Michigan Foundations Launch Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative

Michigan Foundations Launch Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, and the Kresge Foundation have announced the launch of a partnership designed to address gaps in services for immigrants and refugees in the region.

According to A Landscape Scan of Immigrant and Refugee-Supporting Organizations in Southeast Michigan (32 pages, PDF), a report produced by Public Sector Consultants, foreign-born individuals newly arrived in southeast Michigan suffer from a lack of services, negative public perceptions, inadequate federal funding, and a lack of strategic funding for nonprofits working to help them. To address these and other issues and assist the state's more than six hundred thousand foreign-born residents, 70 percent of whom live in southeast Michigan, the three organizations have formed the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative.

Funded by CFSEM and the Kresge and Skillman foundations, the report found that immigrants and refugees in the region lack access to affordable housing, employment opportunities, health care, financial services, and transportation and face barriers related to language and culture. At the same time, funding allocated to Michigan through the federal Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance programs has declined, as has the number of refugees receiving funds under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. As a result, service organizations in the region have had to rely more on philanthropic donations and volunteers. Although the number of refugees settling in Michigan fell from an annual peak of eighty-five thousand in 2016 to thirty thousand in 2019, nonprofits that serve immigrants and refugees are experiencing increased demand for their services.

To address the gaps in immigrant and refugee services, the report's authors urge grantmakers, service providers, and thought leaders to coordinate their efforts in support of immigrant and refugee communities; provide more funding and advocacy for immigrant and refugee populations; and develop a regional strategy that, among other things, details priority funding and service areas.

"Organizations serving refugees and immigrants are facing increased financial pressures due to decreases in federal assistance and the growing need for supporting these members of our community," said CFSEM president Mariam Noland. "The goal of the Southeast Michigan Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative is to provide a coordinated, philanthropic effort to support immigrant- and refugee-serving nonprofit organizations that address the needs of their constituents in our region."

"New Report and Collaborative to Support Immigrants and Refugees in Southeast Michigan." Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Press Release 09/05/2019. "A Landscape Scan of Immigrant and Refugee-Supporting Organizations in Southeast Michigan." Public Sector Consultants Report 09/05/2019.