A Familar Position: Gov. Synder Asks Nonprofits for Support

It’s hard to argue with the conceptual frame of what Governor is trying to accomplish for Michigan: Vibrant urban cities, a robust economy, the preservation of natural resources (i.e. for enjoyment, health, recreation), retaining a highly educated young working class, and improved public transportation.

The process for actually getting there has seemed to anger all citizens of any political background and belief system. It would seem that cutting benefits for the poor, taxing seniors, cutting education revenues would run contrary to his vision to a more prosperous Michigan. How can we support the increasing need in Michigan as we continue to decrease both funding and services?

But aha! Synder has card he has yet to lay: partnerships with nonprofits will ease the strain on our population as we transition to Michigan’s new economy. In fact, Synder is looking at three areas which he hopes nonprofits will pick up the slack: education, wellness, and workforce. From Crain’s Detroit Business:

The state currently has 84 funding streams for early childhood programs, Snyder said.

“One of the things I’m doing is to issue an executive order to look at all those streams and figure out how to best partner with” the nonprofit sector, he said.

“It’s not about funding; it’s about outcomes and results and the growth of students. The only number that matters is 100 percent. Anything less than that is not good enough.”

Nonprofits are also well-positioned to assist with health and wellness, the governor said.

“We have the world’s best acute-care system, … but it’s putting us on a path of financial challenges as a society, and that’s because we haven’t done enough to stay healthy.

“As a state, we need to lose weight, be more thoughtful about what we eat and turn to locally grown fresh foods, which would not only improve our health but serve as an economic development opportunity,” Snyder said.

People also rely on the emergency room for primary care too often, he said.

“We need to be more proactive about getting health care out in the community to people who need it,” and the nonprofit sector can help, Snyder said. “That’s clearly a partnership opportunity.”

In workforce and talent development, the state needs to be more proactive about getting economic development people talking with employers about their employment needs and getting that message out to those seeking jobs, Snyder said.

“If you talk to auto, they’ll tell you they are going to have openings, but they are not the old (assembly) line jobs. These jobs, you need a community college education to take.
“We have some good people, … but we work in silos when it comes to talent.”

For us in the nonprofit community, we appreciate the recognition. Really. And you should know, we are used to picking up the slack. We’ll do it – and we won’t even complain. This is who we are.   It’s our gift and our curse. We’re serving endless needs with skeleton staffs and millions of volunteers – basically unpaid labor.

So Gov. Synder, when you give credit to Michigan’s inevitable turnaround, please give credit where credit is due. We are the the last support to this battered economy, we are the state’s last legs. When issues that effect the nonprofit sector arise, please continue to partner with us. We have a lot to offer.

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