Collaboration: Expanding Our Networks to Promote Public Health, Civic Change, and the Arts

In REPORT Newsletter,Yearbook

This story originally appeared in our 2020 Yearbook

One of the Community Foundation’s core strengths has always been its ability to bring people together.

For 35 years, we have served as a regional collaborator, connecting nonprofit organizations, other foundations, and local thought-leaders to tackle some of the most urgent issues faced by our community.

Throughout 2019, we built upon that strength and expanded upon it by connecting with new funders both in and outside of our seven-county region in carefully planned, strategic ways.

For the first time, through the Michigan Opioid Partnership, the Community Foundation worked beyond the southeast Michigan region to combat the statewide opioid crisis with support from the State of Michigan and numerous additional funders.

In 2019, the Community Foundation continued the Partnership’s three-year-long initiative by making eight grants to support systemic change in hospital systems and prisons across the state in how those with opioid use disorder are served.

At year-end 2019, $4 million in grants had been committed to pilot projects designed to combat opioid use disorder through treatment and sustained recovery. Groups receiving funding through the Partnership in 2019 included Spectrum Health in Kent County, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, and County of Muskegon for a new opioid use disorder treatment program at the Muskegon County Jail.

In addition to working statewide, starting in 2019, the Community Foundation also expanded our local place-based work.

For example, we began working closely with community members in the city of Pontiac on a place-based support strategy through the Pontiac Funders Collaborative.

Through a collective impact model, the Community Foundation has supported regular convenings of a cross-section of 40 leaders from Pontiac. Together, they have collected and developed feedback designed to build a shared, community-driven vision for the city to achieve systemic change and thrive.

The financial support and active participation of many foundations and corporations made this collaboration possible, including Ballmer Group, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Flagstar Bank Foundation, General Motors, New Economy Initiative, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Tauber Family Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, and the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation.

As part of another new collaboration, in 2019, the Community Foundation brought together Detroit’s theatre groups for the first time through Staging Change Detroit.

In partnership with the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation, the program convened members of 10 professional theatre organizations in Detroit – most of whom had never met before – to work as a cohort to network and develop strategies to grow Detroit’s theatre scene. Program participants have been working together to establish a sense of community amidst the evolving arts landscape. This has been helpful in developing innovative events and earned revenue sources, as well as new audience connections.

As we learned in 2019 – and continue to learn in 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic – no issue can be resolved by a single entity. We are more powerful when we work together.

As a regional philanthropic leader, we are proud to serve as a collaborator, bringing people together under a common goal to improve our community now and in the future.

See how you can support these collaborations