DBusiness Daily Update: Pope Francis Center Receives $7M for New Housing Project, Kresge Commits $2M for Vaccine Efforts, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 18

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Pope Francis Center Receives $7M from California Foundation for New Housing Project
Detroit’s Pope Francis Center announced late Thursday that the Julia Burke Foundation in California is contributing $7 million toward a new bridge housing complex aimed at ending chronic homelessness in the city.

The $7 million donation brings the total raised to more than $15 million toward its $22 million fundraising goal for the project. The gift will enable Pope Francis Center to break ground on the housing facility as soon as a site is secured.

“We are truly humbled by the incredible generosity of the Julia Burke Foundation,” says Fr. Tim McCabe SJ, executive director of the Pope Francis Center. “Their $7 million contribution shows there is strong support for our efforts to bring an end to chronic homelessness in Detroit.”

The Julia Burke Foundation partners with organizations around the world to meet food and other immediate community needs. It also supports groups dedicated to education and social justice initiatives. Last year, the foundation funded portable shower and laundry facilities for Pope Francis Center.

“The Julia Burke Foundation invests in opportunities that enable people to lead a better life,” says Jerry Burke, co-founder of the Julia Burke Foundation. “The more we learned about the Pope Francis Center and its commitment to serving Detroit’s poor, we knew we wanted to be a part of this transformational project that will improve the lives of so many.”

Pope Francis Center is the only day center in Detroit of its kind providing services on a large scale to nearly 200 guests per day. It provides two made-from-scratch nutritious meals, laundry and shower facilities, rotating medical, dental and legal clinics, and housing assistance five days a week.

Fr. McCabe and the Pope Francis Center has pledged to end chronic homelessness in Detroit by 2030. Central to the plan is construction of a 40-unit bridge housing facility in Detroit with trauma-informed care involving intensive medical, respite, psychological, addiction, social, and job-readiness services designed to break the cycles of chronic homelessness.

In addition, staff will help guests gather documentation needed to qualify for and access permanent housing solutions. When guests are psychologically and practically ready, they will transition into permanent supportive housing.

In addition to 40 studio apartments, the facility will feature a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, classrooms, and health clinic. It also will include an outdoor shelter area with heated sidewalks and overhead radiant heaters for those who have normalized homelessness and struggle to come indoors. This space will provide individuals with a safe place to begin building trusting relationships and start imagining something different for themselves.

Kresge Commits $2M for Vaccine Efforts, Health Equity in Detroit
The Kresge Foundation has announced $1 million to bolster vaccine access and health equity through Detroit’s community health centers, community development organizations, and human service agencies. The foundation also is committing an additional $1 million in vaccination support grants in Detroit in the coming weeks.

“COVID-19 is not over, especially in Black and Brown communities,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of the Kresge Foundation’s Detroit Program. “Community organizations are telling us that there’s more to be done to get out the word in neighborhoods that vaccines are readily available, safe, and save lives, and to help connect residents to them.

“The organizations we are supporting are trusted and familiar to Detroiters, and they will work alongside city efforts to reach residents closer to home and help us stem the resurgence of COVID-19.”

The funds announced include $600,000 targeted to federally qualified health centers, community development organizations, and human service agencies in city council districts 2 and 6 — in northwest and southwest Detroit — where testing shows the city’s highest COVID-19 case rates.

Those funds will support a variety of efforts including vaccine outreach and education and transportation to vaccine sites.  Funds will also support the organizations in connecting residents with resources for a variety of basic needs, such as food, housing and mental health services.

The 13 organizations funded include ACCESS, Advantage Health Centers, Bridging Communities, and Sinai Grace Community Development Corp.

The balance of the funds, $400,000, will support community health organizations across the city leading outreach and access efforts. Those organizations will be named in the coming weeks.

“Vaccine eligibility does not automatically ensure equitable or convenient access, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color,” says Jackson. “It is important to address our longstanding inequities in the health field at the neighborhood level.”

Additional grants of $1 million promote vaccine access and availability, including partnerships with the city of Detroit and other organizations, will be announced in the coming days and the near future.

