How the Refugee Cap Affects MI
The U.S. has resettled 34,000 refugees so far this year and only 16,000 more can be admitted between now and September 30, under the refugee cap put in place by President Donald Trump’s recent executive order.
While the executive order pausing admissions of refugees from seven-Muslim majority countries to the U.S. was blocked by the courts, reducing the cap on refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000 has not been addressed by the courts.
Michigan is one of the top five states in the nation for refugee resettlement, welcoming more than 8,000 refugees since the beginning of 2015.
However, under the current refugee cap, Michigan is expected to see fewer incoming refugees through September 30.
A recent Crain’s Detroit Business article highlighted refugee and immigrant contributions noting, “Locally, the resettlement of refugees and other immigrants is an important stopgap in our aging workforce — with as many as 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day.”
Michigan farmers and growers recently shared how vital our robust refugee and immigrant communities are to several major industries in our state, including agriculture.
The refugee cap poses issues for nonprofit organizations and agencies in Michigan and across the U.S. that welcome incoming refugees and help them transition to their new community.
As Crain’s Detroit Business reports, four resettlement organizations in Detroit, could “see an estimated loss of three-quarters or more of the approximately $4 million in total federal dollars they would have received before the new limits were put in place.”
According to Crain’s, the Detroit-area organizations affected are Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, Samaritas, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Detroit and Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County.
The new refugee cap is being felt around the country, World Relief, which is one of nine U.S. refugee resettlement agencies that works with the United Nations’ refugee program, recently announced it’s laying off 140 people and closing five locations due to the reduced number of incoming refugees.
There are concerns from resettlement groups across the country that these programs and services have taken decades to develop and if they are forced to cut services and staff they may not be able to adequately meet the needs of refugees in the future.
Beyond the refugee cap, Michigan Radio recently reported that Detroit Freedom House, which offers transitional housing and services for asylum seekers and refugees in need, may be forced to close after it recently lost its federal funding due to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denying their grant request.
It’s unclear whether the financial pressure on these organizations that provide critical services to incoming refugees is temporary or if it will become permanent.
As CMF reported earlier this month, experts on a recent policy call with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) recommended action steps funders can take which included supporting organizations that welcome incoming refugees and immigrants. Here’s a list of organizations throughout the state that provide refugee resettlement services.
GCIR will join CMF this Thursday, March 2 in Detroit for a comprehensive briefing on immigrant and refugee issues.
Check out GCIR’s resources.
Registration ends today for Beyond the Headlines: Why Understanding Immigration is Essential to Effective Grantmaking
See the Joint Foundation Statement on Immigration, that more than 170 philanthropic organizations (including CMF members) have signed.
Read Crain’s Detroit Business article.
Philanthropy’s Role in Census 2020
Census data gives the government a snapshot of who’s in a community and how many people live there, which helps determine how $400 billion in federal funding will be spent on critical federal programs, such as food assistance, housing vouchers, Head Start, healthcare and much more.
An accurate and equitable census count is critical to ensure our most vulnerable communities are counted, to give the government and funders information to help best serve communities in need.
Unfortunately, some of our most vulnerable communities are the most likely to be overlooked in the census count, that includes people of color, low-income families, renters, people in rural areas and children under the age of 5.
About one million young children were not counted in the 2010 census, making them the largest undercounted age group in the last census. This census data directly guides federal funding for school districts and programs such as Head Start, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children and free or reduced school breakfast and lunch programs.
Census data is also used to:
- Collect accurate, comprehensive race and ethnicity data that aides in implementing, monitoring and evaluating civil rights laws and policies from voting reforms to access to housing, education, healthcare and employment. It helps to identify disparities and help guide solutions for the needs of a diverse population.
- Guide business decisions, such as optimal store and factory locations, or whether there are enough people to serve and/or hire in a given area.
- Guide community planning such as identifying where to build new schools and roads, provide services for the elderly and locate job training centers.
- Determine how our state is represented, as the number of people in congressional districts determine how many seats our state has in the U.S. Congress.
How census data affects philanthropy:
- Undercounted communities mean less federal funding, leaving funders and nonprofits to fill the gaps.
- The data helps funders make decisions about how and where to invest resources.
- Funders can use the count to help gather data for evaluations.
- The census data gives funders a window into areas that may benefit from public-private investments.
The census is three years away but decisions are being made at the federal level now that could affect the quality and accuracy of the census.
- Spending to fund the count: While our population has grown since 2010, the Census Bureau can’t spend more to gather data than it did in 2010.
- Adding an immigration status question to the form: A draft executive order is in the works that would lead to the Census Bureau asking questions about people’s immigration status. Adding this question to the form could lead to a reduced response and inaccurate count, as there are concerns that people would be fearful or hesitant to respond due to the current immigration controversy in the U.S.
