COVID-19 Update: Pistons and Flagstar Bank Launch Pistons IPO, AMT Medical Group Opens PPE Facility in Fraser, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Detroit Pistons and Flagstar Bank Launch Pistons IPO Season Ticket Promotion
The Detroit Pistons and Flagstar Bank have teamed up on a new season ticket promotion called “Pistons IPO: Initial Pistons Offering” where fans placing deposits on 2020-21 season ticket packages from now through Oct. 31 can earn up to 5 percent Annual Percentage Yield on their season ticket investment through Dec. 31.

The new season ticket promotion is the first of its kind in the NBA. Fans participating in the “Pistons IPO” program will earn money back from their deposit through interest paid on a Flagstar Bank certificate of deposit (CD) account between the date of a new season ticket purchase and Dec. 31.  Eligible season ticket products include full-season, half-season, and 10-game packages.

“We are excited to work with our partners at Flagstar Bank in creating an innovative season ticket promotion that provides a money-making opportunity for Pistons fans purchasing new season tickets while accounting for the fluidity of today’s sports landscape,” says Mike Zavodsky, chief business officer for the Detroit Pistons. “While we all eagerly await the safe return of fans to our games next season, your season ticket deposit will work for you and accrue funds that can be used at a later date.”

How the program works:

  • Fans can sign up and purchase an eligible new season ticket package under the “Pistons IPO” promotion by contacting a Pistons ticket representative at 313-PISTONS.
  • Participating fans will be contacted by a banking representative from the nearest Flagstar Bank branch to open a CD (certificate of deposit) and a Flagstar checking account.
  • The Pistons will place the new season ticket purchase funds into the Flagstar account designated by the fan purchasing an eligible season ticket package.
  • Every month through Dec. 31, interest earned on the CD will be placed into the Flagstar checking account associated with the purchaser of tickets for the new season.

“This is a great win for Pistons fans,” says Matt Allen, chief marketing officer at Flagstar Bank. “It’s an opportunity for them to get a lock on Pistons season tickets, while experiencing first-hand the value and benefits of being a Flagstar customer. We have a lot of pride in the way we get to know customers and put solutions within their reach. We’re pleased to team up with the Pistons to bring fans these accounts we think they’ll love.”

To be eligible for the “Pistons IPO” promotion, all season tickets must be paid in full.  No additional funds can be deposited into the initial CD and the plan is not available for businesses.

For more information, visit here.

AMT Medical Group Opens Fraser Facility Capable of Producing PPE
Birmingham-based AMT Medical Group has opened a new, 22,825-square-foot PPE manufacturing and distribution facility at 34480 Commerce Drive in Fraser, strengthening its footprint within several major supply chain and logistical thoroughfares in metro Detroit.

“This new location will help us serve our clients as a reliable resource for strategic PPE manufacturing that’s Made in USA and produced by our American workforce from high-quality materials,” says Matthew Thatcher, co-founder of AMT Medical Group. “This provides the unique ability for our team to retain full supply chain control for our customers — meaning we’re able to deliver products to them in days, not weeks.”

To address shortfalls and disruptions felt during the procurement, manufacturing, and delivery of PPE, AMT Medical Group will utilize the increased capacity at the new facility to ramp up in-house manufacturing and distribution of CDC- and FDA-compliant medical-grade products, including:

  • Isolation gowns: 2,500 produced per day.
  • Eze Kleen Sanitizer Stands: 750 produced per day.
  • Aoxing three-ply face masks: 2,000,000 produced per day.
  • Face shields: 1,200 produced per day.
  • Foot-operated door handles.

AMT Medical Group’s customers include health care and research facilities, first responders, assisted living facilities, schools, and universities, veterinary centers, urgent care, and more. The company also serves as a procurement and supplier resource for several other critical PPE items recommended for businesses under local and federal guidelines, including:

  • N95 face masks.
  • Five-layer KN95 Face masks.
  • Plexiglas dividers.
  • Surgical gloves.
  • WHO-grade hand sanitizer solution.

Foundations Band Together to Develop the Michigan Justice Fund, Award $520,000 in Grants
A group of local and national organizations has come together to develop the Michigan Justice Fund, an initiative designed to address inequities in the criminal justice system throughout the state.

As its first course of action, a total of $520,000 in grants is being distributed through the fund to 26 organizations across the state. Grant recipients were invited to participate in the Michigan Justice Fund Learning Cohort. Each participant received a one-time $20,000 general operating grant to support participation. A complete list of grantees and participants is available here.

