Focusing on Solutions for MI Education
Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) recently announced a new education reform coalition aimed at catalyzing action to improve Michigan’s education outcomes.
The coalition led by BLM includes Education Trust-Midwest, The Skillman Foundation and business and education leaders from around the state.
“Too many younger workers lack the basic skills they need in literacy and math—and the problem seems to be getting worse,” Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of BLM said. “It’s time for all of us to come together, learn from other states, and make things right.”
“I am pleased to see so many Michigan stakeholders pulling together for the change young learners need,” Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, a member of the BLM coalition said. “If we can continue to collaborate around effective solutions for students, we will almost certainly move the needle on K–12 achievement.”
In conjunction with the coalition, BLM released a new report, Business Leaders’ Insights: Leading Practices in K-12 Education That Can Improve Student Outcomes in Michigan.
The report examines best practices and models from five states that are comparable to Michigan: Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Tennessee. The report highlights effective strategies these states are leveraging that can lead to action steps for Michigan.
Maintain high college and career readiness standards: Keep and strengthen the M-STEP. The 2014 M-STEP was aligned with national benchmarks and provides an accurate measure of a student’s readiness to succeed after 12th grade. The Michigan Department of Education has recommended changing to a different assessment in 2018, while the report recommends staying the course with the assessment to increase the rigor of assessments. Last week CMF’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that emerged from the Public Policy Committee for CMF to advocate in support of maintaining the M-STEP.
Prepare and train teachers on Michigan’s standards and provide effective opportunities for professional development and access to technology and data: Provide teachers access to high-quality curricula, tools and resources to support learning objectives and opportunities to learn together. The report also recommends full implementation of the statewide educator evaluation and support system.
Make sure classroom funding is adequate and equitable: Among the five states in the study, Michigan has the second highest level of per pupil spending. The report recommends reassessing the costs to educate Michigan students and that our state make the most of current funds. First, the report states Michigan should utilize the Michigan Adequacy Study published in January to understand the approximate range of costs to educate Michigan students. The second recommendation is to execute a study on the effectiveness of current spending to help inform strategic decisions.
Adopt accountability metrics that are easily understood: Michigan’s Parent Dashboard for School Transparency is a positive step, but consideration should be given to show how Michigan schools are doing compared to others around the country.
These ideas and more were shared during recent Solutions Summits across the state, hosted by the Center for Michigan, Bridge Magazine and BLM.
The conversations at the summits called for more action, including support for the coalition’s goal of cross-sector collaboration from businesses, education and philanthropy to help catalyze an equitable education agenda at the state level with legislators.
“Michigan’s approach to improving education has been both piece-meal and unsuccessful,” Julie Ridenour, president, Steelcase Foundation told CMF. “To address this critical situation, the current circumstances require a comprehensive approach which includes accountability, professional development for all educators and a whole-state commitment to a quality public education for all children. This is an issue which affects all students, pre-K through college, their parents and their future employers.”
At the Solutions Summit in Detroit, there were business and education policy leaders from Tennessee and Massachusetts discussing their roles in moving education reform forward in their respective states.
Panelists from Tennessee and Massachusetts shared how important business leadership was in their states to accelerate the education work which also supports economic development and the demands of a changing workforce.
“The world is changing fast, we have to prepare our students to be life long learners who can adapt to a changing society, a global society and to the workforce of the future which is going to be having a job that hasn’t been invented yet,” Linda Noonan, executive director, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education said. “That’s what we try to do by influencing state policy to drive improvements in education.”
As an example, in Tennessee 700 core coaches were selected and trained from a pool of teachers. Over the course of three years, the core coaching teachers went on to train the entire teacher workforce.
There were other successful examples shared, including a program underway in West Michigan that was modeled from Tennessee. The Center for Excellence, Teaching and Learning (CETL), launched by Ed Trust-Midwest in partnership with the Steelcase Foundation, works with educators to better support instructional practice, collaboration and professional development. Three of the five elementary schools working with CETL are among the top improving schools in the state.
“The work that Ed Trust-Midwest is doing in partnership with the Steelcase Foundation is a clear example of using a best practice model from Tennessee and implementing it in the west side of the state,” said Eve Haley, CMF P-20 Education Affinity Group member and program officer, Bosch Community Fund, who attended the summit. “It’s imperative that we’re doing research-based best practices in our schools.”
To accelerate this work, BLM’s coalition is planning to move forward in the coming weeks and months.
"We intend to work towards raising public awareness over the course of the summer and approach candidates for office with these ideas to make sure they're aligned with this direction, as well,” Rothwell told the Detroit Free Press.
Learn more about the coalition.
Explore the data from the 2018 State of Michigan Education Report.
