Mackinac Policy Conference Review

Last week, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce held its annual Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Donna Murray-Brown and I were fortunate enough to attend the conference this year on behalf of MNA. One difference in the conference this year, was the lack of lawmakers. Michigan legislators stayed behind in Lansing to put the finishing touches on the FY’12-13 state budget.

This year’s theme was on making Michigan and Detroit a place for global competitiveness. To help attendees think about Michigan in a global setting, the Detroit Chamber had two very high-profile foreign affairs experts, Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman. Both had very similar messages, Michigan and the United States can no longer think of itself as the sole “super power” on the global stage – both in foreign policy and economic progress. Both Zakaria and Friedman came to the same recommendations, improve US infrastructure (including wireless deployment), open up immigration policy, and invest in K-16 education. Detroit Public Television has both sessions on their website, you can view each of them here.

Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman were not the only ones touting the need for Michigan to invest in the future. Numerous keynote speakers and panelists also reiterated the point: if Michigan is going to succeed, it must invest in the future.

One slightly low point of the conference was the “Fab Five” panel, where the leaders of Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties, and Detroit Mayor, David Bing discussed regional collaboration. There was much more of the usual bickering around turf and who should pay for what, instead of broader discussion of a vision of what regionalism looks like for the Detroit area, which would have built upon what the other keynote speakers proposed. There is always next year…

 

Submitted by Christina Kuo, Senior Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs, Michigan Nonprofit Association

Capacity Building: Detroit Sub-Grant Award Program for Culturally Diverse and Inclusive Arts and Culture Organizations

In September 2010, the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center in Boston began delivering a local program called Capacity Building: Detroit. The program will run for 2 years and supports arts and culture organizations located in Southeast Michigan by providing seminars, web-chat discussions and one-on-one coaching for the 52 participating organizations. The goal of the Capacity Building: Detroit program is to equip arts and culture organizations with the tools necessary to become more efficient and effective in the day-to-day organizational management of their organizations, helping them to better meet their missions.

Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation, Michigan Nonprofit Association in partnership with Cultural Alliance for Southeastern Michigan has been able to offer a special sub-grant program to augment the work of the Capacity Building: Detroit program and extend further resources to participating arts and culture organizations that are culturally diverse and inclusive or are serving culturally diverse communities in Southeast Michigan.  The goal of the sub-grant program is to provide these culturally diverse and inclusive organizations with the additional resources needed to increase their capacity to deliver services to culturally diverse and inclusive audiences by implementing the skills learned through the Capacity Building: Detroit program.

MNA is committed to infusing the principles of diversity in all facets of its work and recognizes that gaps in access to capacity building opportunities exist more frequently for culturally diverse organizations: this sub-grant program seeks to address that gap. For the purposes of this awards program, participating organizations deemed to be eligible as culturally diverse and inclusive were asked to meet the following two criteria: 1) The board or leadership staff of the organization is more than 50% culturally diverse; and 2) The audience/participants of the organization are 80% or more culturally diverse, and the organization has a proven track record of serving the needs of one or more of the targeted cultural groups.*

In February, facilitated by the Metro Detroit Partnership and MNA’s Capacity Building team, the sub-granting scheme awarded 15 participating organizations with grants of up to $15,000. Successful applications were awarded funding to develop projects that focus on implementing organizational capacity building initiatives, including: institutional and programmatic marketing strategies, fundraising, strategic planning, season planning, and board development and training opportunities.

Congratulations to the successful organizations!

Heritage Works

Living Arts

MSU Community Music School Detroit

Matrix Theatre Company

Sphinx Organization

Arts League of Michigan

Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit

Music Hall

Michigan Youth Arts

Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation

PuppetART Theater

Stagecrafters

Heidelberg Project

Arab American National Museum

*Targeted Cultural Groups: African American, Asian American, Latin/Hispanic, and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) groups.