Nationally, including the Detroit grants, The Kresge Foundation will announce at least $4.4 million to support the equitable distribution of vaccines in 2021. In 2020, the foundation committed $19 million in grants and investments to support nonprofits confronting the COIVD-19 crisis nationally and in cities across the United States.

Meijer Names Detroit Native to Lead Rivertown Market
Grand Rapids-based Meijer has named Detroit native Marcus Reliford to lead Rivertown Market, its latest neighborhood grocery store that will open later this year in Detroit’s East Jefferson Corridor.

“I grew up on the west side of Detroit as a kid, and came back recently to help give back and contribute to my community and city,” says Reliford, who lives three blocks from the retailer’s fourth small-format store. “This is our first store in downtown Detroit. There’s no one who wanted this job more than me. It feels good to be home.”

Reliford joined Meijer in September 2020 with 15 years of retail experience under his belt, working his way up from various hourly roles to store manager at retailers in Georgia and Michigan. Reliford will lead Rivertown Market for Meijer, which will focus on offering customers a grocery shopping experience similar to the retailer’s three other small-format stores: Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids, Woodward Corner Market in Royal Oak, and Capital City Market in Lansing.

At 42,000 square feet, Rivertown Market will feature an assortment of fresh food; artisan groceries; and Meijer and national brand products at low prices. Reliford previously set a goal of 2,000 local products to feature on the market’s shelves and says he has received more than1,000 item submissions so far for consideration.

Rivertown Market also will feature:

  • A flower shop, featuring local Avanti Greeting Cards.
  • A 4,700-square-foot produce department with a 52-foot wet wall.
  • Fresh and prepared foods, including bakery items, fresh meat, and deli offerings.
  • A large alcohol assortment, featuring a 24-by-14-foot liquor wall with rolling ladder.
  • Mudgie’s Deli, which is its second Detroit location.
  • A Great Lakes Coffee.
  • Health and beauty care products from local, Black women-owned businesses.
  • 23-foot ceilings with open-air elements and a pedestrian-friendly design, featuring three garage-style doors with outdoor fresh produce and floral area.

Oakland Restaurant Relief Program Delivers Nearly $2.4M in Products and Funds
Oakland County’s Oakland Together Restaurant Relief Grant has delivered 269 igloos and greenhouses, 1,022 outdoor propane heaters, 6,088 propane exchanges (20 lbs.), 868 electrostatic sprayers, and 1,683 gallons of electrostatic disinfectant to restaurants in 49 county cities, villages, and townships.

“The current surge in COVID-19 cases indicates that we all need to continue to work together to take measures to slow the spread of the virus in the community,” says David Coulter, Oakland County executive. “This equipment enables restaurants to continue to operate while ensuring a safe dining experience for customers.”

In December 2020, Oakland County allocated $3 million from the county’s general fund, to help bars and restaurants facing challenges from the state of Michigan’s three-week “pause” ordered Nov. 15. The health order limited bars and restaurants to providing outside dining, carryout and delivery service only.

Through this two-phased program, Oakland County has awarded about $2.84 million in needed products and funds to partnering cities, villages, and townships. Local communities are using these products and funds to support dine-in restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Restaurant, bar, and café owners can contact Oakland County at restaurantrelief@oakgov.com to find out what cities, villages, and townships have received awards. The program ends on June 30.

CHIME and HLTH New Digital Health Industry Event
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) in Ann Arbor and the New York-based health care platform HLTH are launching a new industry event — ViVE — March 6-9, 2022 in Miami Beach.

“The rate of change in health care today is exponentially faster than it was a decade ago,” says John Kravitz, chair of the CHIME Board of Trustees and CIO at Geisinger. “We are seeing digital innovations that are vastly improving the delivery and management of care for the communities that we serve.

“Our members are enthusiastic about the direction the industry is going and the opportunity to enrich health and care with digital technology. As an industry-leading event that will convene executive leaders from across the health and care spectrum, ViVE positions our members to lead that change.”

