DETROIT, April 15, 2020 – The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation today announced it will deploy $1.6 million to support local leaders working to address some of the most immediate needs presented by the COIVD-19 crisis.
The Fisher Foundation and family recognize the critical need to act quickly to assist the people and communities in Southeast Michigan hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19. Acknowledging the most important gifts given each day come from our neighbors and the care they show each other, the Foundation and family are proud to join a growing number of partners in committing funds beyond its approved 2020 program grantmaking budget. These funds exceed the required 5% of assets foundations nationwide are mandated by law to contribute each year.
Phillip Wm. Fisher, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, explained why it is so critical to give beyond the annual grant budget at this time. “As a Board and family, we know how critically important it is to lean in during times of crisis and significantly invest in our existing partners. We are inspired by Mother, who encouraged us to push our philanthropic limits in difficult times such as the 2008 great recession. We’ll continue to do all we can to put our hearts, heads, and hands to work alongside our partners.”
In addition to the Foundation’s ongoing support of its grant partners, the Board of Trustees approved an additional $1.6 million to specifically address the community impact of COVID-19 across its impact areas and priority geographic areas including:
- Early Childhood: Together with the block club captains, volunteer leaders, local farmers, artists, educators, grandparents, parents, guardians, and teens of the Brightmoor Alliance who are volunteering their time, talent, and treasure in the northwest Detroit neighborhood, the Foundation is providing emergency operational funding to early childhood care and education leaders via Development Centers, Inc., Starfish Family Services and Brightmoor Quality Initiative. Additionally, to support the distribution of food, water and diapers – some of the most basic items children and families need – the Foundation will deploy funds to Gleaners Community Food Bank & Brightmoor Connections, Forgotten Harvest, and Metropolitan Diaper Bank. The Foundation is further pledging funds to the professional and volunteer leaders of the United Way of Southeast Michigan (UWSEM) to allocate to organizations providing food, transportation, shelter and childcare for children of first responders in the Southeast Michigan region. The funding will also support the critical work of 2-1-1 call center operators, who provide vital referral services to all in the region.
- Arts: To help care for artists, art educators, and arts administrators of our region who work so hard to enliven our creativity and who are being hit especially hard due to cancelled performances and closed facilities, the Foundation is contributing to the COVID-19 Arts and Creative Community Assistance Fund, co-led by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) and CultureSource. The Foundation will also lend immediate, emergency funding for general operations to the leaders and artists of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theater, which have been severely and adversely affected by concert and event cancellations.
- Jewish: To fuel first-responder agencies to maintain operations providing cash assistance for urgent human needs and essential care for important portions of our population including the elderly and individuals with disabilities throughout the region, the Foundation is providing funding to Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. The Foundation will also provide funding to Jewish Agency for Israel – North American Council to meet urgent needs, including enabling distance education for Kiryat Yearim Youth Village students in Israel. The teens of Kiryat Yearim will also decide where a portion of the support is utilized for their fellow students and their surrounding community through a giving circle funded before the crisis began. Assistant will also provide meal and sanitation kits for new olim (immigrants) who have recently arrived in Israel.
- Other Priorities: Recognizing the role of longstanding social impact partners in south Florida, the Foundation also pledged support for theCommunity Foundation for Palm Beach & Martin Counties (CFPBMC) COVID-19 Response Fund. The fund will support basic needs and emergency provisions for residents including medical supplies and support for front-line medical professionals and continued access to COVID-19 testing for all.
Like many youth-serving organizations, local school closures and limitations on group sizes have temporarily shuttered the doors of the Max M. Fisher Club and the Marjorie S. Fisher Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. To support the youth members and adult staff and volunteers of the, the Foundation will provide funding for those still hard at work serving the many needs of the local youth.
“We know the most important contributions during this crisis are being made by our medical professionals as well as our neighbors who work in essential businesses in grocery stores, pharmacies, those who still go to work each and every day, and those who make personal sacrifices to care for others,” said Douglas Bitonti Stewart, Executive Director of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. “We are grateful to all our partners for allowing us to fuel their work. Thanks to the actions of the Board to ensure these grants are over and above our existing budget, we’ll remain steadfastly committed to our partners during the pandemic and beyond.”
About the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation
The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation’s core philosophy is grounded in the beliefs of our founders and the family’s shared Jewish values that life’s purpose is found in service to others. The mission of the Foundation is to enrich humanity by strengthening and empowering children and families in need. In the Jewish tradition of tzedakah (justice), the Foundation and family work to repair the world (tikkun olam) alongside those who share our mission. For more information, please visit www.mmfisher.org.