Submitted by Annie McGuigan Fenton, Capacity Building Manager, Michigan Nonprofit Association

Students Helping Others Through Service

On March 24, 2012 the Fifth Third Bank and Detroit Red Wings service initiative, Students Helping Others Through Service (SHOTS), came to a close. SHOTS was a program that encouraged southeast Michigan high school students to invest their time, talent and treasure in their communities. Groups of up to 6 students and an adult supervisor registered for the project, committing to at least one service project between October and February. Each month, the groups could submit their project to a panel of judges, and a monthly winner was selected, receiving a pizza party and a chance at the grand prize – iPads and money towards future service projects.

On Saturday, five groups of students gathered from all over Southeast Michigan. Each group had a chance to present their project to the judges. Whenever a group returned to the ‘holding room’, the other groups cheered and greeted them, asking how everything went and learning about new service ideas. Suburban and urban kids, though there to compete with each other, found themselves building new, lasting friendships with students they may not have met otherwise. After all groups presented, the students enjoyed a pizza party, a ride on the Detroit People Mover, and ice cream. Once all the festivities concluded, the groups settled into their seats to watch the Red Wings 5-4 win over Carolina.

Each service project was unique, creative, and led by the students. The Interact Club at Airport High School (Carleton, MI) put together Thanksgiving care baskets for cancer patients. Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Southgate Anderson HS (Southgate, MI) sold colored lanyards to help raise money for breast cancer research, animal cruelty prevention and support for kids with leukemia. Detroit Edison Public School Academy Early College of Excellence (Detroit, MI) collected coloring books and crayons for Children’s Hospital and donated 590 pounds of food to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Students at Davison High School (Davison, MI) handmade 190 Valentine’s Day cards and held a Valentine’s Day party at a local senior residential facility.

But it was a group of young men from Detroit that secured the grand prize. The Loyola Leaders for Others group, based at Loyola High School, baked hundreds of homemade cookies, and distributed them, along with blankets and warm clothing, directly to the homeless in Cass Corridor in Detroit on Christmas Eve. Each student received an iPad, and the group as a whole received at check for $530 to use towards future service endeavors. Congratulations to this great group of young men and future leaders!

To encourage all of the finalists to continue their service efforts, Fifth Third Bank is giving each of the other four groups a check for $253 to help support their next projects. All in all, the 2011-2012 SHOTS program was a great success, and Fifth Third Bank, The Detroit Red Wings and The LEAGUE Michigan are excited to see what wonderful projects happen next year!

Submitted by Heather Jones, AmeriCorps*VISTA, The LEAGUE Michigan

Despite differences, education is central to both State and Federal Budgets

These past few weeks have demonstrated the challenges of creating sound, effective budgets at the state and national level. The Michigan and federal budgets, however, paint two very different pictures of the health of their constituents.

The recession over the past four years has not been kind, but there seems to be a glimmer of hope in Michigan. After several consecutive years of painful cuts, it appears the financial outlook is more optimistic with 2012’s budget surplus. Education funding increased by 0.2%, public safety funding is also set to increase, and the “Rainy Day” fund will grow by an additional $130 million, according to the State Budget Office. At the Federal level, by contrast, the deficit still weighs heavily on programs most Americans take for granted, but rely on – the President offered a 52% decrease in Education, a 35% decrease in Labor, and slight increases for Health and Human Services (3.7%) and the Corporation of National and Community Service (1.3%).

Still, there are some common commitments between the two budgets, such as improving performance and affordability of education. President Obama promotes a ‘Race to the Top’ and links financial aid to universities that keep their tuition under control. Governor Rick Snyder also wants to link increased spending in education to improved performance, best practices, and college tuition restraint. And they are politicians from two different parties.

Despite the other differing priorities of the two budgets, it is clear that superior education for future generations must be a priority for education beyond high school. Whether it is community college, traditional four-year, or vocational – higher education has become increasingly important to achieve personal financial security.

