The Download

The Download

June 7, 2021

Monday, June 7, 2021

State Works to Bridge the Digital Divide 

The digital divide has been an ongoing equity issue that exacerbates disparities in educational achievement, health, civic participation and economic mobility. 

In October 2020, Public Policy Associates of Michigan found that 25% of school-age children in Michigan do not have proper digital tools at home. 

In an effort to help bridge the digital divide, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order establishing the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) to make high-speed internet more affordable and accessible.

According to a press release, the new office will be dedicated to coordinating and advancing the state's efforts to ensure that every home and business has access to an affordable, reliable high-speed connection. 

The state shared that an estimated 865,000 households are disconnected due to the cost of subscribing to services or purchasing an appropriate device, a lack of digital skills or other related barriers.   

"COVID-19 has only confirmed how the lack of high-speed internet access can cause too many Michiganders to struggle in their ability to engage in online learning, to use telemedicine to seek needed healthcare, to search for a new job or to take advantage of all the online resources," Whitmer said. "A fully connected Michigan is essential for our state to reach its economic potential in the 21st century global economy."  

Michigan philanthropy has been working to help bridge the digital divide, especially throughout the pandemic.

As CMF reported, The Skillman Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are part of the Connected Futures partnership, a cross-sector collaborative that collectively raised $23 million to provide Detroit Public Schools Community District students with tablets and internet access so they could engage in remote learning.

Additionally, CMF members DTE Energy Foundation, The Skillman Foundation and Quicken Loans Community Fund joined other funders to form the Tech Fund for Detroit Students to bridge the digital divide for charter school and high-need private school students in the city.

In the early days of the pandemic, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund partnered with the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation, the Metro Health Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to accelerate telehealth in Michigan. The grants awarded nearly $3 million to 61 Michigan organizations ramping up their remote care efforts. The partnership and grants were expedited in response to public health risks of in-person care due to COVID-19.

Increasing access to broadband has been an integral part of CMF’s advocacy efforts throughout the pandemic.

CMF’s Government Relations and Public Policy (GRPP) team have sent dozens of letters to policymakers are the state and federal levels advocating for increased access to broadband since the pandemic unfolded and many functions of our society went virtual.

CMF has raised concerns around reliable internet access as a necessity for learning as well as the critical nature of utilizing the internet to connect with nonprofits to access services providing food, rental assistance, job training and social and emotional supports. 

In late 2020, CMF sent a letter to Congress to invest a minimum of $15 billion in emergency funds to support broadband internet access. The federal COVID relief package that passed in December 2020 provided a total of $7 billion for broadband activities.

CMF’s advocacy efforts around this issue have continued, especially during our engagement with policymakers as part of this year’s virtual Foundations on the Hill. As discussions at both the state and federal level about reinvesting in our communities continue, CMF will advocate for broadband access as part of that investment and look for ways for our CMF community to engage as leaders and thought partners.

Want more?

Read the full press release. 

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.



Report Explores Media Coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) released a report, Invisible Ink: Media Representation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, exploring news media coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). 

AAPIP is a national membership organization dedicated to expanding and mobilizing philanthropic and community resources for underserved AAPI communities.

The report shares that the escalation of anti-Asian violence prompted this research and analysis into print media’s pre-pandemic coverage of AAPI communities. 

The report offers a pre-pandemic snapshot of AAPI representation in news articles from 2019 across seven major publications. It explores several key areas, including the portrayal of AAPI individuals and communities in the media, the narratives emerging from the media and more.

Key takeaways from the report:

•    Less than a third of news articles mention Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

•    Less than 4% of article focus on AAPI communities.

•    2% of articles feature disparities in AAPI communities.

•    AAPI communities are included in the data in these articles only 28% of the time. 

•    The articles omitted AAPI data 37% of the time, even when the data existed.

•    The articles reviewed focus on “education or affirmative action that repeat overall monolithic themes of educational achievement and success without highlighting educational differences among Asian American communities.”

•    Articles on local political figures and entertainment also highlight achievement and success. 

•    Few words in the articles related to social justice, crime or economic inequality.

•    Very few articles focused on Pacific Islanders in 2019. The study had to include five years of articles in order to have a large enough sample size. Those articles did not center on the lived experiences of real Pacific Islander people and did little to educate the public about Pacific Islanders.

•    The research revealed reoccurring usage of the “model minority” which is described by AAPIP as "the false notion that all Asian Americans in this country are largely well off." The research shares that the lowest-earning Asian Americans have only seen their income increase 11%, whereas the lowest-earning Americans on average have seen their income increase 36%.

The research also examined press coverage of AAPI communities within philanthropy news publications, particularly around the issue area of economic inequality. 

Key findings:

•    During the 2019 calendar year, a total of 29 articles were identified in The Chronicle of Philanthropy related to economic inequality and mentioning at least one race. AAPI communities were mentioned in 6 out of the 29. 

•    Approximately 13.8% of the articles focused on AAPI communities.

•    13.3% featured data on AAPI communities.

The report highlights the role of philanthropy to further the goals of equity and inclusion within journalism.

