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October 29, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

MI Collaborative Impact Investing Fund: Fund Manager Announces New Impact Theme

The Michigan Collaborative, managed by Community Capital Management (CCM), launched last year to encourage increased investment in targeted fixed income investments in specific geographical areas in Michigan through CCM’s publicly traded mutual fund, the CRA Fund. It is available to members, and CMF is also an investor.

The Michigan Collaborative has provided opportunities for investment in Michigan in affordable housing, targeted small business lending and civic infrastructure from endowment portfolios.

CCM recently announced an additional portfolio impact theme offering. Themes – used to target investments as an alternative to earmarking investments by geographies - are chosen by CCM based on trends in the impact investing space and client requests and because they can “contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes” in addition to superior risk-adjusted returns.

The new CCM theme is economic inclusion, defined as “assisting and supporting the process of bringing targeted groups, individuals, and communities closer to the economic mainstream and capital markets.” Examples of impact investments falling in this theme would include financial literacy training, loans to first-time homebuyers, small business loans, rent-to-own housing programs and “banking the unbanked” initiatives.

Economic inclusion is now one of 17 available investment themes through CCM. Two case studies highlighted by CCM show work underway in Michigan in the affordable and accessible housing theme.

The fund invested in Allen Manor, a low-income senior housing community in Grand Rapids that is providing 24 units of low-income senior housing, including accessible housing.

CCM also highlighted a project where bond proceeds are to be used by the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) to refund outstanding mortgage loans and refinance newly originated mortgage loans for the construction, permanent financing or acquisition and rehabilitation of developments through their various programs.

Two of those projects include Silverstone Townhomes in Ingham County, consisting of 105 affordable homes for families, including accessible housing, and Riverview Terrace in Emmet County which updated a property providing 70 units of affordable housing.

Impact investing through the Michigan Collaborative has led to more than $200 million in investments in our state.

The $200 million in investments support home mortgages for low- and moderate-income borrowers, enterprise development and job creation, statewide home ownership and down payment assistance, economic development, environmental sustainability, neighborhood revitalization and healthy communities.

MI Collaborative impact highlights:

  • $35 million has been invested in statewide home ownership and down payment assistance.

  • $12 million was invested in economic development, environmental sustainability, neighborhood revitalization and healthy communities.

  • Investments have been made to leverage:

    • 8,500 affordable rental units.

    • 805 home mortgages for low- and moderate-income borrowers.

  • $2 million has been invested in enterprise development and job creation.

Want more?

If you’d like to learn more about impact investing please connect with Jennifer Oertel, CMF’s impact investing expert-in-residence.

Learn more about The Michigan Collaborative. 

Check out CMF members’ impact investing work in action. 

 

Michigan’s TRHT Work Engages Attorneys in Focus on Pillar of Law

The State Bar of Michigan recently invited lawyers from around the state to participate in racial healing circles as part of the Michigan Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) initiative facilitated by CMF and supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF).

The TRHT framework developed by WKKF is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

WKKF explains the racial healing process as composed of three parts: listening; becoming open to one another’s perspectives and experiences; and allowing yourself to be impacted and/or be transformed by the experience.

“We say that the racial healing circle is an experience which, through the sharing of personal stories and the practice of deep listening, we begin to build the empathy and trust necessary to engage in the hard work of eradicating racism in our society,” said Mee Moua, consultant to WKKF.

CMF is supporting the Michigan TRHT effort currently underway in Battle Creek, Flint, Kalamazoo and Lansing through a $4.2 million grant from WKKF. 

Several of those who are leading the work in the Michigan TRHT communities served as healing circle facilitators for the Affinity Bar Summit.

With support from the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a CMF member, the State Bar invited about 45 lawyers to participate in racial healing circles and visioning activities directly aligned with the law component of the TRHT framework: “Reviewing discriminatory civil and criminal laws and the public policies that come from them and recommending solutions that will produce a just application of the law.”

“One of the transformation pillars of TRHT is the law,” said Alisa Parker, who serves on the TRHT Statewide Advisory Council, is a member of the Kalamazoo TRHT leadership team and on the TRHT law design team. Parker is also managing attorney of the Calhoun, Branch and Barry division of Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM), which provides free legal advice and representation to low-income individuals, families and older adults.

“Although this pillar encompasses the entire system of law in this country, the State Bar is a key stakeholder. It was important to engage this stakeholder group as it relates to input on how the work of TRHT and the law is shaped and designed not just in the four Michigan TRHT communities but across the state as a whole,” commented Parker.

Gregory Conyers, director of diversity at the State Bar, organized the event to connect lawyers in the state with the TRHT framework.

“Our real goal beyond the macro goal is to ensure the State Bar is a key player in the entire statewide process so that we can be certain to have lawyers feed into the process, talk about solutions from the ground and use those opportunities to feed out the learning to our members,” Conyers said. “With this kind of work in particular, we can take what happens and talk about these experiences to move the work forward in improving diversity in the profession and access to justice for underrepresented groups.”

Racial healing circles were facilitated by healing practitioners, several of whom who were trained in May at the Michigan TRHT Learning Community event hosted by CMF.