Submitted by Michelle Eichhorst, Public Policy Fellow for Michigan Nonprofit Association

Nonprofits Ready to Partner

Wednesday night, Governor Snyder gave his second State of the State address. As he talked about how far Michigan has moved forward in 2011, and his Administration’s priorities for 2012, he continually came back to two key ideas: collaboration and innovation. Collaboration brings with it a sense of community, inclusion, and hope for the future. With innovation, Michigan can creatively improve upon what is already great or throw out the bad. These are indeed keys to a successful future in Michigan and keystones to the good governance Gov. Snyder also advocates.

But you can’t talk about collaboration with just these two sectors (business and government) while ignoring the impact of nonprofits on many of the metrics on the MiDashboard. By including nonprofits at the table of this discussion from the beginning, alongside elected officials and businesses, Gov. Snyder would not only see a broader, more complete view of the impacts of his proposals, but also a better solution to the problems he has identified.

While Snyder’s agenda was positive and avoided controversy, he can no longer ignore the growing importance of nonprofits that are integral to achieving many of his goals for 2012. By championing his own values of collaboration and innovation, the state, nonprofits, and other key players can work together to achieve the desired results of a healthy and prosperous Michigan.

Submitted by Michelle Eichhorst, Public Policy Fellow for Michigan Nonprofit Association

New Year, New Language

Going through my Twitter timeline after Christmas and before New Year’s Day, I found every single list imaginable for “year-in-review” or “what-to-expect in the coming year.” One that I actually read was #nonprofitresolutions that the Chronicles of Philanthropy was running, here is the link ow.ly/8e3O4.

Two things struck me about this list: 1) the nonprofit resolution from the executive director of the The Evergreen Group, Howard Kucher. He believes that nonprofits should call themselves “social benefit organizations,” instead of by their tax status. 2) That out of the 20 nonprofit leaders that were quoted, only three called for more advocacy and organizing! I kind of feel like these two things are somehow related.

My professional background (nonprofit lobbying and advocacy, and electoral campaigns) really identified with what Mr. Kucher was getting at! A change of language can change perception, both by those who adopt the label and by those hearing it. Maybe if organizations start calling themselves “social benefit” orgs, then it will force us to think of the things we CAN and SHOULD do, i.e advocacy and lobbying, instead of the things we can’t do based on the regulations we have to follow.

By changing the labels, it also allows organizations to think beyond their charitable missions, to ones that include the economic value and contribution of the organization beyond the direct benefit to their constituents and clients. Nonprofts Social benefit organizations need to show more than how many people go through their programs; they need to also show their greater value to society. Yes, I know you fed 200K families last year, but what does that mean? How does that impact the community that I live in?

Maybe by changing the language we use, the sector will finally start advocating and lobbying. It is a new year, so a girl can dream…

Submitted by Christina Kuo, Senior Director of Public Policy and Public Affairs for Michigan Nonprofit Association

I WILL: Part Two

This year for 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance MNA and its affiliates will be taking part in service projects on September 9, 2011. Although we know many are taking their own personal time to volunteer and remember, it is important to us as an organization to give back and remember in three distinct ways:

1. Purchase and collect supplies to include in care packages to send to our troops overseas. MNA is doing this through U.S. Troop Care Package and calling upon its affiliates, partners, and other organizations to take part in this collection.
2. MNA staff will be leading and participating in a Community Conversation specifically designed for 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
3. Each employee will be given the opportunity to fill out an “I WILL” card. Here they can pledge the number of hours they plan to volunteer in the coming year.

Has your organization registered their project yet? If not, head to www.911day.org to register and find useful resources such as toolkits, logos, and teaching tools to help make your project a success!

add to del.icio.us    add to blinkslist    add to furl    digg this    add to ma.gnolia    stumble it!    add to simpy    seed the vine    add to reddit    add to fark    tailrank this    post to facebook

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,384 other followers