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LEO awards over 1M to Kalamazoo County Defender to help expand services
December 05, 2023
MI Impact Grant supports nonprofits to help more Michiganders make ends meet
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Today, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) announced over $1.3 million of the $15 million statewide MI Impact Grant program was awarded to Kalamazoo County Defender, Inc. The grant, made available to Michigan’s large nonprofits who provide programming to lift people out of poverty, will allow the nonprofit to expand mental health services for justice involved individuals in Kalamazoo County.
“No one should have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table for their families,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The MI Impact Grant provides several of Michigan’s largest nonprofits with funds to make a meaningful and direct impact in their communities. We remain committed to assisting individuals living in poverty and ensure Michigan families have access to the support they need.”
Kalamazoo Defender was among 10 large nonprofits receiving one-time grant funds of up to $2 million to create or expand programming that lifts Michiganders out of poverty. The grant program prioritized partnerships with larger nonprofits that share the state’s commitment to providing services that help lift Michigan residents out of poverty and above the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold.
“These funds will allow 10 large nonprofits to uplift the communities they serve and strengthen Michigan’s nonprofit ecosystem,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “We are proud to deliver on our mission to close equity gaps and remove barriers to economic prosperity.”
Kalamazoo Defender provides resources for housing, mental health, general health, disabilities, addiction, literacy, life skills, job training, civil legal services, job placement and peer-based support for those going through the criminal justice system. The nonprofit will use the $1.3 million MI Impact Grant to address and document issues of mental health among their service population. The grant will also enable the nonprofit to build internal expertise to significantly expand therapeutic support for those clients, gather reliable data on the prevalence and nature of that population's mental health challenges and coordinate with local experts to fashion healthier systemic approaches within and beyond the criminal justice system.
“Each year, Kalamazoo Defender represents thousands of impoverished individuals who cannot afford an attorney, most of whom struggle with mental health issues that keep them mired in the criminal justice system, said Josh Hilgart, Executive Director for the Kalamazoo Defender. “The benefits of Kalamazoo Defender’s Michigan Impact Grant will extend well beyond our county, as we hope to share what we learn with other indigent defense programs and mental health experts across the state.”
The MI Impact Grant program, aimed at addressing disparities that affect Michiganders’ abilities to afford necessities such as housing, child care, food, health care and transportation, plans to lift 100,000 families out of working poverty during the next five years.
The funding is supported through the American Rescue Plan Act, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds with a goal to build a strong, resilient and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity. $50 million in funding will be provided to support nonprofits who have been negatively impacted due to the pandemic. The funding will be distributed through two separate programs, with a $35 million relief fund made available to smaller nonprofits earlier this year. Nonprofits were eligible to receive either the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund or the MI Impact Grant, not both.
The grant also supports the recommendations of the Michigan Poverty Task Force, whose goal is to address the disparities that affect Michiganders’ abilities to afford necessities. To learn more about their work and view a full list of grant awardees, visit the Michigan Poverty Task Force’s nonprofit webpage.