The Michigan Justice Fund was established in early 2020 in partnership with the Hudson-Webber Foundation to assist groups working to advance effective and equitable justice policy. As a fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Justice Fund primarily seeks to help stem the flow of individuals into the criminal justice system.

The fund supports the investment of public dollars to community-driven alternatives to incarceration and also ensures that those returning home after incarceration receive the support they need to flourish.

“As demands to address racial injustice have increased in communities across the country, the need for large-scale justice reform has never been more pressing,” says Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation. “These grants are intended to support the leadership of people of color-led organizations on the frontlines of justice reform, while also helping strengthen capacity of organizations seeking to advance effective justice policy and practice throughout Michigan.”

Participating funders of the Michigan Justice Fund are the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, Ford Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, the Justice and Mobility Fund, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Input from learning cohort members will help the Michigan Justice Fund develop a strategic grantmaking plan for supporting a thriving environment in Michigan necessary to advance justice reform initiatives. Additionally, the input will help serve as a vision for how safety and justice efforts can be supported in the state beyond the life of the fund.

For more information on the Michigan Justice Fund, visit here.

Report: Most Michigan School Districts Will Offer Some In-person Instruction
Of Michigan’s 823 school districts that provided Return-to-Learn plans, 86 percent will offer some or all instruction in person at the beginning of the school year, according to a new report from the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Additionally, the report found that 59 percent of Michigan school districts are offering students at least the option to return to school five days a week, and 27 percent of districts are providing students with the ability to return to school at least two to three days a week.

Researchers from EPIC collaborated with the Michigan Department of Education to read, analyze and code contents of 823 Return-to-Learn plans submitted by Michigan school districts as of Aug. 17, which represent 99 percent of all 832 traditional and charter school districts in the state.

The study identified the various modes of instruction districts are planning to provide to begin the school year: fully in-person, fully remote/online, or a hybrid.

“There are regional patterns in districts’ reopening,” says Katharine Strunk, EPIC faculty director and professor of education policy in MSU’s College of Education. “For instance, districts in Contained Phase 5 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan are more likely to offer fully in-person or the option for in-person schooling. By contrast, over a quarter of districts in the Lansing region plan to offer all instruction remotely, and districts in the Detroit region are twice as likely as districts across the state to offer hybrid instruction.”

State Superintendent Michael Rice says districts must craft and implement plans that best serve the needs of their individual communities.

“Even schools and districts that are largely educating children at a distance may still provide in-school instruction for small groups of children with profound special needs, beginning English language learners, emerging or fledgling readers and others who will struggle with remote or virtual instruction,” says Rice. “We must do what we can, where and when we can, to meet the needs of our most educationally vulnerable students. These young people require our special reflection and attention.”

Ford to Deliver 10M Masks to At-risk Communities Across the U.S.
Ford Motor Co.’s Project Apollo, in cooperation with Ford Motor Co. Fund, is launching a community donation program that will initially deliver 10 million masks to at-risk communities across the U.S. with limited access to personal protective equipment.

Project Apollo – Ford’s codename for its efforts to PPE, including respirators, face shields, medical gowns, plus ventilators for COVID-19 patients – has improved its ability to build medical-grade masks and is now manufacturing more than the company needs to keep its employees safe.

Ford Motor Co. Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, is engaging its network of nonprofit partners, state and local officials, schools, and community groups to mobilize and distribute 10 million masks to help fill the needs of hospitals, businesses, and communities across the United States.

“Protecting the health of students, families, workers, and others at risk in our communities is the top priority as we continue to fight back against this unprecedented pandemic,” says Mary Culler, president, Ford Motor Co. Fund. “We are proud to add these masks to our ongoing community support, knowing we are at our best when we all come together to help.”

Masks are being sent to select cities and states with Ford plant locations, as well as other organizations around the country. Recipients for the 10 million masks have been identified and distribution has already started. Additional donations will be made as mask production increases through the end of the year. Decisions on those recipients will be made later. Ford plans to leverage its dealer network where possible once manufacturing ramps up.

Among the first groups to receive masks are:

  • African American communities in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York.
  • Disabled American Veterans.
  • Food banks and organizations providing food to individuals and families will receive masks to keep volunteers and clients safe.
  • American Red Cross.
  • Schools including students at historically Black colleges and universities and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
  • Southeast Michigan.
  • State of Michigan.