Deeper Dive into the Omnibus Spending Bill
The omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump will remain in effect, funding the government through September 30.
Several of the key provisions CMF members were advocating for while in D.C. for Foundations on the Hill in March received support in the spending bill.
We’re breaking down the highlights and why the philanthropic field is pushing for continued advocacy around these programs and issues beyond the current temporary spending bill.
As the National Council of Nonprofits shared, the bill provides an increase in funding for Census 2020, totaling $1.34 billion.
CMF is pleased that Congress has appropriated additional funding for the Census Bureau, however, due to years of underfunding there is still a great deal at stake for Census 2020 and unfortunately these concerns will not be resolved by the extra funding provided this year.
As the Michigan Nonprofits Count campaign has shared, challenges to an accurate and equitable count include:
Access to reliable internet and cybersecurity issues: As hard-to-count populations may not have access to high-speed reliable internet this can pose an issue for an accurate count as the Census Bureau is planning to collect the majority of census information online. Also, with breaches and cybersecurity fears, people may be hesitant to share their information with the government online.
Collecting census information: The Census Bureau’s years of underfunding will affect how they collect census information, including scaling back door-to-door outreach and decreasing the number of regional and local census offices by 50 percent.
A lack of trust from the public in our government: The campaign shares that data from the Pew Research Center shows that only 20 percent of Americans feel they can trust our government. This can make it difficult to get people to engage and provide information to the government.
Addition of the citizenship question: Last week the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it will add the citizenship question to the Census 2020 form. CMF requested the federal government not add the citizenship question to the Census 2020 form because it hasn’t been field tested, unlike other questions on the census form to date. By law, the form closed on March 31 and adding the citizenship question so close to that deadline means that it was too late to be field tested.
As The New York Times reported, at least a dozen states have responded to the announcement saying they are suing the federal government to block the citizenship question from being added, as they believe it will lead to an incomplete count.
As for how the funding will be allocated, Congress has directed the Census Bureau to report back to them on specifics regarding how the additional funding will be used.
Read more about the Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign, a statewide effort, led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) which aims to mobilize nonprofits to support on-the-ground outreach efforts within historically hard-to-count populations to ensure a complete and accurate count in Census 2020.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
The bill fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) with $300 million.
The GLRI, which receives bipartisan support in Congress, is aimed at ensuring a healthy future for our lakes and protecting them from pollution, invasive species and other environmental threats.
Senator Debbie Stabenow announced that this bill supports the GLRI and “expedites action to combat Asian carp.”
The bill provides $2.4 billion in extra funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) for states. As a result, Michigan is slated to receive an additional $69 million in federal funding, providing CCDBG-funded child care to an additional 3,480 children in the state.
As CMF has reported, our P-20 Education Affinity Group has been working deeply in this area, supported by CMF and the Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL).
As a result of the affinity group’s work and the insights provided by Building a Better Child Care System, a report funded by the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, CMF, authorized by our P-20 Education Affinity Group, board of trustees and Public Policy Committee, advocated for increasing the threshold of eligibility for child care subsidies and for increased child care provider reimbursement rates. Both of which passed.
CMF members, OFL and advocates from around the state plan to have continued talks about what this additional CCDBG funding may mean for Michigan. We’ll share more details as this develops.
Programs that were slated for elimination in the proposed federal budget
The National Council of Nonprofits states that the omnibus bill funds the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowments for the Humanities (NEH) at $153 million each, which is an increase of $3 million from last year.
The bill provides full funding, $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
The Corporation for National and Community Service received a boost in funding.
CMF members advocated for full funding of these programs, asking lawmakers to support the federal funding of public-private partnerships with the nonprofit sector through these federal departments and agencies.
The Johnson Amendment
Fortunately, the bill does not include language to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment, thereby keeping politics out of the charitable sector.
“This is a big win for nonprofit nonpartisanship, but there’s still more to do to ensure that philanthropy stays free of political influence,” Council on Foundations (COF) tweeted.
However, as Independent Sector shared there may be future efforts to weaken or repeal it stating in part, “Congressional staff and political experts assure us that there will be efforts to try again.”
Last year, CMF joined nearly 4,500 nonprofit organizations in signing a letter of nonpartisanship which urged Congress to maintain the Johnson Amendment.
Read about CMF members’ trip to Capitol Hill.
Census Day, April 1, 2020 is now less than two years away. Join the April 9th webinar, Participate. Convene. Invest: A Call to Action for the 2020 Census. Check out resources from the United Philanthropy Forum.
CSR 2020: Experts Look Ahead
Blackbaud has released a new e-book, “CSR 2020: Experts Look Ahead" which examines how corporate social responsibility (CSR) has evolved, the demands of today and the trajectory of CSR work in the future.