The ViVE 2022 experience is expected to feature:

  • Programming and specialty events with top thought leaders shaping tech-enabled healthcare and addressing key issues in digital health innovation.
  • CHIME’s signature Spring Forum providing education and networking opportunities for CHIME members and CHIME Foundation firm members.
  • The ViVE Expo that will recognize the needs of sponsors, exhibitors, and partners and deliver customized experiences in a creative setting.
  • 1-to-1 curated matchmaking, through the ViVE Hosted Buyer program that pairs digital health vendors with interested buyers.
  • Mission-driven events and giving back initiatives including the HLTH Foundation’s Techquity Impact Program, focused on realizing health equity through technology; and a gala to support the Foundation’s initiatives promoting equity, inclusion and opportunity in health care.

“With rapid digital health adoption and accelerated readiness to accept new modes of care delivery and engagement, there’s a pressing need to convene health IT executives around digital transformation,” says Jonathan Weiner, founder, chairman, and CEO of HLTH.

“ViVE was created to respond to the demand for a reimagined health technology event during this exciting and tumultuous time for healthcare and provides a complement to HLTH’s digital health innovation ecosystem event in the fall.”

Public Asked to Help Guide Michigan’s Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2050
The Michigan Office of Climate and Energy is asking the public for its insights about climate and how the state can move toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Two online public listening sessions have been scheduled, one on Earth Day, April 22, and the second on May 5.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) through its Office of Climate and Energy is charged with formulating and overseeing implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan, a roadmap to reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide, with input from the Council on Climate Solutions.

Details of the public listening sessions using the Zoom meeting platform include:

  • April 22 session, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, May 5 session, from 6-8 p.m.
  • Links to join either session are posted here.
  • Those who wish to speak should send an email to EGLE-ClimateSolutions@Michigan.gov with “Public Comment Request,” the date of the session, and name in the subject line. Those who send an email request will be allowed to speak first.
  • Members of the public who do not submit their names ahead of time will still be allowed to make a comment.
  • Each speaker will be limited to three minutes.
  • Sessions are designed to gather comments and input from the public; organizers will not answer questions posed by attendees.
  • Individuals needing language assistance or accommodations for effective participation at the listening sessions should contact Kimber Frantz at FrantzK@Michigan.gov or 517-284-5035 at least seven days before the event to request language, mobility, visual, hearing, translation and/or other assistance.

Each session will begin with an overview of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-182 that established the Council on Climate Solutions, an explanation of how it is structured, and its role in advising EGLE and OCE on the development of the MI Healthy Climate Plan.

The council’s input will be informed by the public comments at the listening sessions and guidance from five workgroups: Energy Production, Transmission, Distribution, and Storage; Buildings and Housing; Transportation and Mobility; Natural Working Lands and Forest Products; and Energy Intensive Industries.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Strengthening the Safety Net Program
Health care clinics across the state are invited to apply for grants through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Strengthening the Safety Net program. Eligible clinics can apply for grants now through June 4.

“Safety net clinics are cornerstones of the communities in which they serve and key drivers in increasing access, awareness and affordability to quality care,” says Kenneth Hayward, vice president of community relations and special assistant to the president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s social mission to increase access to health care and health equity, which can improve overall health outcomes, reduce disparities and lower health costs, remains a priority focus. Providing safety net clinics grants for necessary care and services is just one way we together move the needle in creating a healthier Michigan.”

Applicants may apply for a grant to support clinic operations or services as a medical home.

  1. Clinic operations – Safety net clinics that provide episodic care, are open for limited hours and treat more than 100 uninsured and underinsured patients annually are eligible to apply for up to $15,000 to support their operations, including clinical and patient navigation services.
  2. Medical and dental homes – Clinics that serve as medical or dental homes and are open for at least 30 hours per week, or bill Medicaid, are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 to support team-based care, including clinical and patient navigation services. Awards at this level require a $10,000 match.

Final award amounts will be based on the number of applications received, the scope of applications submitted, and the amount of funding available. All materials must be submitted by the online application form, which is accessible here.

Leaf and Bud Opening Flagship Medical Provisioning Center April 20
Leaf and Bud Provisioning Center, located on Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion (Livernois), will be opening its doors to provide cannabis remedies to medical marijuana patients on April 20.

