The Download

The Download

April 11, 2022

Monday, April 11, 2022

Deepening Partnerships with Federal Policymakers

Members of our CMF community engaged with policymakers last week during the virtual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2022, presented by United Philanthropy Forum and in partnership with the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector.

During this year’s event, our Michigan Congressional members were represented in the opening and closing keynotes. 

To kickoff FOTH, Kyle Caldwell, CMF president and CEO welcomed Congresswoman Debbie Dingell as the featured keynote speaker. 

Dingell shared her experiences partnering with philanthropy during the pandemic and the value of these partnerships moving forward. 

“Congress has a role in our recovery, we would not have made it this far in our recovery if it was not for the philanthropic work. We have to continue to work together to do the work that is going to be needed to get COVID-19 behind us and you know what, it isn't behind us, we're going to see another surge,” Dingell said. 

Dingell underscored the importance of philanthropy’s voice on key policy issues.

“When we give the charitable sector a voice in shaping public policy, all communities benefit. That is why I am very committed to bettering the relationship between the federal government and nonprofits and making sure that everyone’s got a seat at the table. We need your expertise on policy matters, and we want to work with you,” Dingell said. 

Dingell also shared her support of Congressman Fred Upton who announced his retirement during FOTH.

Congressman Upton served over 30 years as a member of the Michigan delegation and serves as vice-chair of the bipartisan group Problem Solvers Caucus. He has deep roots in Michigan philanthropy, his father served on CMF’s Board of Trustees for several years and his grandfather co-founded the Whirpool Corporation and founded the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, a CMF member.

Congressman Upton has engaged with our Michigan community of philanthropy over the years during FOTH to deepen relationships and better understand how policy and the nonprofit sector can work together.

“Congressman Upton – he would insist on calling him, Fred – is a stalwart champion for the sector. For his nearly four decades of public service, he has sought out bipartisan solutions, advanced collaboration as a virtue to achieve equitable solutions for his district and all our communities. Fred comes to this practical problem solving naturally. From his father’s service as a trustee of CMF to the Congressman’s own engagement with CMF and our members, he has always worked to find ways to address important issues and seen philanthropy as a valued partner. Our community of philanthropy is truly grateful for his dedicated service to Michigan,” Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF said. 

During the closing session of this year’s FOTH, Caldwell joined Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector in conversation with Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Congressman Upton’s legislative assistant, Alec Zender, to discuss the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act.

The forthcoming legislation, which is expected to be introduced by Upton and McCollum soon, is designed to create mechanisms that leverage the mission, knowledge and impact of nonprofits to help government and the philanthropic sector work together more effectively in pursuit of shared goals. 

The legislation would establish several structures for engaging nonprofits with the federal government. Specifically, the legislation would create a White House Office of Nonprofit Sector Partnership, an interagency council to promote government/nonprofit partnerships and an advisory board made up of nonprofit leaders.

CMF will share more details on the legislation as soon as it is officially introduced for consideration.

Beyond the programming featuring Michigan policymakers and philanthropy, CMF members engaged in a series of 15 individual virtual meetings with policymakers. 

In the conversations, CMF members lifted up powerful stories of philanthropy’s work in their communities to attract and retain talent and create a culture of giving, lifted up the needs in our communities across key policy focus areas and highlighted philanthropy as a resource for expertise and a bridge-builder within communities and with other partners. 

“To meet with lawmakers on the same day as the historic confirmation vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson underscored for me the need for FOTH. It's imperative that we share our stories of impactful philanthropy with lawmakers and identify critical areas of public/private partnership that will improve the lived experience and trajectory of the communities that we serve,” Shannon Polk, president and CEO of Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation said. 

The meetings also served as an opportunity to hear about the legislators’ current priorities and how philanthropy can work in partnership for thriving, equitable communities across Michigan. 

While CMF members still have a remaining FOTH meeting planned for later this month with Senator Gary Peters, we look forward to lifting up the power of partnerships beyond FOTH as CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team continues to organize and facilitate opportunities for our CMF community to engage with policymakers year-round.

Want more? 

For those interested in connecting with policymakers beyond Foundations on the Hill or exploring way to engage in advocacy, connect with Regina Bell, CMF’s director of government relations and public policy.

CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team recently hosted a virtual conversation around advocacy and how to effectively engage with policymakers. Watch the recording. 

Hear from CMF members about why they engage in Foundations on the Hill. 





    ALICE in Focus: Children

Nearly 1 million children in Michigan lived in a household income below the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) threshold in 2019. 

New research released by the Michigan Association of United Ways, ALICE in Focus: Children, explores the data about the realities of living in financial hardship.

ALICE families earn above the federal poverty level and therefore do not qualify for assistance programs, but earn too little to afford the basics. 

Children below the ALICE threshold are those under the age of 18 living in households with income below the basic cost of living for their communities. The ALICE threshold is the average income that a household needs to afford housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and a smartphone plan plus taxes. 

According to the research, the number of children growing up in financial hardship in Michigan has been systematically undercounted due to the outdated Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For example, according to the FPL, 17% of children in Michigan lived in poverty in 2019 but United For ALICE data shows that another 27% grew up in households that earned above the FPL but not enough to afford the basics in the communities where they lived.

