The Download

The Download

May 9, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

Food Chain Impact

The first loans through Northern Initiatives from the Michigan Good Food Fund have been approved and are now in the hands of a farmer, a small food manufacturer and a farm to fork restaurant. This is a significant move in the mission-driven $30 million fund as it supports good food enterprises in our state. Thanks to the loan, the farmer will now expand their product line, a sign of how this money will touch our food chain, leading to increased access to healthy food for Michigan families. The Michigan Good Food Fund, led into creation by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a first-of-its-kind effort to create financial and social impact from food production, processing, distribution and retail.

Looking at the numbers, a startling 1.8 million Michiganders live in lower income communities with limited access to healthy food. This fund has great reach across many platforms in the food industry to try to lower that number. Beyond the expanded access to good food, the economic impact of the food and agriculture business in our state is $101.2 billion every year. These loans serve to not only make food more accessible, but also to bolster the three local businesses, helping their communities.

The Office of Foundation Liaison is a partner with the Michigan Good Food Fund. Here’s a look at the foundations investing in this mission-driven project.

Interested in partnering? Contact the Good Food Fund. 






Detroit's Reemergence

The Motor City’s momentum continues as it marks a year and a half since its historic bankruptcy officially ended. Since then, signs of reemergence in business, the arts, recreation and beyond have shown real promise for Detroit. Another milestone in its growth, thanks to philanthropic and public partnerships, was marked recently as the Dequindre Cut extension formally opened in Detroit.

Once an abandoned rail corridor, the Dequindre Cut is an example of philanthropy at work. It has transformed a once forgotten space into a greenway where families can be active, explore their city, connect with neighborhoods, farmers’ markets and urban artwork. Looking at the before and after photos highlights the transformation and how it has become a vibrant pathway for events, activities and connections within the community. The recently opened extension will eventually connect to 20 miles of paths circling downtown, creating more access for bikers, runners and walkers.

Another recently celebrated success in Detroit is the ongoing gains from the New Economy Initiative (NEI). The collaborative
effort has created more than 17,000 jobs in the region since it began. The initial $100 million fund, created in 2007, has been credited with supporting minority startups, among other areas of growth.

While philanthropic partnerships continue to fuel progress in Detroit, there is more work to be done. More than 300 business leaders were recently asked about their sentiment towards Detroit, and while the majority said they believe Detroit is a good place for investment, its crime rate needs to be improved to be a more attractive city. The Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Reinvestment Index reveals 84 percent of business leaders involved in the study are confident that “Detroit can become a great city again.”

Want to see for yourself?

  • Join your peers on Monday, June 13, as CMF hosts a bus tour of Detroit, showing the growing opportunities and social enterprise happening in the city.
  • Join family philanthropists June 24-26 at the Family Philanthropy Retreat in Detroit, and select your choice of three eye-opening Detroit tours. 






Parents in Prison

With the recent release of "A Shared Sentence" by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we're taking a look at the impact on children of incarcerated parents, and a promising way that Michigan is combatting the cyclical nature of criminal activity.

"A Shared Sentence" examines the critical developmental and social issues children face as their parent is behind bars. The report shows those children often live in broken families, face social isolation and often struggle to form meaningful community ties.

The effects on children are staggering:

  • Having a parent incarcerated is a stressful, traumatic experience of the same magnitude as abuse, domestic violence, and divorce.

  • Incarcerated parent(s) are correlated with an increase in mental health issues for children.

  • 65 percent of families with a loved one behind bars could not meet basic needs.

The financial burden highlighted in the study shows the vicious cyclical nature of criminal activity.  Many mothers and fathers who are released are unable to find and maintain a job to support their family, leading to further crimes and recidivism. In Michigan, the state spends nearly $30 million on programming to help inmates find success once they are released. One program that is gaining traction for our state is the Vocational Village, which was launched earlier this year at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia. 

In the Vocational Village, inmates nearing release can learn carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other vocational trades. Calvin College is also offering classes at the facility, giving inmates a chance to earn bachelor’s degrees. The Michigan Department of Corrections said they have already seen early positive outcomes from the program, with discipline reports dropping dramatically since its inception in February. The Vocational Village is intended to provide a much-needed pathway for reconnecting inmates with a sustainable career on the outside. The Office of Foundation Liaison's Foundation Coordinator Stephen Arellano recently toured the village, speaking with staff and inmates, and reflected, "Spirits were high when a Vocational Village graduate speaker directed his comments to the inmates and reaffirmed that there were good, scalable jobs available to those that get the skills through the Vocational Village."

While outcomes measurements are in the distant future, the Vocational Village approach is provoking conversation and challenging assumptions on the most effective investments for those interested in workforce reentry in our state. With 53,000 prisoners in Michigan, what might scalable considerations look like? 

Want more?

Read the full report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation








Wege Foundation gives $1 million to Grand Rapids high school

Excerpted from, see original article

The Wege Foundation has donated $1 million to a campaign to sustainably renovate a Grand Rapids high school in great need of repairs.

West Catholic High School will use the donation to transform its Learning Center into a LEED-certified area for students. The new facility will eventually host year-round programming with colleges and groups for all students on the city’s West Side. The Wege Foundation has previously provided West Catholic with grants for Science Olympiad, robotics, and pre-engineering programs, as well as providing tuition assistance. A previous grant from Wege was instrumental in the construction of the updated gymnasium. The high school has been undergoing renovations to add programming and update the aging building.

A focus on education and the environment are key to the Wege Foundation’s mission.


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