Reflections on the Governor’s Annual Conference Remarks and the State Budget
The CMF 47th Annual Conference main stage event on October 7 featured Governor Gretchen Whitmer, continuing CMF’s long-standing tradition of welcoming our new Michigan governors to the conference. After helping to recognize William S. White with a special tribute, Governor Whitmer’s keynote address highlighted the importance of giving back and the value of partnership and collaboration, while also joining in our conference-wide conversation around equity in Michigan communities. The Governor focused in particular on the needs of Michigan children.
“We adults need to stay focused on the things that matter to kids’ lives,” she said. “The foundation community knows this better than any. The foundation community continues to lead in this space.”
Following her remarks, the Governor was joined on stage for a panel discussion with two emerging leaders, Jake Hendricks and Angelo Hernandez-Sias, both former Youth Advisory Committee members and now college students. Their dialogue centered on civic engagement, higher education and related issues connected to equity, including college affordability and filling the skills gap.
Governor Whitmer said that the budget she introduced in March included a 3% increase for community colleges and higher education, and a number of line items relevant for graduating high schoolers. “One of the things I had tried to ensure was that we made a priority of higher education - community colleges, as well. We need to change the culture to embrace all paths that lead to a certificate, skill or stacking credentials.”
Citing the need to address infrastructure challenges, however, the Governor said, “Unfortunately at the end of the budget process, it was much smaller than what I had hoped to accomplish.” Later in her remarks, Governor Whitmer said of priorities such as tripling literacy coaching and ensuring the continuation of vocational villages, “When we don’t have an infrastructure solution, all of these other things in the general fund are in jeopardy, and that’s precisely what this budget reflects.”
The Governor remarked that it’s “difficult in this environment to deliver on all these fronts, and it’s unfortunate, because none of these are partisan issues, or should be.”
Her remarks at the Annual Conference came just one week after signing the state budget.
State Budget Update
Governor Whitmer’s 147 line-item vetoes totaled a historic $947 million out of the $59.9 billion budget, according to the Associated Press. The Governor also declared 72 budget provisions constitutionally unenforceable, while the Administrative Board approved 13 transfers within department budgets totaling $625 million.
Bridge Magazine reports that on October 8, Michigan Republican lawmakers introduced more than 20 supplemental spending proposals to reverse line-item budget vetoes and set the stage for potential votes on veto overrides. On October 10, the Governor and Republican leaders reportedly engaged in a private sit-down and have indicated an intention to meet again this week. Also on Thursday, the Governor introduced supplemental spending bills to reappropriate approximately $475 million that she had vetoed from the budget. Included in that supplemental: $110 million for Governor Whitmer’s proposed Michigan Reconnect program, which would provide scholarships for adults to pursue secondary education or skilled trades training.
CMF continues to actively monitor the budget process and analyze budget changes on issues of high importance to Michigan philanthropy, including education, healthcare, safety net programs and child development and care (CDC) provider reimbursement rates, among other issues.
Beyond the budget dollars themselves, we have also been tracking changes in language proposed as part of the budget process. Some examples:
New language that would direct the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to work with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to notify eligible recipients of food assistance program benefits related to the Double Up Food Bucks program, which provides dollar-to-dollar matches on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars to give recipients better access to healthy, fresh produce.
New language that would have disqualified counties from receiving reimbursement under the County Jail Reimbursement Program if they enact or enforce any law, ordinance, policy or rule that limits or prohibits a peace officer or local official, officer or employee from communicating or cooperating with appropriate federal officials concerning the immigration status of an individual in the state. The Governor vetoed this language.
A new section that would require the Michigan Department of Corrections to allow a female prisoner to have one visitor present during labor and delivery under specific conditions.
New sections that would require the department to submit quarterly reports on all expenditures associated with establishing the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and its role as secretary of the Commission as required by the Constitutional amendment approved under Ballot Proposal 2 (2018) and implementing same-day registration and no-reason absentee voting as required by the Constitutional amendment approved under Ballot Proposal 3 (2018).
The Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) is hosting, “Rethinking Michigan’s Safety Net” on November 18 at the Lansing Community College West Campus. The event, being held 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., will feature leading national experts discussing three critical safety net programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Childcare and Develop Fund (CCDF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This one-day convening is designed to level-up participants in their understanding of safety net programs and provide inspiration from examples of effective uses of these programs to support economic mobility. This event is for philanthropy and state government to begin identifying their roles in using Michigan’s safety net to create true economic mobility. Registration is open now on the CMF website.
Friday Court Decisions Halt Changes in Public Charge Rule that Were to Take Effect this Week
The federal government’s changes to the public charge regulation, which affect some immigrants’ pathways to citizenship, were slated to go into effect tomorrow, October 15, 2019.
