest growing demographic group.
  • About 70 percent of adults over 65 will need help with long-term services and support, including bathing, food preparation, dressing and medication management, which are not covered under Medicare.

The Senior Health and Housing Task Force, established by the Bipartisan Policy Center, notes that our country is lacking a comprehensive plan when it comes to affordable housing for low income seniors, and most homes and communities lack the features and support services for seniors to continue living independently in their homes.

Challenge areas

  • Lack of affordable homes for our nation’s lowest-income seniors.
  • Homes and communities need to be transformed into places where seniors can age with options.
  • The need for better integration of health care and supportive services with housing.
  • The need for technology on a broader scale to help everyone age successfully.

A strong factor in many of the challenges is linked to senior finances considering over the next 20 years a large percentage of seniors are projected to have financial assets totaling $25,000 or less. The report recommends creating better connections between health and housing, including a suggestion that Congress should identify ways to more effectively support the service coordination needs of senior housing providers, particularly mission-oriented nonprofits. 

Michigan has more than 2.1 million people over 60 years of age, making up 21.9 percent of our state’s population, according to the latest report by the Michigan Aging and Adult Services Agency. The Michigan Health Endowment Fund notes that by 2030, one-in-four people in Michigan will be over the age of 60 and states that, “we know there is an ever-increasing need for aging programs and services, and our current network is not prepared for an influx of older adults into the system.” The Michigan Health Endowment Fund just announced the launch of its first proactive Healthy Aging grant round. The program was developed to support strategies that integrate aging services into other health systems, develop innovative approaches through technology and increase access to preventative services.

Many of our CMF members are actively engaged in grantmaking and supporting aging needs and services. The Jewish Fund has prioritized older adults in its grantmaking, with an emphasis on supporting services for senior health and independent living. They awarded a grant to Jewish Family Service to provide personal emergency response systems, which help in the event of medical crises for an expanded population of low-income older adults.

Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, which has senior living communities throughout the state, currently spends about $1.4 million each year for residents who are in need of financial assistance so they may remain in their homes.  Presbyterian Villages of Michigan Foundation is working to increase its Benevolence Endowment Fund by at least $5 million by the end of 2017, to help support thousands of seniors who outlive their financial resources.

CMF’s Michigan Grantmakers in Aging Affinity Group has developed a comprehensive session, The Age Wave: A Call to Action, for our 44th Annual Conference this fall.  A host of experts will discuss the trend, challenges and what steps funders and communities can take.








Latinos 2025

Michigan is home to more than 430,000 Hispanics and Latinos and that number is expected to more than double by 2040, with Latino children slated as the fastest growing segment of Michigan children. The Julian Samora Research Institute (JSRI) at Michigan State University published a comprehensive needs assessment, funded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the William Davidson Foundation, that chronicles the need and importance of supporting the Hispanic and Latino community in Michigan.  The report is titled Latinos 2025, in hope that with proactive steps that address the needs of our Latino communities, by the year 2025 Michigan will be stronger and brighter. The report studied important societal categories such as education, economic well-being, health, civic engagement, community well-being and immigration. The report detailed many disparities, including household income.

  • Median household income for Michigan, $47,793
  • Median household income for Latinos, $36,702
  • Median household income for Detroit Latinos, $29,419

Latinos have higher unemployment rates, and a higher percentage of food insecurity in their households than the Michigan average. Meanwhile they are more engaged in voting, with the highest voter registration and participation rates, higher than the white or African-American population.

The report has several important recommendations, most stemming from the fact that poverty needs to be solved, as it serves as a domino effect for how the rest of issues fall: education, health, civic engagement and community well-being.


  • More bilingual programs and after-school programs for Latino students, including tutoring and transportation
  • Supporting Latino businesses and promoting Latino business corridors
  • Provide cultural awareness training for teachers and administrators
  • Increase the number of Latinos representing their communities in committees and government positions

Foundation Center data from 2007-2009 tracked foundation giving designated for the Latino population, and Michigan foundations gave more than $7.8 million through 125 grants during that period. The data also showed that population grown for Latinos in Michigan rose by 34.7 percent from 2000-2010, with 29.4 percent of Latinos in our state living in poverty, showing that the need for grant support continues to rise.

Many Michigan foundations support Latino needs, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who funds the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan in Grand Rapids. The center provides many services for the growing Hispanic population in Kent County (58,000 as measured by the 2010 census), including English speaking classes, civil legal assistance, survivor advocacy services, domestic violence programs and transportation aid.

Read more from Latinos 2025.







Sustainability Costing Tool

The Sustainability Costing Tool is a new resource available to members on our website, providing a simplified approach to conducting analysis to enable a community foundation of any size to develop a better understanding of its revenue and expenses.

“It helped us revise policies so we could be more sustainable and it helped us look at the future—what types of funds and services do we want to offer and where do we want to put our energy?” Dana Bensinger, executive director of the Otsego County Community Foundation said. “We found that utilizing the costing tool provided an ‘aha’ to our board and valuable insight into the strategy beyond our lines of work that generate funds.”

The toolkit is a collaboration by Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, Philanthropy Ohio and the Council of Michigan Foundations. The hope is that community foundations will use the tool to generate data that will empower them to develop a path toward sustainability.


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