Annual Detroit Jazz Festival Streaming Live Labor Day Weekend
The 41st Annual Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, the largest free jazz festival in the world, will take place be on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7, as a broadcast and streamed event only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will be broadcast and streamed in its entirety for free on the following outlets:

  • Facebook Live @DetroitJazzFestival
  • Instagram @DetroitJazzFest
  • YouTube Detroit Jazz Festival
  • Channel 22, city of Detroit’s new arts and entertainment channel
  • WDET 101.9 FM
  • WEMU 89.1 FM
  • WRCJ 90.9 FM
  • WJBK FOX 2 via

Also, Detroit Public Television will air the Friday performance of Pharoah Sanders: Icon at 9:30 p.m.  In addition, the entire festival programming will be available on the proprietary Detroit Jazz Fest LIVE! app available on the App Store and Google Play.

For more information on the festival including the performance schedule, visit here.

Song by Police Band Has Message for America: Keep Your Faith in the Blue
Retired Detroit Police Sargent Michael Saunders has written a song to remind everyone that not all police officers are bad, and that the vast majority are hard-working and devoted and go out every day to protect the citizens of their community.

“Keep Your Faith in the Blue” features The Badges of Honor, a musical group made up of active and retired Detroit police officers and musicians, Detroit Police Chief James Craig, along with narration by local broadcast host Robert Dempster, best known as the Positive patriot.

The song is a tribute to the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect their communities.

Saunders invited Dempster to narrate the lyrics to better emphasize the true meaning and message of the song.

“I couldn’t have been more honored to be asked to do this,” says Dempster. “I’ve known a lot of police officers in my time and none of them are at all as they are being portrayed by the media today.”

The song can be played here.

Oakland University to Field Varsity Esports Teams
Oakland University has announced the members of its inaugural Division I Esports varsity teams for this fall’s League of Legends, Super Smash Bros., and Rocket League seasons.

The League of Legends team is comprised of Torin Gibbons, Walter Kealan McCutcheon, Alexander Muszynski, Dalton Rusher, Jon Schneck, and Endrit Zenuni.

The three Super Smash Bros. team members are Kedan Butler, Austin Kujawa, and Devin Lucas.

The Rocket League recruiting class consists of Edward Azzam, Justin Janulewicz, Matthew Leuker, Billy Sawyer, and Seth Tison.

Coach Carl Leone hosted tryouts for the inaugural Esports teams in June with more than 50 players competing for roster spots.

Oakland’s Esports teams will benefit from a relationship with Team Renegades, a professional Esports team based in Auburn Hills, for practice and competition space.

American Lung Association Announces Plan to End Youth Vaping
The American Lung Association has announced a plan to end youth vaping, which harms developing lungs and overall health, and may place people at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“As the school year resumes, more students may experience social pressure to vape, while others may begin to vape in response to stress, including stress related to COVID-19,” says Lance Boucher, division senior director of the American Lung Association. “We’re already facing what the surgeon general refers to as a youth vaping epidemic. Our communities need support, and as the nation’s trusted champion of lung health, the American Lung Association is proud to offer Michigan schools, parents, and students proven approaches to end youth vaping in our communities and state.”

According to the CDC, 21 percent of Michigan high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019.

The association’s plan to end youth vaping encompasses education, advocacy, and research, and has four components.

The “Get Your Head Out of the Cloud” public awareness campaign with the Ad Council equips parents with the facts about e-cigarettes and support conversations before kids start to vape. The campaign includes free educational resources and guides, conversation starters, and facts about vaping at

A Vape-Free Schools Initiative to help school administrators and educators address the surge of youth vaping through guidance in implementing a comprehensive tobacco use policy, an alternative to suspension program for students found non-compliant with existing tobacco use policies, as well as offering a voluntary youth-centered tobacco cessation, including vaping cessation assistance, for youth wanting to quit tobacco use for good. Participating schools will be recognized as part of the American Lung Association Vape-Free Schools Initiative in their communities and with parents and staff.

A local targeted advocacy plan to eliminate the sale of flavored tobacco products and increasing funding for tobacco prevention and control programs.

A research investment of $2 million to understand the effects of vaping on developing lungs.

The organization also is partnering with Northwestern Medicine in a $25 million National Institutes of Health-funded grant to study the longitudinal lung health of millennials, including the long-term impact of vaping.

For more information, visit here.