However, according to news reports on Friday, a ruling in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan resulted in a preliminary nationwide injunction prohibiting the administration from enforcing the rule, a federal judge in Washington state blocked the regulation nationwide and a third district court judge in San Francisco said the administration could not enforce the rule within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Since 1999, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has followed the guidelines that if an applicant for a green card or VISA has the likelihood of “becoming primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” for welfare, Supplementary Security Income (SSI) or assistance for long-term care - meaning that they are likely to become a public charge – it is grounds to be denied citizenship.
CMF has been following news of public charge, as a number of Michigan foundations are working to support immigrant and refugee populations across the state.
DHS had published proposed rule changes related to public charge in the Federal Register in October 2018. Over the course of a 60-day period, more than 266,000 public comments were received. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) notes that more than 60 philanthropic institutions submitted comments on the proposed public charge rules before the December 10, 2018 deadline. GCIR gathered comments by philanthropy on the rule change.
As CMF previously reported, the rule changes redefine some aspects of public charge when considering if the person is likely to ever become financially vulnerable based on their past and current use of assistance programs. Factors considered include age, English-language ability, and employment status. The list of programs has also been expanded to include SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, Section 8 Rental Assistance and certain aspects of the Medicaid and Medicare Part D low-income subsidy program.
Should the rule be enforced, individuals who currently use cash benefits, SNAP, Medicaid (except for pregnant women, children under 21 years of age and those using emergency Medicaid), and public and Section 8 housing, may be affected by the changes. Services such WIC, school meals, emergency assistance and Affordable Care Act Marketplace Coverage would not be affected. Additionally, public charge does not apply to current citizens, those in the process of applying for citizenship, those ineligible to receive green cards or who do not plan to apply for one and those looking to renew their green cards, as well as those seeking asylum and refugee status, among other immigration statuses.
According to GCIR, as many as 26 million people across the country could be deterred from accessing services for which they are eligible if the changes go forward.
In an August 2019 announcement, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, had said that through the public charge rule, the federal administration is “reinforcing the ideal of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful in America."
Critics of these changes have voiced their concerns for the well-being of immigrant populations across the nation and here in Michigan.
“We are all stronger when human beings can live with greater security and dignity by getting the help they are entitled to under our laws,” Robert Gordon, director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said in a press release. “We must not discourage individuals from getting benefits based on misunderstandings.”
As reported by CMF last month, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, The Kresge Foundation and GCIR are part of a new partnership – the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative – which seeks to provide funding to organizations who provide basic needs and legal services to immigrants, as well as other forms of programming and assistance.
The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Michigan United and the National Partnership for New Americans will be co-hosting the 2019 National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) from October 20-22, 2019, in Detroit.
Learn more about the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative.
Honoring Philanthropy’s Leaders
The 47th Annual Conference included recognition of honorees who have earned this year’s philanthropy awards.
Dr. Gerald K. Smith Award for Philanthropy: Lynne Ferrell
Lynne Ferrell has been named the 2019 recipient of the Dr. Gerald K. Smith Award for Philanthropy, an honor presented by the Michigan Forum for African Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP). The award honors the significant efforts and contributions of individuals in the field whose work and grantmaking activities promote effective and responsive social change in communities of color. The award was presented by co-chairs of CMF’s MFAAP affinity group: Jonse Young of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Marcus McGrew of The Kresge Foundation.
Ferrell leads the portfolio of grants for the Frey Foundation, one of the largest family foundations in Michigan. She is also a member of the foundation’s leadership team, informing organizational culture, strategy and efficiency. Ferrell joined the Frey Foundation in 2000 as a program officer, analyzing funding proposals designed to improve outcomes for young children and catalyze civic development.
“The Frey Foundation and the Frey Family are all incredibly honored to have Lynne be a part of our very important work we do in Western and Northern Michigan,” said Holly Johnson, president and CEO of the foundation. “The tables that Lynne sits at are changed by her influence, and so much of the impact we’ve been able to have in the communities we serve is because of Lynne sitting at those tables.”
Young added, “She is committed to amplifying and lifting voices within the community that may not have been otherwise been lifted.”
In accepting the award, Ferrell said, “I had to learn at an early age that not everyone was going to listen to my voice. I had to find a way for them to hear me, and that was through understanding how to listen and how to find elements of commonality to make sure that voices that are marginalized in the room are being heard.”
Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy: John Erb
John Erb has been named the 2019 recipient of the Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy. The award was presented by Erb’s colleagues Thomas Cook of the Cook Family Foundation and Jon Aaron, William Davidson Foundation, also a member of the CMF Board of Trustees.
