The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announces vision for Nonprofit Support Center

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced its plans to develop and pilot a yet-to-be-named center focused on nonprofit support, located at the corner of Woodward Av-enue and East Grand Boulevard in the New Center/North End neighborhood of Detroit.Driven by the foundation’s grantmaking focus in nonprof-it support and innovation, the Center will offer a physical space and hub for nonprofit leaders and practitioners to gather and have access to a connected and well-informed network of resources aimed at accelerating solutions around the mission-related and sec-tor-based issues they face.“It’s our vision that the cen-ter will build greater capacity and enhance capabilities within the organizations that we work with,” said David Egner, presi-dent and CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “Over time, we also plan to add innovative problem-solving practices in the center to assist nonprofits and social innovators in devel-oping new approaches and de-livery systems to address chal-lenges in our region.”After more than a year of re-search and conversations with nonprofit leaders and support organizations, the founda-tion learned that while many nonprofit resources exist in Southeast Michigan, there is often a lack of coordination and awareness around them. At the same time, nonprofit leaders expressed a desire to connect with more peers and experts across different fields, which this physical space will allow to happen. The foundation also reviewed a number of national models and consulted with na-tional experts to construct this place-based model.The PartnersTo lead the overall manage-ment and day-to-day opera-tions of the Center, the foun-dation recently approved a three-year grant for $4,750,000 to TechTown. While TechTown is known as Detroit’s hub for entrepreneurs, its leadership and staff have more than 20 years of experience in building communities and networks of individuals to serve entrepre-neurs and innovators in the pri-vate sector and social impact arenas.“TechTown’s leadership and team have demonstrated adapt-ability and proven the value of activating a physical space de-voted to fostering idea-sharing, education and network-build-ing,” said Egner.Drawing on this experience, TechTown will recruit and hire staff to manage the Center, which will include overseeing the operations, event planning, communications and market-ing. It will also apply its proven practices within the nonprofit community and coordinate a networked delivery system of strategic services and resourc-es for nonprofits, leveraging its close partnership with Wayne State University.“Nonprofits, like entre-preneurs, need support to grow strategically and try new things,” said Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown and vice president for econom-ic development at Wayne State. “Our job will be to help connect them to the right people and the right resources so they can deepen their impact, building a stronger regional nonprofit net-work in the process.”Through a grant of $315,000, the Michigan Nonprofit As-sociation (MNA) will work as a key partner focused on the center’s capacity building ser-vices, including nonprofit as-sessments, resource referrals informed by their current net-work of expert providers, and case management. MNA has relationships with more than 4,000 nonprofits, and a suite of tools and practices to help non-profits become more efficient and effective at delivering on their mission. MNA’s staff will also schedule planned “office hours” as part of this work and will serve as a strategic partner as the center’s service concept continues to evolve and grow.“Boosting the capabilities of a nonprofit can make a world of difference in helping to advance the work in their communities. We are excited to be a key part-ner in this innovative vision to meet the needs of Southeast Michigan,” said Donna Mur-ray-Brown, president and CEO, Michigan Nonprofit Associa-tion.In addition to these grant-ees, the foundation has con-tracted with Community Wealth Partners, a national expert in capacity and network building, to help with further planning and development to bring the center concept to life. Through facilitation with partner orga-nizations and concept review, Community Wealth Partners will provide a third-party per-spective, insight into best prac-tices and suggestions for con-tinuous improvement.“Nonprofits in the Detroit region are trying to solve large, complex problems. To do so effectively, they need better ac-cess to each other and to cut-ting-edge tools and resources,” said Sara Brenner, president at Community Wealth Partners. “We are committed to help the foundation and its partners co-create a model that enables nonprofits to learn from each Molina Healthcare of Michigan hosted its sec-ond annual Molina HOPE Winter Coat Giveaway at Second Ebenezer Church on Saturday, Dec. 2, to celebrate the conclusion of its nine-week coat drive. As a result of donations from the general public and partner organizations, the coat drive generated over 4,000 new coats.Molina employees and volunteers from Sec-ond Ebenezer Church distributed the coats to individuals who pre-registered, along with the general public, on a first-come, first-served ba-sis. The event was free and open to the public.Other activities available for children and their families to enjoy included free scarves, hats and gloves distributed by Magna International, which also donated $80,000 to the coat drive.Participants also enjoyed: refreshments, free haircuts, arts, crafts and Dr. Cleo, Molina’s popu-lar cat doctor mascot, greeting and taking photos with event guestsMix 92.3 provided live music and handed out more giveaways and gifts.Thousands of local residents in need receiv-ing winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves; chil-dren participating in arts and crafts; attendees getting free haircuts; Dr. Cleo greeting and taking photos with guestsMolina’s mission is to provide quality health care to those who need it most. Molina HOPE is a corporate charitable giving program, founded to empower the low-income individuals and families they serve and to