Michigan Prosperity Agenda: Philanthropy Making a Difference in Michigan Communities
Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan
As cities deal with tight budgets and look for creative ways to provide the amenities that make communities healthy, happy and viable places for Michigan residents to live, municipal leaders are getting a helping hand from philanthropic foundations. Around the state, almost every city has benefited from foundation grants, whether for the arts, education, parks, healthy lifestyles, or other areas. On this month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show we talk to the people who work for the foundations that do so much good in our communities, and we talk with those who have received philanthropic support. This month’s guests are Karen Aldridge-Eason, foundation liaison for the State of Michigan on loan from the C.S. Mott Foundation; Renee Johnston, president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation; Cathleen Edgerly, director of the Howell Downtown Development Authority; and the League’s own Samantha Harkins, President of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation.
THIS MONTH’S SHOW airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26 on News/Talk 760 WJR, and you can listen by clicking the links below. Listen as we talk about the upcoming conference and how to build better Michigan communities.
Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, explains that the Prosperity Agenda radio show is about challenging listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play. Gilmartin said having vibrant and prosperous local communities is a key factor.
- Dan Gilmartin explains this month’s show. (1 minute)
Karen Aldridge-Eason is the Foundation Liaison for the State of Michigan on loan from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Aldridge-Eason works with the governor, Executive Office staff, state officials, foundations and non-profits to increase strategic partnerships between state government and foundations aimed at improving public policy. Karen talks about how her office originated and some of its accomplishments.
- Karen reveals where Michigan ranks nationally in terms of philanthropic giving. It might surprise you. Listen to find out. (8:44)
Reneé Johnston is president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation. She is a Saginaw native who spent nearly a decade working with Delphi Corporation in Saginaw and Troy before joining the Saginaw Community Foundation in 2004. She was honored with a Ruby Award in 2005 and was named the Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2008. She has played a role in the development of the Heroes for Kids fundraiser; Saginaw County’s Promise; the Youth First program; City of Hope Committee; Downtown Saginaw Association; Step Up Saginaw; and the Deindorfer Woods Park restoration. Renee talks about how the Saginaw Community Foundation is a leader in working with community foundations as they evolve into community and economic development leaders.
- Renee discusses how community foundations like her organization work with corporation foundations to help address local needs. (8:52)
Cathleen Edgerly joined in the Howell Downtown Development Authority as director in April of 2014. She loves to be actively engaged in the downtown community, working with people, and focusing on the continued promotion, economic development, preservation, and overall awesomeness of downtown. As an experienced marketing professional, and graduate of Michigan State University, Cathleen recently served as the Communications and Marketing Manager for Downtown Lansing's Main Street Program for close to three years. She talks about the reliance that the Howell Main Street has on local support and the role foundations play in that support.
- Cathleen reveals what it takes to get new events up and running and the importance of events in helping a community thrive. Hint: "Crowds attract crowds." (10:05)
Samantha Harkins is the director of Michigan Municipal League Foundation. She joined the League in February of 2008 as a Legislative Associate. In 2011, she was honored in the Inside Michigan Politics Lobbyist Survey by being ranked in the top 20 for Individual Lobbyist as well as ranked number 2 in the Individual Single Interest Lobbyist category. In late 2013, she was on Crain’s Detroit Business List of People in Politics to Watch in 2014. Harkins discusses her work with the League Foundation and its work in creating and maintaining great places throughout the state.
- Samantha discusses some of the foundation work happening all over Michigan. The League Foundation, in particular, helps foster networks between a range of funders, advocates and people who love where they live. She specifically discusses a great project happening in mid-Michigan. Listen to find out which one. (9:04)