Challenge #4 Project with Michigan Community Resources: COVID-19 Nonprofit Support
Michigan Community Resource (MCR) began as a pro bono law service and has grown into a resource network for nonprofits serving Detroit, assisting organizations in necessary steps to obtain 501(c)(3) status, and cross-sector network building and collaboration. In light of the drastic pivot most organizations have taken during the state’s stay-at-home orders, our team assisted MCR to identify and address technology gaps. Matthew Schmitt, MCR Program Manager and Alumni Fellow, reported approximately 30-40% of Detroiters are not connected to the internet. There is a need to increase communication and connectivity for nonprofits and the populations they serve. Working with MCR emphasized the glaring technological inequities organizations and residents of Detroit experience. As stated by Meghan S. of nonprofit Grace in Action, people are finally realizing “communication is a fundamental human right.”
In an interview with Richard Grundy of Journi, he highlighted the challenges his organization is experiencing as they navigate virtual options for the continuation of their organization’s programming. The youth served by Journi’s programs are hindered by a lack of access to computers and the internet. Conversations with other stakeholders have identified similar needs. Another insight shared with our team was about the distrust that some people in the community have of technology. All organizations are striving to meet residents where they are, with the resources at their disposal.
Our team created several resources to assist MCR in evaluating technology needs, the viability of collecting technology that can be redistributed to those in need and a tech training guide. A survey to be distributed to MCR’s network has been designed to compile the most pressing needs of organizations and the community they serve. The tech training guide comprises information pertaining to organizing and hosting conference calls, a tool to assist in choosing the virtual platform to best suit an agency’s needs and finally, approaches for looking forward beyond COVID-19.