Focus on Flint
President Obama will make a stop in Flint this week. The president will tour the city on Wednesday, marking his first visit since the city’s water crisis began. Media outlets are reporting Obama’s visit comes after a young girl from Flint sent the president a letter, requesting to meet with him personally.
The focus on helping Flint children continues as the first grants have been awarded to help remediate the water crisis, through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. A total of $523,664 in grants were awarded to Edible Flint, Fair Food Network, Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD) and Hurley Foundation to help the people of Flint.
Of the grant recipients, the Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program received a $200,000 grant through the Healthy Food and Safe Water Fund to provide greater access to fruits and vegetables for Flint families.
Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks gives families who use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) double the purchasing power for fruits and vegetables. The Centers for Disease Control recommends parents feed their children healthy foods rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C to mitigate the effects of lead poisoning. Access and affordability to fresh food can be a challenge in a city where 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Double Up Food Bucks' expansion will give more Flint families better access to fresh food at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. The program, formed with the help of the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL), has grown to more than 150 sites across Michigan since it began in Detroit in 2009.
Meanwhile, the final round of planned Sentinel Site test results show the city of Flint is not yet in compliance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule. Governor Rick Snyder’s office cites “continued caution is needed as the city is not yet in compliance.” The water testing reveals small pieces of lead are present in some residential plumbing systems, leading to a jump in lead levels in testing. Officials are urging residents to flush pipes at no cost.
Two state officials and one city official face a total of 13 felony charges and five misdemeanor charges linked to their roles in the Flint water crisis. Attorney General Bill Schuette said the investigation is ongoing.
Learn more about the OFL and its role in identifying innovative funding partnerships and strategic collaborations between the State and grantmakers.
Finalized Guidelines for PRIs
The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS released the finalized guidelines for program-related investments (PRIs) for private foundations.
The guidelines provide much-needed clarity and examples in what has been a confusing area of interest for foundations.
The Obama administration said the guidelines should remove fears of foundations facing a tax penalty. The White House said the regulations are intended to make it easier for private foundations to make PRIs to achieve their charitable goals. The guidelines show a wide array of investments can qualify as PRIs for private foundations.
Noteworthy clarity includes:
- Expanded original focus of guidance to include a broad spectrum of charitable efforts beyond community economic developments
- Clarity that PRI recipients may include for-profit companies and individuals
- Further examples of the many forms of investing PRIs may take
The guidelines added nine new examples demonstrating what qualifies as a PRI.
One example in the guidelines highlights a private foundation’s investment in a subsidiary of a drug company for the development of a vaccine. The vaccine would be targeted to prevent a specific disease that predominantly affects those living in poverty in developing countries. The subsidiary would be required, under the investment agreement, to distribute the vaccine to impoverished people in developing countries at an affordable price. However, the updated guidelines show the subsidiary may also sell the vaccine to those who can afford it at fair market value.
The new examples are intended to offer clarity on the full range of investments that may carry out charitable work as PRIs.
In 2013 the Council of Michigan Foundations met with Ruth Madrigal, legal counsel for the Office of Tax Policy of the U.S. Treasury Department, to discuss the recommendations of simplifying the PRI process. Madrigal recently noted the efforts of foundation leaders and organizations, in partnership with the IRS, as a driving force behind the efforts to update the guidelines.
Want more? We recommend this blog post by Mission Investors Exchange CEO Matt Onek.
D5 Coalition shares final State of the Work series
D5 began in 2010 as a five-year focus of advancing philanthropy in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The final State of the Work series has been released, shedding light on areas of progress in the last five years and continuing challenges.
The 40-page report details areas that still need attention and shares success stories of foundations that have made significant gains in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. D5’s State of the Work illustrates diversity within foundations and in leadership positions continues to be a challenge. According to the data available in foundation staff diversity, “movement toward a more representative field has been mixed.”
The State of the Work demonstrates how nonprofits could take a closer look at what for-profits are doing in regards to diversity data transparency. Reports show companies in the business sector committed to diversity are generally more successful. As for how philanthropy is doing in the area of diversity, more data collection needs to be done. While D5 has seen an increase in reporting on diversity, the gaps in data are large presenting many limitations to our knowledge.
Highlights of the research include:
- Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians
- Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards had higher performing sales and greater return on their invested capital
- Nearly 2/3 of voters favor a federal law that protects LGBTQ people from employment discrimination
DTE Energy Foundation donates $600,000 to support animal cruelty investigations and emergency rescue programs
The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) received a gift of $600,000 from the DTE Energy Foundation to support animal cruelty investigations and emergency rescue programs. The donation will aid in training law enforcement and support public safety programming.
“Neighborhoods are the lifeblood of our communities,” Faye Nelson, vice president of DTE Energy and president of the DTE Energy Foundation said. “By partnering with MHS, the DTE Energy Foundation is helping improve the quality of life for residents and enhancing the conditions of the neighborhoods in which we live and serve.”
The DTE Energy Foundation’s gift supports training that gives officers and animal control personnel tools to help abused animals and address violence in the community. The MHS Cruelty and Rescue Department responds to approximately 10,000 calls for service every year in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
In addition to the grant, DTE Energy offered consultation to the MHS on energy efficiency for their new state-of-the-art facility in Detroit. The MHS Dresner Foundation Animal Care Campus will house the organization’s animal cruelty investigation and rescue department. The new facility is named in honor of the Dresner Foundation after a $3.5 million gift.