Community Foundation, Kresge Foundation Help Form Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in Detroit, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees in California, and the Kresge Foundation in Troy have announced a new partnership called the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative. The current investment in the collaborative is $450,000 over two years.
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The Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative has been formed to coordinate refugee and immigrant support services in the region. // Stock photo

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in Detroit, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees in California, and the Kresge Foundation in Troy have announced a new partnership called the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative. The current investment in the collaborative is $450,000 over two years.

“Organizations serving refugees and immigrants are facing increased financial pressures due to decreases in federal assistance and the growing need for supporting these members of our community,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation. “The goal of the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Collaborative is to provide a coordinated, philanthropic effort to support immigrant- and refugee-serving nonprofit organizations that address the needs of their constituents in our region.”

The collaborative was formed in response to a new report that outlines the current state and challenges facing organizations that support immigrants and refugees. There are more than 600,000 foreign-born individuals in Michigan, and 70 percent of them live in southeast Michigan.

From fiscal year 2012-fiscal year 2018, Michigan was the fourth-largest state in the country for refugee acceptance since 2012, behind Texas, California, and New York. The number of refugees entering Michigan has declined by 85.7 percent since fiscal year 2016.

According to the report, the four main issues facing foreign-born individuals in southeast Michigan are a lack of access to services, including affordable housing, health care, employment, transportation, and more; poor public perception, as refugees and immigrants are often viewed through a narrow economic perspective; insufficient funding in support services; and a lack of strategic funding focus – foundations in the region have a history of supporting services for the state’s foreign-born population, but there has been no regional effort to coordinate strategies to date.

The study was produced by Public Sector Consultants and supported by the Community Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Skillman Foundation and provides data about local, state, and federal funding for nonprofits that serve southeast Michigan’s foreign-born populations; analyzes the nonprofits that are taking on this work; and surveys and interviews key stakeholders and thought leaders to assess the region’s ability to address needs.

Federal funds given to Michigan through the Refugee Cash Assistance program and the Refugee Medical Assistance program have declined, and so has the number of refugees receiving funds under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. In response to these drops in funding to the state from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the need to secure funding for social services and assistance has increased.

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, a national philanthropy support organization, coordinates a network of more than 20 similar collaboratives across the U.S., providing technical assistance and national matching funds. This effort, called the Delivering on the Dream initiative, brings together local funders to support immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers with services, address the effects of policy changes and inflammatory rhetoric, and create opportunities for immigrant leadership and civic engagement.

“As we witness the marginalization of immigrants in this country, it is essential that philanthropic institutions leverage their voice and resources in support of all members of their communities,” says Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers. “We applaud the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and partners for their leadership in developing this collaborative and look forward to working with all partners to strengthen community ties and resources.”

The collaborative will work with stakeholders and community members to determine the most impactful way to provide support in the coming months.

The Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization that has distributed more than $1.1 billion through more than 69,000 grants to nonprofit organizations in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties.

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 and helps strengthen pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities. It invests more than $160 million each year.

The full report is available here.

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