“Funders have a prime opportunity to invest in, leverage and reform journalism as a core strategy to advancing racial equity, inclusive of AAPIs and Native Americans,” the report states.

Recommendations for philanthropy to support inclusivity in journalism:

1.    Support journalism and media research projects that accurately portray the lived experience and diversity of AAPI communities.

2.    Fund best practice AAPI data collection efforts.

3.    Hold media and journalism partners and projects you fund to standards of diversity, equity and inclusion.

4.    Fund fellowships and staff positions in newsrooms for Asian American journalists and Pacific Islander journalists.

5.    Fund AAPI-led media organizations that offer authentic reach and insight into the multiplicity of AAPI communities.

6.    Circulate press releases of foundation announcements to AAPI and all people of color media organizations.

7.    Fund racial and gender equity awareness and bias training for journalists inclusive of AAPI and Native American perspectives.

8.    Connect journalists with AAPI community members and nonprofits for authentic coverage.

There have been increased calls to better support Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, which according to AAPIP have been underfunded and under-resourced.  

The Asian American Foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation recently called on foundations, corporations and individuals to join the AAPI Giving Challenge to support AAPI communities and causes. The giving challenge has generated over $1 billion for AAPI communities. 

Want more?

Read the full report. 

Connect with AAPIP.

Learn more about the AAPI Giving Challenge.



Supporting Outdoor Engagement Through Placemaking 

Now that it is officially summer in Michigan and all COVID-19 outdoor restrictions have been lifted, more Michiganders will likely be enjoying outdoor spaces. 

Several CMF members are supporting outdoor engagement by enhancing and increasing access to outdoor spaces for their communities to enjoy. 

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County recently announced three grants in Marine City to support the development of a new marina project, the planning and engineering for the city’s initial work on the Bridge to Bay Trail and efforts to continue restoration work throughout the city. 

These efforts emerged through a collaboration with the Blue Meets Green Coalition, its mission is to develop the St. Clair region into a prosperous, sustainable economic environment. 

The marina project is the current priority for Blue Meets Green, which will be the first new marina added to the region in several years. 

In Port Huron, a tunnel at the Blue Water River Walk is getting a facelift with the goal of making the area more appealing to those who spend time there. 

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) is helping to fund the renovation project which will include removing graffiti, installing new lighting and cameras and adding more landscaping. 

CFSEM is helping to fund another project that provides maintenance support to already developed trails and greenways. 

In partnership with Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, CFSEM announced grants to six recipients through the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Trails Maintenance Fund.

“As an endowed fund, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Trails Maintenance Fund at the community foundation ensures that local trails and other public spaces are maintained both now and for years to come,”  Mariam Noland, president, CFSEM said in a press release.

Recently, Paddle Antrim, a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect water resources in Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes by using paddle sports to connect people to the waterways, completed the final elements of the over 100 mile trail.

“This project is a culmination of a region coming together to inspire people to be active and safe on the water, educate individuals on how to be good stewards of our water resources and provide avenues for economic development,” Deana Jerdee, executive director of Paddle Antrim said in an article. 

CMF members Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Consumers Energy Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, Frey Foundation, Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation and Charlevoix County Community Foundation have all funded this project. 

Want more? 

Connect with CMF’s Green & Blue Network. 



Michigan Justice Fund Announces Support for Reform Projects

Content excerpted and adapted from a press release. 

The Michigan Justice Fund ─ an initiative designed to address inequities in the criminal justice system throughout the state and supported by nearly a dozen CMF members ─ has announced over $2 million in support to 12 organizations through the Michigan.

The Michigan Justice Fund was established in early 2020 to assist groups working to advance effective and equitable justice policy. It has since grown to a funder collaborative of 14 foundations. 

CMF members engaged in the collaborative include Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, DTE Energy Foundation, Ethel & James Flinn Foundation, Ford Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

As an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Justice Fund primarily seeks to help stem the flow of individuals into the criminal justice system, support the investment of public dollars to community-driven alternatives to incarceration and ensures that those returning home after incarceration receive the support they need to flourish.

“Practitioners and advocates, those closest to the work of justice reform, have helped the Michigan Justice Fund to build a strategy for enacting smart and racially equitable justice policies that keep our communities safe and reduce barriers to opportunity,” Melanca Clark, president and CEO, Hudson-Webber Foundation, chair of the Michigan Justice Fund Steering Committee and CMF trustee said. “We are thrilled to deploy a round of investments to support organizations and projects that will move our state forward.”

“The community foundation is committed to improving racial equity and reducing Michigan’s reliance on detention and incarceration through an evidence-based and data-driven approach,” Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan said. “With this initiative, we are supporting economic prosperity strategies by partnering with foundations and organizations that are committed to strengthening the justice policy reform ecosystem in our state.”

A group of 26 organizations across the state helped to develop the grantmaking strategy. These organizations were selected to be representative of a diverse cross-section of nonprofits from across Michigan that directly serve justice-impacted individuals.

As the Michigan Justice Fund looks forward, the collaborative shares it will continue to strengthen the capacity of those working for justice reform, shift the narrative on incarceration and build a network of engaged and informed funders.

Want more?

Read the full press release.

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