My Metromode nonprofit series story about Champions for Change

Sometimes, issues like systemic racism can feel so deeply rooted and overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to even begin chipping away at it.

But that’s when we must remind ourselves that all journeys begin with a single step.

One step taken by Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) – a Washtenaw County-based nonprofit support organization – involved a push to diversify the boards of local nonprofits. (Of the county’s more than 2,400 hundred nonprofit organizations, fewer than 30 are led by a person of color.)
After nearly a decade of NEW’s matching and recruitment efforts, more than 200 people of color were serving on local nonprofits’ boards; but what appeared like progress on a broad scale seemed to have little substantive impact within each organization.

So a second, more recent step involved the development of NEW’s Champions for Change program, which initially aimed to cultivate and support leaders of color within the nonprofit sector.

“But once we started having meetings with stakeholders, we started to understand that if we’re really going to attempt achieving systemic change, we have to be more open and offer the program to leadership across our county,” said NEW’s relationship manager Will Jones III.

“There’s still a heavy emphasis on nonprofits, and working with leaders of color, but we’re also working with white leaders. Given the current power dynamics that are in play, if you’re not including white leaders in the conversation, you’re not going to be moving the needle forward at all.” READ THE REST HERE


My Metromode nonprofit series story about shifts in the financial landscape during the pandemic

How has the pandemic been affecting Michigan’s nonprofits, financially speaking?

Well, perhaps not surprisingly, the answer’s complicated.

“The funding landscape for this year has been as diverse as the nonprofit sector itself,” said Donna Murray-Brown, President and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

This is to say, the kind of fiscal year you’re having as a nonprofit largely depends on both the services you offer and the nature of your funding distribution.

“For organizations that were able to make a strong case to their donors that they are addressing the health, social and economic challenges of COVID-19, philanthropy has continued to be very strong,” said Steve Ragan, Executive Vice President at Hope Network, a Michigan nonprofit that provides services to people with disabilities. “In fact, it has often been earned revenue, not philanthropy, that has been hit hardest. This is especially true for hospitals, universities, arts & culture nonprofits.”

This is because, of course, these organizations haven’t been able to offer the same level of care, in-person instruction, and cultural programming that usually provides a sizable part of their revenue.

“For those that depend on fees generated from in-person engagement, … the funding landscape has been devastating,” said Murray-Brown. “ … Some had relief from the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), yet the funds have been expended, and they are feeling the stress because they need more resources.” READ THE REST HERE

My Good Housekeeping story about today’s period-positivity-embracing tweens

Earlier this year, just days shy of my daughter’s 12th birthday, I was changing her bed’s sheets when she said, in an offhand but discreet way, “Just so you know, I started my period. But it’s fine. I’m taking care of it. I’m just letting you know, because you asked me to tell you.”

Putting on my best poker face, I offered a quick hug and kiss and told her to let me know if she had any questions or needed anything — but I secretly marveled at how she’d seemingly taken this transition in stride, when my own first period experience, in the 1980s, had been shrouded in fear, confusion and shame. (You know. The kind that makes a frantic fifth grader wad up half a dozen tissues into her underpants.) 

Then, a few months after my daughter’s low-key pronouncement, two 11-year-old Girl Scouts arrived at our door and asked my husband for a donation to their Bronze Award project. They were assembling first period kits — packed with a variety of pads and tampons, starter Diva Cups (donated by the company, after the girls pled their case via Zoom) and junior-sized period underwear — for every fifth grade girl in the school district. READ THE REST HERE

My Metromode story about Farmington Civic Theater’s 80 years survival

You probably didn’t know, but one of the crown jewels of Farmington’s downtown district, the Civic Theater, quietly turned 80 on September 20th.

That seems like a pretty big milestone to go unnoticed. But because movie theaters in Michigan are still closed due to the pandemic – until October 9, as per the Governor’s recently announced executive order – Farmington’s beloved, city-owned art deco cinema has been limited to selling its chief concession, popcorn, three times a week (Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.) and giving out the occasional dog treat.

“It’s nice to see people’s faces again – well, half their faces, anyway,” says Civic Theater manager Scott Freeman. ” … A lot of people tell us they can’t wait for us to reopen. But they’ll come and get popcorn, and some people take it home, while some just walk around town and eat it. That will change as the weather changes, I’m sure.” READ THE REST HERE