Foundations help set agenda at Mackinac Policy Conference

April 14, 2019

Crain’s Detroit Business

Sherri Welch

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At this year’s conference set for May 28-31, foundations are hosting — that is, sponsoring and presenting — six of nine sessions on the agenda.

That’s up from five the past two years, four in 2014, two in 2013 and just one in 2012: by the Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Even more foundations (and others) would come in, if there were space on the agenda and at the Grand Hotel, chamber COO Tammy Carnrike said.

Kellogg is returning to this year’s conference along with Kresge Foundation, Skillman Foundation, C.S. Mott Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and the William Davidson Foundation, a newcomer to the hosted sessions in 2019.

Like other sessions at the conference, the foundation-hosted events align with the conference pillars.

This year’s conference theme, “One Michigan,” will focus on the pillars “prepare, grow and love.”

More specifically, sessions will focus on education and talent development/retention, entrepreneurial and economic development and stewardship and sustainability of the resources, industries and other assets Michigan currently has.

Foundations use the sessions as a forum to release new studies and research, explore topics of regional and statewide importance and leverage their connections to feature national speakers on important topics, Carnrike said, sponsoring programs that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

“They have the ability to see where there are other experts they can bring in from other areas of the country (and) where other regions are doing well and bring those experts in to share their experience and their best practice.”

The foundation hosts contribute to valuable conversation, attracting standing-room only crowds to their sessions due to strong content and speakers, Carnrike said.

Given that, the chamber has invited them to help plan the conference and to take part in mainstage programs, Carnrike said.

For example, Skillman President and CEO Tonya Allen will participate in a panel discussion on boosting education excellence in Michigan.

Government is at the conference to speak out from a policy standpoint and business to speak on economic issues, Carnrike said.

“To have the philanthropic community … be there to say, ‘We are also part of the solution, here’s the work we do and resources we’re bringing to it’ … really helps solidify what gets discussed in their sessions.”

Foundations and other hosts are still finalizing topics for their sessions, but three have working themes, said Kelly Weatherwax, director of communications for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Those are:

  • C.S. Mott Foundation will focus on transforming municipal funding.
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation will focus on the 2020 Census.
  • William Davidson Foundation’s session will focus on the Detroit region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

View the full article here.

$450,000 Kresge Foundation Grant will Support Programs to Improve College Readiness, Access and Success

Last week, the Detroit Regional Chamber received a $450,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation to launch a comprehensive plan and campaign to increase postsecondary education attainment in Southeast Michigan.

The three-year grant supports the Chamber’s Forward Detroit strategy to create and sustain an educated, employed and healthy workforce in the 11-county Detroit region. Increasing the number of adults with postsecondary degrees is a goal of Detroit Drives Degrees, a Forward Detroit initiative.

In a joint release, Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson said, “We want to help Detroit fulfill its workforce needs using its own homegrown talent. Detroiters are hungry for the opportunity to get to work, and this initiative will help ensure they’re equipped with the skills, education and credentials required to do just that. We know a postsecondary education is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to move into the economic mainstream, and we’re proud to partner with the Chamber to help more Detroiters and people from across the region get that education.”

The Chamber will work with the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council, led by Co-chairs Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Richard Rassel, chairman of Butzel Long, to designate regionwide improvement goals on key attainment metrics. The plan will address each stage of the talent development pipeline including: college readiness, college access, college success and transition to the workforce.

The Chamber thanks The Kresge Foundation for its confidence and support in Forward Detroit’s mission. This grant is a big step in helping the Chamber achieve its goal of increasing the number of individuals with postsecondary degrees from 43 to 60 percent by 2025.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Harris at mharris@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

The Kresge Foundation Grants $450,000 to Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation to Improve College Readiness, Access and Success

The Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation today announce new funding to launch a comprehensive plan and campaign to increase postsecondary education attainment in Southeast Michigan. The $450,000 grant from Kresge will urgently address a crisis, as part of the Chamber’s Forward Detroit regional economic development and competitiveness strategy.

Under the Chamber’s direction, the Detroit Drives Degrees Education Compact represents a collective commitment by leaders in education, business, philanthropy, government and the nonprofit community to address an ongoing barrier to economic development – the lack of residents without higher education credentials or college degrees compared to peer regions across the country. Increasing the number of students who remain enrolled and graduate from a college or university is a key focus of Detroit Drives Degrees, a program started by the Chamber in 2015 to increase college attendance and, ultimately, graduation.

According to Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, 73 percent of the region’s high school graduates enroll in college within 12 months of graduating but only 35 percent of those graduates earn a degree or credential within six years. The majority of high schools in the city of Detroit have graduating classes with less than 10 percent of students going on to earn a four-year credential, impacting the entire region.

“The Kresge Foundation’s grant allows the Chamber to both develop and implement a strategic blueprint to bolster postsecondary attainment throughout the region. Philanthropic partners like Kresge play a key role in helping us reach our goal of increasing individuals with postsecondary degrees from 43 to 60 percent by 2025,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.

“We want to help Detroit fulfill its workforce needs using its own homegrown talent,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “Detroiters are hungry for the opportunity to get to work, and this initiative will help ensure they’re equipped with the skills, education and credentials required to do just that. We know a postsecondary education is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to move into the economic mainstream, and we’re proud to partner with the Chamber to help more Detroiters and people from across the region get that education.”

The Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council, led by Co-chairs Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Richard Rassel, chairman of Butzel Long, represent 35 cross-sectional leaders from the business, government and academic sectors throughout the region and will serve as signatories for the Compact.

During the next three years, the Chamber will work with the Leadership Council to designate regionwide improvement goals on key attainment metrics and will regularly track and publicize progress on these goals. The Detroit Drives Degrees Compact will address each stage of the talent development pipeline: college readiness, college access, college success and transition to the workforce.

The following will serve as key milestones in the development of the plan:

  • Publish an inaugural “State of Education” report to assess the Detroit region’s education ecosystem.
  • Develop and ratify benchmarks, which will form the basis of the Detroit Drives Degrees Compact. 
  • Cultivate public awareness and continued accountability for achieving the annual benchmarks through media, events and grassroots outreach.
  • Identify and implement key strategies to promote student success through the guidance of regional higher education institutions and other partner organizations.

Kresge’s support comes from its national Education Program and its Detroit Program.