Given annually since 1995, the award honors individuals with a demonstrated commitment to leadership, impact, creativity and collaboration in their philanthropy. The award is named for Dr. Russell G. Mawby, chairman emeritus of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and founder of both CMF and the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO, MNA, joined in introducing the award.
The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation was established in 2007; John Erb was its founding president and leader. The foundation focuses its grantmaking primarily in three issue areas: the environment, arts and culture, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“We look to the Erb Foundation as a real model in how to engage the community, and we really appreciate their leadership when it comes to water issues, and the Great Lakes, and promoting the environment throughout the state of Michigan,” Cook shared.
In a video shared at the event, Marian Noland, president, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, shared, “For those of us who knew Russ Mawby, it really is a pleasure to see someone like John Erb get this award. He embodies so much of the spirit of Russ, which was to invest in the future of all of us and the well-being of this state. That is so true of John and of the foundation.”
Community Foundation Philanthropy Award: Georgia and Travis Fojtasek
Georgia and Travis Fojtasek were named the 2019 recipients of the Community Foundation Philanthropy Award by CMF and MNA.
The couple are volunteers, former trustees and past committee members of the Jackson Community Foundation. They were honored at CMF’s 47th Annual Conference on October 7, 2019. The award was presented by Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO, MNA, along with Monica Moser, president and CEO of the foundation and the Honorable Carlene Walz LeFere, past chair of the foundation and 2018 recipient of the Community Foundation Philanthropy Award.
The Community Foundation Philanthropy Award was established by CMF and MNA in 2006 to honor a living individual or couple for service as both volunteer/trustee and donor to help grow community philanthropy in Michigan on behalf of one or more community foundations.
The Fojtasek’s each served nine-year terms as trustees for the Jackson Community Foundation and were deeply engaged in some of the foundation’s most active committees. The pair launched an endowment through the foundation to support students with financial need who are going into the field of nursing; the fund is now in its 15th year. They were also celebrated for their volunteer efforts in the community.
“We were only able to highlight a few of the many contributions Georgia and Travis have made to our community,” said Monica Moser, president and CEO of the Jackson Community Foundation. “I cannot express how proud and thankful I am that they have been a constant support to JCF and what a wonderful example of volunteerism and philanthropy they are in the community they call home.”
Honoring William S. White
The final recognition at the Annual Conference was of William S. White, just two before his passing. DJ Jones, Chair of the CMF Board of Trustees shared a resolution on behalf of the Board recognizing White as a fervent champion for philanthropy’s role in engaging youth, developing community foundations, advancing environmental preservation and supporting the arts. The Board also highlighted White’s leadership over his five-decade career in strengthening community foundations, his commitment to capacity-building for nonprofit organizations, exceptional collaboration and investment in the future of the sector.
CMF also announced on October 7 the establishment of the William S. White Fund for Innovations in Community Philanthropy, a new permanent endowment fund launched with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
Member Spotlight: Blue Cross Commits $5 Million in Detroit's East Warren/Cadieux Area
Content adapted from an article in Crain’s. Read the full article.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committing $5 million to support the revitalization of the East Warren/Cadieux area on Detroit's east side as part of Mayor Mike Duggan's initiative to leverage private investments into community improvements.
Blue Cross is teaming with communities in the area through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) and the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund with the investment that will be distributed through 2022, according to a news release.
In December, seven corporations — including CMF members Blue Cross, Chemical Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Flagstar Bank — committed a combined $35 million toward the SNF.
The seven neighborhoods targeted for investments are Grand River Northwest / Old Redford, Warrendale / Cody-Rouge, Russell Woods / Nardin Park, Banglatown, Gratiot / Seven Mile, East Warren / Cadieux and Jefferson-Chalmers.
"I'm especially excited to see our dollars leveraged by residents of this neighborhood to design improvements that fit with the needs and character of their community," Loepp said in the release. "This is a ground-up effort, and we are eager to see the progress that will be made thanks to the ideas and ingenuity of the people who live in this area."
The BCBSM investment will go toward improving neighborhood streetscapes and walkability and help jump-start local businesses, as well as expand and preserve affordable housing, the release said.
Blue Cross employs nearly 5,500 people in Detroit, about 50 of whom who live in and around the East Warren/Cadieux area, the release said.
The Strategic Neighborhood Fund and the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund account for $422 million in private and public support, the release said. Both are expected to leverage more than $1 billion in investment in the city's neighborhoods.
"This strategic investment will help build on the great progress we have begun to see in neighborhoods like Morningside, Cornerstone Village and East English Village, as well as along the area's commercial corridors," Duggan said in the release.
The city is seeking the input from residents on specific projects through district-focused meetings, the release said. Residents with an interest in getting involved can visit theneighborhoods.org for more information.