The new research explores the demographics of children below the ALICE threshold, their living arrangements, household work status, education, health insurance and more.

Key findings from the report:

•    44% of children in Michigan lived in households with income below the ALICE threshold.

•    71% of Black children, 58% of Hispanic children, 36% of White children and 30% of Asian children in Michigan lived in households below the ALICE threshold in 2019.

•    Although the total population of American Indian/Alaska Native children in Michigan is smaller than other racial/ethnic groups, 57% lived below the ALICE threshold. 

•    23% of Michigan children in households with two adults in the labor force were below the ALICE threshold in 2019.

•    62% of children with a disability were more likely to live in households below the ALICE threshold than those without a disability (43%).

•    The largest number of children below the ALICE threshold were in married-couple households followed by single female-headed households. 

•    49% of children below the ALICE threshold in Michigan in 2019 were in families who rented and 51% were in families who owned their homes.

o    52% of children in renter households below the ALICE threshold were “rent-burdened” which is defined as spending more than 30% of a household’s income for housing. 

•    37% of preschool-age children below the ALICE threshold in Michigan were enrolled in preschool in 2019, compared to 58% of their peers above the threshold.

•    More than 550,000 children below the ALICE threshold in Michigan did not participate in SNAP and nearly 300,000 had no high-speed internet access at home in 2019.

•    97% of children in Michigan had health insurance in 2019 while 4% of children in families with income below the ALICE threshold did not have coverage.

•    43% of children in Black households below the ALICE threshold did not have high-speed internet access, compared to 29% of children in Hispanic and 28% of children in White households below the ALICE threshold.

The report also provides a snapshot of how children below the ALICE threshold fared amid the pandemic. These households faced financial uncertainties, food insecurity, interrupted learning and many did not receive the Child Tax Credit to support childcare costs. 

Key data points amid the pandemic:

•    Housing: More than one-third of families below the ALICE threshold with children were slightly confident, not at all confident or had deferred their housing payment. 

•    Food Security: In fall 2021, 41% of Michigan families below the ALICE threshold with children reported that sometimes or often “children were not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food.”

•    Healthcare: In fall 2021, 42% of Michigan households below the ALICE threshold with children had to miss, delay or skip their child’s preventive check-up in the last 12 months, compared to 22% of those above the ALICE threshold.

•    Tax Credit: More than 40% of Michigan households below the ALICE threshold with children were still not receiving the advance Child Tax Credit in the fall of 2021, for numerous reasons such as a parent not having filed a recent tax return or a child not having a Social Security number.

United for ALICE created the ALICE Children Data Dashboard which provides data on children living in financial hardship by geographic region, demographic categories, household characteristics and access to key resources.

Want more?

Read the full ALICE in Focus report. 

Explore the ALICE Children Data Dashboard.






Member Spotlights


The Capital Region Community Foundation Announces New President and CEO

Content excerpted and adapted from a Capital Region Community Foundation press release. 

The Capital Region Community Foundation has announced Laurie Strauss Baumer as its new president and CEO as of June 1. Baumer has served as executive vice president since 2015 and succeeds Dennis Fliehman, who is retiring after almost 20 years of service.

During her tenure, Baumer has served as chief of staff and operations, worked closely with philanthropists and nonprofits, and led strategic projects such as developing downtown Lansing’s riverfront. 

She was responsible for the creation of Rotary Park and the upcoming Play Michigan, a universally-accessible playground for children of all abilities. 

“I am honored by the Board of Trustees’ confidence in my ability to lead the community foundation and take it to the next level,” Baumer said. “Dennis Fliehman grew the foundation’s assets from $32 million to almost $150 million during his tenure. We’re now a driving force that will allow us to lead boldly throughout the region in the coming years.”

For 30 years, Baumer has been dedicated to improving communities through her nonprofit leadership roles. Prior to the community foundation, she served 16 years as president and CEO of Ele’s Place, a center for grieving children headquartered in Lansing. Baumer successfully replicated the organization in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Flint. Previously, she held leadership positions at the Capital Area Humane Society and Celebrate the Children, a W.K. Kellogg Foundation program. 



The Kresge Foundation Supports Student-Centered Civic Engagement

The Kresge Foundation’s education program recently announced several grants totaling $1,025,000 to student-centered civic engagement initiatives.

The grants will fund initiatives prioritizing low-income and students of color, especially those attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and community colleges.

According to Kresge, the grant commitments affirm the program’s dedication to elevating the voice and priorities of college students and advocates across the country working to organize, educate and develop civic engagement and voting resources for students, staff and faculty.

“Each of these organizations contribute to an important dimension of advocacy, policy, research and outreach in a time where we are seeing deliberate and systemic attacks on voting rights,” Joselin Cisneros, an education fellow at Kresge and organizer of the grants said. “These barriers make it difficult for students to vote during both presidential and local elections, rolling back the progress many civic rights leaders and organizations have achieved with increased registration and voting by students.”

The grants are being funded through a cross-foundation effort led by Kresge’s Education Program, in partnership with Kresge’s Arts and Culture and Detroit Programs.

Want more?

Read the full press release. 

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