The Foundation for Detroit’s Future: Its Role in Philanthropic Collaboration

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November 12, 2014; Detroit News

The Foundation for Detroit’s Future has been created to collect money from 12 private foundations in the amount of $366 million over 20 years to be placed into the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement Systems as a part of the “grand bargain.” The “grand bargain” is a forward-looking plan that will help the City of Detroit honor its commitment to retirees and preserve the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

In an October 2014 NPQ article, it was reported that Kresge Foundation CEO Rip Rapson testified during the Detroit bankruptcy trials that “he believes the DIA is central to Detroit’s history and its future, calling it a cultural asset the city can’t afford to lose or have diminished with sales of its art to pay off creditors.”

As reported in a January 2014 NPQ article, the response to the foundations’ intervention in Detroit has been overwhelmingly positive, but that the initiative of the Foundation for Detroit’s Future actually came from a federal judge in charge of mediating the Detroit bankruptcy, according to Miriam Noland, president of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.

The foundation is governed by a five-member board of directors which include Mariam Noland; James B. Nicholson, president and CEO of PVS Chemicals Inc.; Allan D. Gilmour, former president of Wayne State University; Robert J. Manilla, CIO at Kresge Foundation; and Kenneth T. Monteiro, general counsel of the Ford Foundation. The board is responsible for monitoring the city’s compliance with ongoing grants, providing pension fund oversight, and reporting to all 12 contributing foundations. In addition, Dennis Scholl of the Knight Foundation was appointed as an observer of the DIA board of directors to represent and report to the foundations’ portion of the “grand bargain.”

The committed foundations are: the Ford Foundation ($125 million); The Kresge Foundation ($100 million); W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($40 million); John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($30 million); William Davidson Foundation ($25 million); Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan ($10 million); the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation ($10 million); the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation ($2.5 million); Hudson-Webber Foundation ($10 million); McGregor Fund ($6 million); Charles Stewart Mott Foundation ($10 million); and the A. Paul and Carol C. Schapp Foundation ($5 million).

Several additional foundations have committed to helping the DIA reach $100 million contribution to the “grand bargain,” including: Ford Motor Company Fun ($10 million); General Motors Foundation ($10 million); Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($10 million plus $5 million match if the DIA raises its full commitment); Penske Corporation ($10 million); Chrysler Group LLC ($6 million); Quicken Loans ($5 million); DTE Energy Foundation ($5 million); J. Paul Getty Trust ($3 million); Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan ($2.5 million); Japan Business Society of Detroit ($2.1 million); Comerica Bank ($1 million); J.P. Morgan Chase ($1 million); Meijer Inc. ($1 million); Toyota ($1 million); Consumers Energy Co. ($800,000); and the Delta Air Lines Foundation ($500,000).

One extra grant that is being kept separate from the “grand bargain” but will help offset healthcare cuts to city retirees is from the Skillman Foundation for $3.5 million.—Erin Lamb