Civic & Community Engagement

MNA is committed to life-long learning and building collective power.  We aim to be a leader in providing resources to build the civic engagement capacity of nonprofits that serve marginalized communities and are lead by BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) leaders.

The goal of our programs is to enhance participation in the “civic engagement cycle” of historically underrepresented groups such as being counted in the census, voting, and participating in the redistricting process. 

Increased participation will lead to greater equality in political power, government funding, and private-sector investment for these communities.

Current Initiatives 

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting (MICRC) Initiative

In 2018, voters passed an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution, establishing the state’s first Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission (ICRC). Thanks in part to targeted work by Michigan’s nonprofits during the 2020 Census count, helping to ensure that historically uncounted and undercounted populations were counted, MNA and Michigan nonprofits are able to seamlessly build on those same efforts to support the 2021 work of the ICRC.

MNA is mobilizing nonprofits to achieve fair and impartial district maps for Michigan, specifically to promote racial equity so that communities of color have a voice and are not locked out of the important decision-making that occurs at the local, state and federal levels.

With the new Commission came major changes in the criteria to be followed when drawing maps. One of the most important changes is the prominent importance of Communities of Interest, or COI, which is to be central in the Commission’s approach to drawing new maps. The definitions of COI are vast and subjective, but they generally coalesce around populations, groups or communities that have common interests and policy concerns. Michigan’s Constitution defines COI as a “…populations that share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests.” The uniqueness of a neighborhood, the number of renters, feelings about gun control, school funding or the shared goals for candidates could be considered COI. It is common to think of race and ethnicity but that is not the only thing that would be considered COI.

MNA will work closely with all of our nonprofit cohorts, providing training and a strategic communications strategy, including resources to educate the local communities Michigan’s nonprofits organizations serve. We continue to identify nonprofits that represent COIs and will help them understand how the new ICRC works, what is at stake, and why they should get involved.

One of the goals of our project is widespread understanding of what COI means and its critical importance to Commission’s efforts this year. This will be achieved through extensive outreach from MNA to our nonprofit partners, or cohorts, and extensive cohort outreach to the local communities they serve. Ensuring that COI are key participants in the process is critical because they are the building blocks of legislative districts. COI participation will lead to more fair, accurate and effective representation.

The campaign infrastructure will be led by Michigan Nonprofit Association, with support from philanthropy, and implemented by local nonprofit grantees.

To find more information and resources, visit here.

Past Initiatives 

Be Counted Michigan 2020

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), with seed funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and with support from the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), has launching an ambitious effort to mobilize nonprofits and partner with government to encourage participation in the 2020 census.

2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign is a collaborative, coordinated, statewide effort to encourage participation in the census in communities that are at significant risk of being undercounted. The campaign will mobilize nonprofits to educate communities on the importance of maintaining participation rates and ideally increasing counts in hard-to-count communities, provide trainings and tools for nonprofits on effective outreach tactics, assist nonprofits in identifying hard-to-count communities, award mini-grants to local nonprofits, coordinate a statewide communications plan and work with government officials to avoid duplication of efforts and enhance government’s communication and outreach efforts to ensure a complete count.

There’s a lot at stake for the 2020 census and there is a clear need for outreach, communication, coordination and organizing to ensure a fair and complete count in Michigan.

First, communities are at risk of losing critical revenue for programs and services relied on by all Michigan residents. Public officials use census data and the number of people counted to determine distribution of federal funds. In 2014, Michigan was allocated $17.7 billion in federal funds that support many programs and services of importance including, but not limited to: Head Start; food stamps; special education; free and reduced lunch programs; WIC, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Under current funding figures, Michigan would lose an estimated $1,800 of federal funds per year for every person not counted.  Without the government funding, communities would turn to philanthropy and nonprofits to fill the void.

Second, those with the most to lose from an undercount are the hardest to count, including communities of color, immigrants, young children, people experiencing homelessness, and those traditionally served by nonprofits. For example, in Michigan 10.8% of the population under the age of five years old lives in a hard-to-count community. Many of the hardest to count individuals live in rural areas where there has been a significant shift in the demographics that may be missed in the 2020 census count.

For more information on the Nonprofits Count Campaign, visit www.becountedmi2020.com and www.mivoicecounts.org.

Nonprofit VOTE

Learn more here.