We Must be the Leaders Our Communities Need
The violence, the peaceful protests and civil unrest in communities across Michigan and our nation are stark reminders that this country’s original sin – racism – is an open wound that some experience every day. We are not that “more perfect union.”
The brutal act that took the life of George Floyd comes at a time when so many of us are experiencing feelings of isolation, fear and frustration due to COVID-19. These are some of the same feelings that many persons of color understand all too well. Our task at hand is to act on our love for humankind – the true embodiment of philanthropy.
I have struggled with my own role as a leader, especially as a man of color. How can I help move us forward? This is the question for all of us as leaders in philanthropy. While there are many who are working hard to advance progress, some may be struggling to find that way forward, perhaps needing support and guidance out of this morass.
Our community of philanthropy has made progress calling out the need for diversity, to be inclusive. Our work has been grounded in equity, but we also know there is much more to do. We see the result of racial inequities across all areas of our work, from the environment to education, from aging to economic development.
Our role is to neither quell the fury of those experiencing the sharp pain of injustice, nor to stoke the flames of anger. We must create safe places for our communities to come together, to create ways of exploring the possible.
How do we do that?
We begin by bringing the conversation of equity into every convening of our stakeholders and not shy away from the hard issues. Saying that it is beyond our scope or responsibility is no longer sufficient. We must set the table for these conversations. Equity is not something that happens alongside of our work. It is our work.
We have a crucial role, to shine a light on the way forward by bringing everyone on this journey. We can support dialogue between those who are calling for change and those who truly don’t see or don’t understand these deeply ingrained societal problems. In our role as trusted conveners, we can give communities the support to do this challenging and essential work together.
Much of our sector brings decades of expertise to the work of creating community-driven solutions and engaging with partners to bring those solutions to scale. In this time of crisis, we must lean on our strengths to expand opportunities for civil discourse and shared understanding, and include all who want to bend the arch of humanity toward justice.
CMF is committed to exploring and learning with you, to providing leadership for the field and serving as a partner on your journey. Our CMF staff is continuing our own journey, as well. We are eager to support your work and help bring about peace, equality and justice.
Our Michigan community of philanthropy is hyper connected, solutions oriented and perpetually optimistic. We are also remarkably resilient. We must be the leaders our communities need to ensure that the opportunity for resilience is accessible to all.
Planning Considerations for Returning to the Workplace
Today, restaurants and other businesses will resume operations with special health and safety guidelines in place. Now that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, other businesses and organizations are likely also looking ahead to when they may reopen their own offices safely.
There’s a growing list of resources about working remotely and reopening offices on CMF’s COVID-19 Resource Central site. Tammie TenBroeke, human relations and grants manager at CMF, has been researching this topic and engaging in conversations with members to discuss their planning, particularly with CMF’s Talent and HR Affinity Group.
This week we are sharing best practices sourced from members around the state when it comes to plans and approaches to re-entering office spaces. The timeline for reopening may differ from organization to organization but there are commonalities when it comes to considerations that may be top of mind.
Communicate openly and frequently. Make sure leadership is in regular contact with staff to provide updates on the development of procedures surrounding the reopening of the office.
Establish a written return-to-work plan. While plans may be in-progress as more news and information becomes available, having a framework in place can prepare leadership and staff for what may come and ensure key protocols are well documented.
Ensure equity is at the center of plans: Plans should include flexibility for staff at an individual level, recognizing the disproportionate impact of racial disparities during this pandemic and beyond, that some staff may have personal health conditions, experiencing a lack of child care or need to care for a family member who is ill.
Form a committee. Internal committees comprised of leadership and staff regarding the reopening of offices can ensure staff needs and desires are met during the planning process.
Consider a phased re-entry approach. Returning to workplaces suddenly could have negative consequences for staff. A phased approach allows staff to return gradually while implementing safety measures that can be changed easily if needed.
Listen to experts. Continue to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state of Michigan, and others.
Employee health and safety. Require daily temperature checks, provide personal protection equipment (PPE) and institute social distancing practices.
Employee privacy. Provide additional training on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to inform employees when and how to disclose possible health issues that may be affected by returning to an office.
Employee mental health. Engage in regular check-ins with staff, ensuring they feel supported and acknowledging the importance of their mental health and well-being.