support community partners whose goals align with their mission. Through Molina HOPE, they offer micro-grants to local community-based organizations; provide in-kind donations; help fund health-care related scholar-ships; sponsor events like health fairs with free medical screenings; host donation drives; and more. In addition to providing high-quality care to approximately 4.6 million members, they are also committed to supporting the communities in which members, as well as their friends and families, live, work and play. For more informa-tion, please visit online at 1997, Molina Healthcare of Michigan has been providing government-funded care for low-income individuals. Molina is dedicated to bringing high-quality and cost-effective health care to kids, adults, seniors, families and people with disabilities. As of June 2017, the compa-ny has served approximately 414,000 members through Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare-Medicaid (Duals) and Health Insurance Exchange pro-grams throughout Michigan. Molina’s state Provider Network includes 7,591 primary care physicians, 39,152 specialist physicians, 2,983 ancillary services and 112 hos-pitals. Molina Healthcare distributes thousands of coats at Second Ebenezer ChurchThe Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announces vision for Nonprofit Support CenterAnd they’re bringing all of that to school. With the baby!”But thanks to successful mentoring efforts, many of these same young people are now on a better road toward a potentially better life.“We’ve seen remarkable improvements in how the stu-dents are feeling about them-selves, to the point where they can stick with their studies enough to graduate from high school,” said Steinback, who went on to describe how the whole thing got started when Susan Taylor discovered how difficult it can be to find black mentors for black children, not because black adults don’t care but because black adults are of-tentimes overly stressed them-selve
s in their own life predica-ments. Still, the need for black mentors in Detroit is strong.“How it came about was that the primary mission for National CARES is the recruit-ment of, as Susan would put it, ‘able, stable, in their right mind black folks’ to tutor our black children. So one of the things that we learned early on is that in order to have people mentor children, they need to be in somewhat of a right mind, or stable mind, or else they’ll pass on things that we really don’t want them to pass on to the kids. So the idea there be-ing recruiting folks, and then providing some kind of training beyond an orientation.”Susan brought together “a brain trust of 60 of the coun-try’s leading black psychol-ogists, educators, activists, historians, just every walk of life that came to her place in NY to brainstorm what kinds of things do we need to know about ourselves to help us be better mentors.”Following that model, De-troit CARE’s New Way Forward speaker series has focused on inviting a broad array of perspectives on how to uplift community such as Interna-tional Peace Initiatives founder Dr. Karambu Ringera, who ac-quired a wasteland in her native Meru, Kenya, and transformed it into a children’s home. She is also co-creator of the New Gen-eration Leadership Program which trains young leaders from all across Africa and in-ternationally, and is recognized as an international authority on women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, and how to uplift impoverished commu-nities. Ringera’s message of struggle and overcoming near mind-bending odds to enable and empower children to imag-ine something better and then to realize that imagination was an inspiring event for those who attended last week’s pre-sentation with very real appli-cations for Detroit. The primary message? Self-sufficiency and self-reli-ance. Ringera’s attitude seems best expressed in a quote from her own International Peace Initiatives website:“I like to think of myself as a peace, healing and reconcilia-tion activist, involved in promot-ing community based organiz-ing that empowers grassroots people, especially women and children challenged by disease, violence, and poverty. Poverty is not just about lack of money, or absence of violence and dis-ease, rather the greatest suffer-ing in these areas results from lack of access to information, a lack of knowledge and support to successfully utilize and de-velop local resources to create a better life. My desire is to stand with communities as they learn to listen deeply to the inner knowing of their hearts, iden-tify their needs, craft their own solutions and inspire actions to meet those needs.” other, strengthen their effec-tiveness in serving the commu-nity, and coordinate efforts to solve major challenges togeth-er. We are honored to partner with the foundation on this.”Early Operations, ServicesThe foundation anticipates the center will begin limited operations and services in mid- to late 2018. The 7,500-square-foot space, which is located on the ground floor of the founda-tion’s headquarters and leased from Midtown Detroit, Inc., is currently being prepared for build out.In early 2018, the foundation and center partners will begin to strategize the best design and layout to facilitate collab-oration, service delivery and special events. In addition, the center will also be led through a naming and brand identity de-velopment process.In its early operations, the center will focus primarily on grantees and potential grantees of the Wilson Foundation as the ‘first clients,’ and will offer some services, activities and events to fellow foundations and nonprofits. With the cen-ter’s primary partners recent-ly established, there are still many questions and operation-al details to be determined in the coming months as the cen-ter gets up and running. More details will be shared closer to the center’s launch later in 2018.With the center based in Southeast Michigan, the foun-dation is also in the early stages of talking with partners across western New York, its other re-gion of focus, to determine the best approach for providing nonprofit support, based on the existing assets and activities al-ready happening there.

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