Located at 14470 Livernois Ave., the provisioning center is the only operating center in the area around University of Detroit Mercy, south of the Lodge (M10) and north of I-96 and the Davidson Freeway.

“It has been an incredible journey to bring Leaf and Bud to the Detroit community,” says Mark Savaya, proprietor of Leaf and Bud Provisioning Center.

The bright green building, visible from Livernois, originally was a distribution hub for the former Farmer Jack grocery store chain.

“There is a definite need for great cannabis in the area,” says Savaya. “While many operating provisioning centers are located on Eight Mile, we decided to set up our cannabis complex in a district that doesn’t have a lot of access to cannabis. I am investing in the entire community, bringing in jobs and services, not just cannabis.”

Grand Opening activities will begin at around 10 a.m. on April 20. Savaya says food trucks and live music will be going on all day.

Future Grow Solutions, with the CropTower growing system, provides the product for the Leaf and Bud brand, grown and processed onsite by experienced professionals using only premium nutrients and little to no fungicides or pesticides, according to the company.

Leaf and Bud Provisioning Center will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for people with a valid Michigan medical marijuana card. For more information, visit here.

‘Great Estate & Gardens Tour’ Joins Meadow Brook Hall’s Lineup
Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester add more tour options to its lineup this spring.

In addition to the Self-Guided House Tour that became available to guests over the winter, the National Historic Landmark now will offer the Guided Behind-the-Scenes Tour and the all-new Great Estate & Gardens Tour, beginning April 24.

“There is so much to explore at Meadow Brook Hall and we are very excited to bring more guests through our gates this spring,” says Shannon O’Berski, director of external relations at Meadow Brook Hall. “Our three tour options will provide something for everyone, whether you prefer to peruse the estate at your own pace, learn more about the hidden areas of the hall or enjoy a stroll through our incredible gardens.

“On weekends, we are also opening up the remarkable playhouses — Knole Cottage and Danny’s Cabin — for guests to venture further across the estate.”

Located on the campus of Oakland University, the National Historic Landmark will be open to the public for the following:

  • The Self-Guided House Tour takes visitors through all three levels of the house at their own pace with special insight from a new visitor app. It will run Fridays-Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with last admittance at 3 p.m.
  • The Guided Behind-The-Scenes tour takes visitors on a journey to rarely-seen areas of Meadow Brook, including staff wings, bathrooms, closets, playrooms and even the China Vault that includes vintage liquor from the Prohibition-era. The tour will run at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • The Guided Great Estate & Gardens Tour introduces visitors to Meadow Brook’s expansive grounds and remarkable architecture. This outdoor experience will enchant visitors of all ages with stories of how the historic home came to be. The tour will be offered at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission prices vary based on the tour and day of the week. Tickets range from $10-18 per adult, $7-13 for seniors aged 62 and over, and $5-10 for children aged 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Tickets are available online in advance here.

Guests must wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and maintain physical distancing by staying 6 feet apart from others. For more information and updates about Meadow Brook’s response to COVID-19, visit here.

Meadow Brook Hall, constructed between 1926 and 1929, is the historic home built by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson.

U-M’s Clements Library Receives Grant to Digitize Revolutionary War Documents
The University of Michigan William L. Clements Library in Ann Arbor has been awarded a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize one of its largest and most utilized collections.

The funds will support a three-year effort to digitize more than 23,000 items related to Thomas Gage, a British commander-in-chief in the early days of the American Revolution who also was governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1774 to 1775.

“Multiplying modes of access to our collections is one of our primary goals,” says Paul Erickson, the Randolph G. Adams Director of the Clements Library. “We will always remain committed to welcoming the many scholars who travel to Ann Arbor from around the world to do research in the Clements Library, but we are also committed to making it possible for people anywhere in the world to study landmark collections like the Gage papers.”

A premier destination for the study of 18th and 19th century American history, the Clements Library’s archive is particularly strong in their papers and artifacts related to the American Revolution.

“The Gage papers, which are one of the crown jewels of the Clements Library, have been studied by generation after generation of historians,” says Cheney Schopieray, curator of manuscripts at the Clements and project director. “They contain extraordinary documentation of colonial America through the paperwork of the highest echelons of British administration in the colonies during the tumultuous years leading up to the Revolutionary War.”

