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Seeds of hope and the power of lived experiences

More than one in three Haitians currently needs urgent food assistance, according to an article in The New Humanitarian. The piece takes a deep dive into the history and current state of food systems in Haiti, and describes many years of setbacks to the country’s environment, agriculture and rural livelihoods. It concludes, however, with some “seeds of hope,” which include the Haiti Local Food Systems Alliance, a coalition of 14 WKKF grantee organizations from multiple sectors working to strengthen and expand value chains while supporting the nutritional needs of children and families. 
In Michigan, 44% of families live in areas without sufficient child care options, and in 2021 more than 100,000 parents had to make career sacrifices to care for their children. WKKF grantee the Michigan Women’s Commission, has launched a pilot program to change that. The Michigan Tri-Share Child Care program splits the cost of child care three ways among employers, employees and state government. It’s designed to help parents who struggle to afford child care, but do not qualify for subsidies that could help them access quality care for their children and stay in the workforce.
Minnesota is putting its earliest learners first in Kids Count on Us, an initiative of WKKF grantee ISAIAH, which has long advocated for increased funding for the state’s struggling child care system through its Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Kids Count on Us, a coalition of more than 500 of the state’s child care providers, has actively engaged, mobilized and educated parents and childcare workers. Recently, the governor has proposed fully funding CCAP, as well as increasing funding to help families access care, support full-service community schools that provide wrap-around services for families with children from birth through high school, mental health supports for children beginning at birth, free school meals and more. 
Kim Folsom has leveraged her decades-long corporate career and lived experience working up through the engineering industry ranks to launch six companies and raise $30 million along the way. Now, her latest venture, WKKF investee Founders First Capital Partners, has closed an $11 million Series A funding round to accelerate financing and advisory support for small businesses led by people from historically underrepresented backgrounds. In 2021, less than 1.2% of venture funding went to Black founders and even less – 0.34% – went to Black women founders. Founders First is reframing risk and aligning incentives with its innovative revenue-based financing that enables entrepreneurs to retain equity ownership and build wealth in communities of color.
Health inequities have become more clear amid the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the relationship between racism and health. With support from WKKF, the February 2022 edition of the Health Affairs journal is dedicated to the topic of “Racism & Health,” offering a comprehensive look at the impact of racism on health care. Check out its virtual event featuring a panel of distinguished authors and experts discussing historical context, evolving research and the lived experience of people whose health has been harmed by individual and structural racism.

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