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Chapter 4: National & Global Engagement

Contributing Factors

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While committed to working in Michigan, leaders of foundations, nonprofits, and their umbrella associations also provided enthusiasm, ideas, and effort toward building strong philanthropic institutions across the U.S. and beyond.

One reason for this national presence is the headquarters for three major private foundations are located in Michigan – the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation. These foundations brought national and international knowledge and perspectives to the state’s approach to philanthropy. They also employed sector leaders who actively engaged in the initiatives in Michigan. The influence of these foundations and the benefits of the network created by and for Michigan’s philanthropic community cannot be overestimated; the network spans throughout the world.

VideoVideo: Leaders discuss the national and global effects of Michigan philanthropy.


A second contributing factor to Michigan’s engagement in the broader philanthropic community was the ethic of “sharing,” which was accepted across the charitable field.

The underlying value: materials created through charitable dollars best demonstrate philanthropy by being shared without concern for ownership, copyright, or the merchandising of ideas.

Low institutional barriers to the flow of ideas and information provided an atmosphere supportive of collaboration and creativity. Michigan adopted and acted on this ethic, both in efforts within the state and across the world.

Leaders in Michigan engaged in very pragmatic problem solving, aspiring to achieve large-scale systemic change by working closely with individual communities. In some cases, a specific problem or opportunity related to philanthropy was addressed in Michigan and never moved beyond its borders. In other cases, a program or initiative was launched somewhere outside of Michigan, and that approach was brought to and integrated into the state. There were also efforts to increase and improve philanthropy that grew to national and international scale.

This chapter provides an overview of the many projects and initiatives, divided into three categories: those created and located in Michigan, those brought to Michigan, and those growing to national/international scale. In the three “In Practice” sections of this chapter, we will focus on clusters of programs within each of these categories. First-person accounts of the development of these efforts to improve and increase philanthropy are provided to convey a deeper understanding of Michigan’s philanthropic culture.

The projects or initiatives found in the “In Practice” sections of this chapter are listed here.

Projects or initiatives created in Michigan and remained in the state:

Projects or initiatives that were brought to Michigan and expanded:

Projects or initiatives that started in Michigan and grew to national/international scale:

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