The Skillman Foundation, a CMF member, formed a committee of staff and leadership to address reopening their office in Detroit. So far, the committee has drafted a phased return-to-work plan which includes procedures for a gradual increase in the number of staff allowed in the office, protocols related to employees who disclose health concerns and state and local conditions that must be met for the office to progress through the reopening process.
“Our planning is centered around the health and safety of our team members and their families,” said Maria Woodruff-Wright, vice president of operations and CFO at The Skillman Foundation. “This is a gradual process, but we will be prepared when the time comes to reopen our office.”
CMF has been working on our own organization’s plan to support our staff in a safe return to our offices. If you’re interested in learning more or seeing a draft please connect with Tammie TenBroeke, human relations and grant manager at CMF.
On Friday, June 19, CMF, Michigan Nonprofit Association, Michigan Community Resources and Co.act Detroit will launch a new, interactive partner series to provide guidance to Michigan’s nonprofits as they consider re-entry into the workplace. The new series begins with a conversation led by the CEOs of each hosting organization. These nonprofit leaders will delve into opportunities for transition in our sector, from how we once worked to how we can redefine the nonprofit workplace. Together they will discuss planning for the reengagement of paid staff and volunteers, highlighting key considerations in people-first decision making grounded in equity. This session will also feature legal guidance to consider in developing a re-entry plan. We are honored to welcome to this conversation Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who will help us kick off the series and discuss her administration’s efforts around re-entry. Learn more and register.
MCFYP Leaders Reallocate Funding to Support Youth During Crisis
The Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project (MCFYP) Committee has launched a COVID-19 grant program to support Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) that may be in need of additional funding to support youth in their communities who have been affected by the pandemic.
The MCFYP Committee is comprised of 12 YAC members and three YAC Advisors from around the state. The committee sets the agenda for statewide YAC initiatives, leads the design of the annual Youth Grantmakers Summer Leadership Conference and supports other key youth engagements and projects for our 86 YACs at community foundations.
In April, the MCFYP Committee announced the cancelation of the Summer Leadership Conference out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of members. The committee used funds that were originally earmarked for the conference to provide $30,000 in grant funding for YACs.
"In light of the current circumstances, it is vital to recognize and address the needs of Michigan's youth,” Ryan Lindberg, a second-year member of the MCFYP Committee, YAC chair and youth trustee of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area said. “While it is disappointing to not be able to gather this summer for our annual conference, it is encouraging to see the conference funds being used to directly help young people during this time."
In addition to directing funding to youth in need, the MCFYP Committee is focused on continued engagement of YACers throughout the summer, connecting with them through virtual conversations and programming. The committee adapted its slate of conference breakout session content to become a series of virtual lessons centered on knowledge building.
The MCFYP Committee also recently gathered for a virtual conversation to discuss the wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for people of color, those who live in low-income households, those experiencing homelessness and other marginalized populations. The virtual conversation will be shared with YAC advisors for ongoing reflection and conversations with their YACs.
Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF, recently talked with Inside Philanthropy about the history, role and growth of MCFYP and YACs in Michigan. Caldwell highlighted their crucial role as youth leaders and how quickly they shifted their focus and efforts amid the pandemic.
“We learned from them. We learned how to adapt. That’s the mode of problem solving that we all need to adopt,” Caldwell said.
Learn more about the grant program.
We encourage all members to share your organization’s COVID-19 response with us via this online form to help foster continued learning, connections and shared understanding about Michigan philanthropy’s response, relief, recovery and reform efforts connected to COVID-19. All information submitted from our members will be populated on our COVID-19 Resource Central site for you to quickly access the latest approaches, strategies and collaborations underway around the state to address issues related to the pandemic.
Anti-Racism Resources: What Our Community of Philanthropy is Reading and Sharing for Collective Knowledge Building
This week we are providing a roundup of resources directly sourced from CMF members to help each of us deepen our knowledge around institutional racism and how we can take action as individuals. Below is a snapshot of resources shared by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation; Rotary Charities of Traverse City; Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Michigan sites; Michigan Women Forward and several other individual CMF members. If you have additional resources to lift up to our community of philanthropy, please share by tagging us on social media: @michfoundations.
Participate in anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings in Northern Michigan this summer, offered by Title Track and We the People Michigan.
We encourage you to check out this extensive list of curated resources from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.