According to Schopieray, though there are materials related to the French and Indian War, the majority of the collection focuses on the years between 1763 and 1775. It includes handwritten letters, documents, journals, financial records, military orders, and more.

“When you think of the flashpoints leading up to the American Revolution and our independence — it’s all here,” he says. “There are materials on British-Native American relations, responses to the 1765 Stamp Act and nonimportation agreements, eyewitness accounts of the Boston Massacre, draft orders by Thomas Gage for the Concord Expedition — which led to the opening shots of the war — and so much more.”

In addition to the Gage manuscripts, the Clements Library also is home to papers of other high-ranking British officials of that era, including Prime Minister William Petty 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Gen. Henry Clinton, Secretary of State George Germain, Undersecretary William Knox, as well as patriots such as one of George Washington’s most effective officers, Nathanael Greene, among others.

The library’s project was one of 225 awarded nationwide to support the preservation of historic collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research and curriculum projects through the NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access.

Audiences can expect to be able to view parts of the digitized collection via their online finding aid as progress is made over the course of the grant. The complete collection is expected to be available by May 2024, with support from the U-M Library’s Digital Content and Collections service.

Devon’s Mackinac Island Fudge Moves Operation to New St. Ignace Facility
Devon’s Mackinac Island Fudge, Taffy, and Popcorn has moved its manufacturing and warehousing operations from Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula to 1114 N State St. in St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.

The move was necessary to accommodate the more than 100 percent growth the company has experienced in the past two years. Two retail locations in Mackinaw City will remain open and new retail locations are planned for St. Ignace in upcoming years.

The move will allow the company to meet the growing demand for all of its products as well as spur the local economy by creating job opportunities. At least 30 employees are needed all year. Devon’s Mackinac Island products are sold in more than 30 states, including Alaska.

Besides fudge, taffy, and popcorn varieties, Devon’s Mackinac Island Fudge Co. also offers other Michigan-made items in its retail stores only.

“We made the move to St. Ignace because our growth demanded that we have more space for manufacturing, warehousing, and packaging of our products,” says Darren Anderson, owner of Devon’s Mackinac Island Fudge Co. “The larger facility will allow us to keep up with the growing demand. In 2019 we made the decision to move operations to St. Ignace and it was finalized earlier in the spring.

“By early May we should be fully up to speed. We sold the Mackinaw City manufacturing and warehousing location. Despite all the different flavors of fudge and popcorn we make, our best sellers are still plain chocolate fudge and plain caramel corn.”

Baker College Announces Plans for Fall 2021 Return to Campus
All in-person classes and lab courses will resume in-full, and on-campus housing will be open to student residents, at all Baker College campuses across Michigan for the new academic year, which begins Aug. 23.

The decision for a full return-to-campus at the Owosso-based Baker College was announced by Jacqui Spicer, COO and head of the Baker’s Pandemic Response Team.

The Baker College return-to-campus plan incorporates its Michigan campus locations in: Auburn Hills, Cadillac, Jackson, Muskegon, and Owosso, as well as Baker’s extension site programs at the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Port Huron and Muskegon and the Auto Diesel Institute in Owosso.

Prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, the plan will continue to follow the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC on preventive health measures, including face coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Baker College will not require anyone to receive a vaccine. Believing it is in the best interest of everyone in its campus communities, however, leadership is strongly encouraging all faculty, staff, and students to get vaccinated when eligible.  Additionally, in partnership with Rite Aid, Baker College is currently offering on-campus vaccination clinic sites exclusively for Baker students and staff.

“We look forward to welcoming our faculty, staff and students back to campus for the start of the fall semester,” says Bart Daig, president of Baker College. “As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to progress in our state and throughout local communities, we are cautiously optimistic about returning to relative normalcy this fall. That said, we will remain vigilant and flexible in our planning, with the health and safety of our students and staff as priority one.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and the calendar moves closer to the start of the fall semester, Baker College will provide additional information and any updates to its return to campus plan.  Developments will be available here.

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