“The need for racial healing among legal practitioners is real,” Parker said. “We often don't take time to have these kinds of conversations but that is how we connect our humanity to the work that can result in real impact for our clients and communities.”

Parker told CMF that the circles allowed for lawyers to engage in a new way.

“From the circle I participated in, it opened up conversation and gave new insights into how we could use our personal platforms to really disrupt structural racism,” Parker said. “I also made new connections with fellow lawyers that I had not known but walked away feeling like we could work together in new ways.”

“For me this was a natural progression in terms of building up a toolkit to have these conversations in a meaningful way, to build bridges of communication among different people,” Conyers said. “I think you have to have that to avoid some of the barriers we know exist.”

At the Affinity Bar Summit, lawyers also engaged in a deep discussion and visioning process about the State Bar’s future involvement in TRHT.

Parker said they would like to consider how they can do more racial healing practice as well as education and intentional training on issues of racial equity and inclusion.

CMF has hosted racial healing circles for CMF staff and board trustees, as well as CMF members, including last year at our Annual Conference.

If you’re interested in participating in a circle or a TRHT activity, you can connect with a healing circle practitioner near you by contacting Laura Collier, CMF Program Coordinator, Learning Services.

There will be more events happening in TRHT communities, as well as statewide for the National Day of Racial Healing in January. CMF will share details on those events as they become available.

Want more?

Learn more about TRHT.

 

Preventing Bullying in MI Schools

As October wraps up National Bullying Prevention Month, the state is sharing data around what we’re seeing in Michigan schools and efforts underway to combat bullying and the effects on Michigan kids.

Data at a glance:

  • About one in five students in the U.S. reports being bullied at school.

  • Nationally, cyberbullying incidents have nearly doubled in the past decade.

  • In Michigan, nearly one of every four high schoolers reports being bullied at school.

  • One in five Michigan students reported being cyberbullied.

In a confidential survey of high schoolers conducted by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), 9th graders reported they experienced the most bullying on school property within the past year.

“There is no place for bullying in our schools,” Sheila Alles, interim state superintendent said. “Our children need safe, supportive environments to learn and develop into successful and thoughtful adults.”

Earlier this month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office released the latest data from the OK2SAY platform, which serves as a reporting tool for Michigan students.

In September alone, OK2SAY received nearly 400 tips, a 30 percent increase from September 2017. The top two categories receiving the most tips were suicide and bullying.

Since its launch in 2014, 10,000 tips have been submitted to the platform.

The platform and programming throughout the state is focused on providing students with education and resources around bullying.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) continues its statewide Anti-Bullying Tour, featuring  Anthony Ianni, a graduate of Michigan State University who became the first known individual who has autism to play division I college basketball. Ianni talks with students about his experiences being bullied as a child.

In our 2018 Youth Advisory Council/Committee (YAC) Databook survey, YAC-ers cited bullying as their top concern.

CMF members are working to provide resources and support for students in this area.

The Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation provides funding for the Michigan Masonic Model Student Assistance Program to help train high school teachers and guidance counselors to recognize the signs of teenage bullying.

The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan has provided funding to identify strategies to address the physical and emotional effects of bullying.

As Crain’s Detroit Business reports, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation recently awarded a $1.9 million grant to Playworks to expand programming for students in Southeast Michigan. As CMF has reported, Playworks provides coaches and training to schools to facilitate play at recess and to make sure kids all feel welcome and involved. In the schools where it’s been implemented 85 percent of school staff have reported fewer incidents of bullying in school. 

Want more?

Learn more about OK2SAY.

Connect with MDCR’s Anti-Bullying Relentless Tour.

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Bosch Community Fund supporting teacher development program to improve outcomes for students

Content excerpted and adapted from a press release. Read the full release.

Bosch Community Fund, a CMF corporate giving program member, provided a grant to support the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), an initiative launched in 2015 by The Steelcase Foundation and The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM).

CETL works in partnership with teachers and administrators in West Michigan schools; the initiative brings national best practices and strategies to Michigan classrooms.

“The Education Trust-Midwest shares our dedication to provide strategic opportunities that help close the education gap in accessibility and achievement for students,” Kat Owsley, president of the Bosch Community Fund said. “This critical work supports our goal of enhancing equity and advancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. We’re honored to be partnering with an organization that sets the standard for exceptional education in Michigan.”

ETM shared in the press release: “By supporting teachers and principals through high-quality professional development and mentoring, the CETL is helping narrow achievement gaps in partner schools. Results from partner schools show a double-digit narrowing of the achievement deficiency in English language arts and math over the past three years.”

“Providing high-quality instruction to Michigan students is among the most effective strategies for improving student learning,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of ETM. “All students can learn when provided with the right tools and support. As a result of this grant from the Bosch Community Fund, we can work to make this a reality for more students.”

As CMF reported, teacher leadership programs were part of the “Boosting Educational Excellence in Michigan” discussion on the main stage at CMF’s 46th Annual Conference.

Arellano and CMF members discussed how this work aligns with the work of Launch Michigan, a diverse, statewide coalition of stakeholders, including CMF, committed to boosting educational excellence for every student in every school throughout our state.

Want more?

Connect with news from The Education Trust-Midwest.

Learn more about Launch Michigan.

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