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Local collaboratives respond to community priorities

At A Glance is a bi-weekly news recap highlighting WKKF grantees, investments, communities and partnerships.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted structural inequities in metropolitan Detroit, where many suburban children have access to online learning tools and have been able to continue their studies, but 90% of students in Detroit lack school-appropriate internet connected devices. Connected Futures, a partnership of businesses, nonprofits, public entities and philanthropy, is bridging the digital divide by putting tablets or laptops into the hands of every one of the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s 51,000 students. This virtual discussion showcases how this partnership came together and what it hopes to achieve. 

In late May, tropical storm Cristóbal made landfall in Campeche flooding the Yucatán Peninsula and parts of Chiapas. Hopelchén was among the hardest hit municipalities. Apiaries were devastated and the area’s agriculture overall, including vegetable gardens on which many Indigenous families live, was heavily damaged, wiping out an estimated 80%. Fortunately, local collectives which include WKKF grantees, such as the Asociación Civil Muuch Kambal, immediately began assessing and responding to community needs and reaching out to government authorities to plan ongoing recovery.

In Haiti, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, and Dr. William Pape is fighting it both as director of WKKF grantee GHESKIO and as co-chair of the government’s COVID-19 task force. In a June 13 interview with PBS News Hour, Pape said in his decades of fighting epidemics in Haiti, he learned how essential Community Health Agents are as trusted community members who educate their neighbors about the disease and connect them with health services. “You win that community immediately because poor people are not stupid,” he says. “Poor people want to make sure that what you’re telling them is real and what we’re telling them is good for them.”

Local Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) efforts are taking action. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, the TRHT is advocating for fair housing and continuing its work with the Police Academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to advance policing reforms locally. This ongoing partnership builds on an existing program to offer cadets and community members racial healing circles and anti-racist education as part of a week-long diversity, education and inclusion series.

Entrepreneurs of color struggle to access funding and resources they need, yet they largely represent an untapped resource of solutions to social and economic problems. Social Capital Market’s (SOCAP) virtual convening SPECTRUM recently engaged business and market leaders around ideas for advancing a more inclusive economy, emphasizing that closing the racial wealth gap is economically and morally vital.“If we put the right people in the room and encourage them to lead with their humanity and listen to understand, we can have conversations that not only address the challenges, but identify solutions and actions,” said Keisha Senter, senior content lead at SPECTRUM, in a recent blog post.

Our partner the Foundation for the Mid South is working with the United Way of the Capital Area to support an eight-part series exploring cultural, social and political stories impacting the state. The 30-minute show called Mississippi Matters airs Sundays at 11:35 p.m. CT on ABC affiliate WAPT-16, through mid-August. Last week they discussed the state’s flag, which the legislature recently voted to change, removing the Confederate emblem. Many of our partners, including Working Together Jackson, mobilized to change the Mississippi flag, arguing that the symbol perpetuates discrimination against people of color and stalls economic growth.

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