How funders can get involved
Over the course of the next two years, philanthropy can support actions and educational activities that ensure as many people as possible are counted in Census 2020.
A round-up report of philanthropic support for outreach for the 2010 Census provides some examples of how funders can get involved. Highlights from two CMF members include:
- Ford Foundation awarded several grants to organizations to gather people and share information about the census, including the Arab American Institute Foundation, African Federation, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Citizen Engagement Laboratory and more.
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a grant to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, working with the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
CMF is part of the Forum’s Census 2020 Project, through a grant from the Joyce Foundation, the project is aimed to educate philanthropy about the census, increase funding support for the census and mobilize funders to advocate for policy improvements for the census. CMF is also collaborating with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), which led the complete count efforts in 2010. CMF will continue to work with this network to keep you updated on census developments, educational events and opportunities.
Sign up for today’s webinar: Making Philanthropy Count
View the Forum’s Census 2020 Project’s resources
Connect with the Funders Committee for Civic Participation
Check out the full list of philanthropic support from 2010 Census outreach
Connecting Rural Communities
More than 67 percent of Michigan is considered rural or mostly rural, as 56 of our counties fall into one of those categories. They serve as the backbone to our state’s booming agriculture industry and many host Michigan’s tourists, but there’s still work to do to connect our rural communities with growing opportunities.
Last week the Huron Daily Tribune reported that “a gap in rural broadband (high-speed internet) services is costing the Upper Thumb healthcare access, jobs and educational opportunities.”
Broadband access is viewed both as an economic development tool and as an equitable solution to breaking down barriers to students doing their homework, providing seniors with access to telehealth services and resources, supporting home businesses, telecommuting and connecting people with important services.
The most recent data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a 2016 report, shows 33 million Americans lack fixed (not mobile) broadband access, with 23 million of them living in rural areas.
The FCC shared a new access map this month, allowing users to search their state and county and see areas that lack coverage. For example, in Kalkaska County, the data shows 73 percent of the rural population lacks access to a high-speed fixed internet connection.
Connect Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes broadband expansion across the state and works in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission, shows that while access has been improving, some rural areas remain limited in broadband access.
Tom Stephenson, a community technology advisor with Connect Michigan, said in a recent interview with Interlochen Public Radio that access in Northern Michigan is a “huge issue.” Stephenson shared some of the barriers at play.
Barriers to broadband access in rural areas include:
- Our infrastructure can’t keep up with the demand, as demand for high-speed internet is increasing by 9-12 percent every month
- Michigan currently receives $30 million in funding a year from the Connect America Fund but it’s not enough to meet the demand
- There’s no return on investment for a company to build out broadband infrastructure in a sparsely populated area
- The technology adoption rate is low in rural areas
Stephenson said there’s not enough funding to do a full build-out of our infrastructure.
“We’re looking to do a lot of public-private partnerships to leverage what we do have and to expand that build out,” Stephenson said.
Connect Michigan has certified several counties as “connected communities,” and provided them with technology action plans to provide guidance for connecting their rural areas.
Recently, Kent County was awarded with the certification and given an action plan recommending the county continue to hold meetings to address current and future broadband needs, connect with providers on availability and speed issues and pursue federal and state assistance in broadband expansion.
As CMF reported in December, the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s report showed a need for cross-sector interventions to ensure broadband access for all Michiganders. The recommendations also provide a window into how funders can intervene in this area.
- Nonprofit, public and private sectors partner to address mobile and broadband access and adoption through technical assistance and digital literacy education.
- Develop a public awareness campaign about safe cyber practices, and embrace new technologies.
This month we’ve seen some of our Michigan lawmakers address this issue by petitioning the FCC to expand broadband access in rural areas through a universal service fund. A new bill has been introduced in Lansing that would allow townships to use special assessments to fund broadband projects in rural areas.
CMF just wrapped up its recent workshops on the road with rural-serving foundations. Last week at the workshop in Hastings, members discussed the issues surrounding broadband access in rural areas. The group agreed there’s a need for further research to determine action steps for rural-serving foundations. CMF will keep you updated on further recommendations.
The Hurst Foundation awards grant to launch bike-sharing program in Jackson
Content excerpted from MLive. Read the full article.
A new bike-sharing program is launching this spring in Jackson, allowing people to rent a bike and explore the local trails.
It’s part of BCycle, a bike share system, that’s currently in more than 40 communities across the U.S.
The Hurst Foundation awarded a grant to launch the program in Jackson, making it the third Michigan city to join BCycle.
Riders can use an app to check out a bike or pay through a kiosk at the bike lot.
The Jackson County parks manager said the program could expand in the future to other locations in Jackson, potentially near downtown.