2017 President’s Letter

February 27, 2017

On behalf of the McGregor Fund board of trustees and staff, we are pleased to announce a significantly revised grantmaking framework for the Fund. This grantmaking framework is presented via our new website which encompasses a new look, features and upgrades.

Going forward, our work and investments will support three types of efforts that strengthen our region’s social safety net:  1) efforts addressing basic human needs such as food, shelter, and access to primary medical care; 2) those that offer recovery and restorative pathways to people who’ve experienced abuse and other trauma and/or who suffer from substance use disorders; and 3) proven, holistic, skill building opportunities that lead to broader personal and career choices for teens and adults living in poverty.

How did we get here? With Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy, economic opportunity in the city and the region is generally improving, yet many vulnerable people and neighborhoods are disconnected from this forward momentum.  Last year, the McGregor board and staff believed it was an opportune time to reflect deeply on the legacy of charitable work and giving left to us by our founders, Tracy and Katherine McGregor, and to ask how they might view their city and their foundation were they alive and working today.

From this reflection came our new framework that affirms much of what the McGregors championed a century ago.  It addresses head-on the human suffering and lack of fulfillment, born of concentrated, intergenerational poverty, that persists in Detroit and other pockets of our tri-county geography.  It considers the complexity and shortcomings of the social safety net, and how our grantees must constantly navigate public policy, funding streams and political currents in order to sustain and perfect their work.  Finally, our new framework acknowledges the role of the social sector in building community and networks of healthy relationships, essential for well being and often compromised for people who experience the isolating and destructive consequences of poverty.

Some of our grantmaking will continue as before. In the area of basic needs, we will continue to support non-profits that are delivering basic necessities free of charge and at a significant scale, in a high-quality and cost-effective manner.  More broadly, we will continue to look for opportunities to strengthen the ecosystem of organizations that address basic needs in our region.

We will embark on new grantmaking in our two other focus areas.  While the Fund has provided steadfast support to grantees serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, we will expand our support of other human and behavioral health services offering recovery-oriented, trauma-informed care.  These organizations successfully guide and empower people to live safer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Most new to us is our third focus area regarding proven, holistic skill building opportunities.  We looked around our community and asked: which organizations are the most successful helping people with little or no income or assets to broaden their personal and career opportunities?  We found a mix of organizations working with Detroit teens, first generation college students, returning citizens, and others planning and executing a career change or small business launch.  All of these successful programs share key characteristics. They build essential soft and hard skills, create a community of peers, grow self-confidence, and cultivate a positive view of the future and broader sense of possibilities. Participants exit these programs engaged and ready to pursue their goals.  We’re excited to support these life-changing programs and to encourage their leaders to see their work collectively as a powerful force for change.

As the Fund reorients grantmaking to this new framework, we’re also challenging ourselves to do more to advocate for the least fortunate in our community.  We’re investing more of our time in learning what works and sharing what we learn.  Finally, we are working harder to build more transparency into how we operate.  We hope you will help us do and be better, by giving us your feedback and suggestions, challenging our thinking, and telling us how we’re doing.



Kate Levin Markel