Rested and ready to get down to business!
July 6th, 2009I've taken the last two weeks off . . . well almost. Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) staff would contend that someone should have taken my laptop and iPhone and hidden them for the past two weeks! The first week I was still so wound up that I couldn't really relax but finally - I took a deep breath, a few power walks, and suddenly I was breathing more easily and looking at life without the edge that was evident just days before.
When I left on vacation, the funding from the Department of Human Services (DHS) was being cut for our collaborative network of prevention programs focusing on child abuse and neglect. While the situation is still tenuous, the programs are still operating for now but for how long remains to be seen. What got me was the manner in which this whole thing went down. Yes I realize that the state of Michigan is in financial crisis and funding is being slashed everywhere.
Funding from private sources like GRCF helps to fuel this network of prevention programs yet private funding will never match the level of public funding. I'm still bristling from a comment a state legislator made during a meeting of DHS leaders, county leaders, and local funders that the "community needs to step up." Huh? Where has this person been? Pretty unaware of what is really happening in his own community I'd say. Before saying things like that, more homework should be done to find out that this community has been stepping up to do as we effectively braid private funding with public money and leveraging resources. We make it work in our community!
My passion is to make sure that these prevention programs can continue in some form as funding reductions are inevitable. Further another successful program that involves braided funding and strong linkage between private and public sources is the Kent School Services Network which I have written about previously needs to grow and thrive. The only way that this is going to happen is the continued cooperation of school leaders, the county, private sources and an unprecedented collaborative network of nonprofit health and human services agencies. Evaluation results are now available that demonstrate how important this program is to help children and families in our area.
In the next few weeks, we will be highlighting the priority areas that the Grand Rapids Community Foundation finds critical for a vibrant community. We are focusing on academic achievement, building economic prosperity, achieving healthy ecosystems, promoting healthy behaviors, and assuring that our neighborhoods are safe and vital. Further we are working with area foundations and nonprofit agencies on weathering this recession. No one organization can do this alone so I'll be back in the trenches soon!