It provides perspectives from the field about the changing leadership role companies in the U.S. have taken on and what consumers and employees want from corporate America.
The report states that there’s been a clear shift in what consumers and employees expect from companies, as they are looking to companies to be engaged in CSR and demonstrate social impact.
CECP shares in the report that “two-thirds of CEOs agree that companies — not the government or NGOs – will lead progress toward long-term societal improvement.”
As Justin Bakule, executive director of the Shared Value Initiative shares, in the past year alone, we’ve seen companies stepping up and serving as leaders in tackling a range of social issues including racial inequities, immigration, sexual harassment, community violence, climate change and more.
Bakule writes that “CEO activism” is just beginning and in the future, they’ll be even more engaged in developing “new business models that find new sources of profit in solving our society’s urgent problems.”
Rachel Hutchisson, vice president of corporate citizenship and philanthropy at Blackbaud, talks about the importance of human social responsibility as people search for meaning in their work and lives, want to feel empowered and want to see change.
“People, today, bring their whole selves to work,” Hutchisson writes. “We each sign our own human contract with the world, bringing who we are and what we stand for into our jobs.”
Hutchisson said this presents an opportunity for companies to move from their corporate goals to “embracing and co-creating with the people who work alongside of us.”
The various perspectives offered in the report provide several key takeaways about what companies face in the future and how to best align and power their CSR work.
Preparing for a changing workforce: Bakule shares that we are facing a future of automation, a growing “gig economy” and a changing workforce, noting that by 2020, millennials will make up over half of the workforce. To attract and retain talent, especially millennial talent, the report says, “Meaningful engagement around CSR is imperative.”
Developing human capital: The report shares there will be a greater focus on developing human capital in the future noting that involving employees on nonprofit boards can help companies invest in their employees and advance workplace diversity and inclusion.
Service as leadership development: The report says skills-based volunteerism (SBV), which is focused on “professionals investing their skills along with their time – builds the leadership skills of employees and makes them a stronger, happier part of the workforce.” Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, says we will see more SBV programs and those programs evolving to zero-in on leadership development in the future.
Creating connections to causes: As socially-minded millennials dominate the workforce, David Hessekiel, president and founder of Cause Marketing Forum says it’s important to weave causes into business objectives, corporate values and in the digital world. “The companies that enable us to get that do-good feeling without missing a beat will earn trust and affinity.”
Dive into the full report with insights from the field.
CMF corporate foundation and giving program members, don’t miss out on the next Corporate Giving Webinar, Healthy Businesses Fuel Healthy Communities on April 19.
Join your peers to share challenges, discuss best practices, network and learn together at the upcoming Spring Corporate Retreat, May 7-8 in South Haven.
How three CMF members are making their communities more vibrant through placemaking, attracting and retaining talent
This month we’re sharing the newest video from our rural philanthropy video series featuring the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, Huron County Community Foundation and Sanilac County Community Foundation.
The video shares the different strategies these community foundations in the Thumb region have leveraged to make their communities more vibrant, create pathways to college attainment and encourage their local talent to return home.
“I feel that our entire community wins,” Mackenzie Price Sundblad, executive director, Huron County Community Foundation said. “I feel that our kids win because they grow up in a vibrant community that comes together, rallies around ideas and utilizes their public spaces well.”
Huron County has given out 16 grants to placemaking programs, working with local harbors to improve their landscapes, supporting youth baseball facilities and art and sculpture projects to create inviting spaces for the community to enjoy.
The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has also supported placemaking and other efforts to make the community a place where people want to live and work.
“We have a program where we pay recent college graduates to move back home. It’s called the Come Home Reverse Scholarship Program,” Randy Maiers, president and CEO, St. Clair County Community Foundation said. “It’s the first program of its kind in America where we pay up to $10,000 for college graduates to be able to afford to move back home.”
Sanilac County Community Foundation launched a children’s savings account (CSA) program which provides a $50 seed deposit for kindergartners. Throughout their K-12 education they have an opportunity to earn matching dollars to grow their fund for college.
“When you give somebody the ability to pursue something that was once out of reach you break them out of a poverty mindset. They’re three times more likely to go to college.” Melissa Anderson, executive director, Sanilac County Community Foundation said.
Check out the full story.
This video is the latest in our rural philanthropy video series featuring innovative work underway by members serving rural communities.
The CMF Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group led the development of this series, so members can learn from their peers about the creative and innovative solutions happening in Michigan’s rural places to improve the lives of residents.
Stay tuned next month as we share how the Community Foundation of Marquette County is leveraging an unconventional community partnership to achieve rural prosperity.
Check out the rural philanthropy video series to date: