COVID-19 Update: Federal CARES Act Provides $100M for Michigan Child Care Relief Fund, Pontiac Company Retools to Make Plexiglass Dividers, StockX Launches Campaign for WHO, and More

map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 29

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

State Government – Child Care Relief
With $100 million from the federal CARES Act and $30 million from Michigan’s child care fund, both dedicated to be only used for child care services, Michigan officials have established a Child Care Relief Fund to help child care providers cover costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the program is to help child care providers stay in business and make child care more affordable for Michigan families. The grants are non-competitive and can be applied for now by clicking here. There will be additional funding available in May and June.

When child care providers receive the funds, they can use them to cover the unexpected expenses they are facing due to the crisis. They also are required to use a portion of the grant to cut costs for families. See the Michigan Department of Education’s FAQ document for more details.

The Michigan Department of Education also is offering two webinars to assist child care providers with their applications. To register for the 1 p.m. Friday, May 1 webinar, click here. To register for the 3 p.m. Monday, May 4 webinar, click here.

State Government – Children’s Services
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Services Agency has developed the Family Well-Being Guide, a new resource with information to support children, parents, and other caregivers during the COVID-19 emergency.

The guide features practical tips on ways to support vulnerable families. It includes recommended questions to help understand the needs of potentially at-risk caregivers and children. It also provides statewide resources available to families who might have concerns about food, housing, mental health, finances, or safety.

“As a community we are all responsible to look out for one another, and to make sure kids and their primary caregivers are healthy, safe, and thriving,” says JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency. “During a time when face-to-face visits are restricted, we encourage everyone to think about those families you know who are dealing with hardships and could use some extra support before stress and anxiety create a more dire situation.”

Reaching out to lend an ear and help families access available support can go a long way toward keeping families stable and well, Chang says. The guide can help frame those conversations.

For additional tips on how to talk to children about COVID-19, the MDHHS’ Communicating with Children During COVID-19 is available, as well as Talking with Children: Tips for Parents, Caregivers and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call MDHHS’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week toll-free hotline at 855-444-3911.

Manufacturing
Pontiac-based iMBranded, a company that produces millwork and graphics primarily for auto dealers, has started making a line of facility graphics and plexiglass dividers for social distancing in the workplace. The new line of products, available at www.safely6ft.com, are customizable, easy to design and use, removable, and can be ordered, printed, and shipped in a contactless manner.

As a result, iMBranded has been able to bring back 75 percent of the 130 workers it laid off at the start of the pandemic.

The flagship of the company’s new offerings is TeamShield, also referred to as a portable sneeze guard, which protects staff and customers from the rapid spread of airborne germs caused by sneezing and coughing. These protective, acrylic sneeze guards come in four sizes and are designed as a defensive barrier that allows for commerce interactions while easing the concerns of employees and customers.

Dairy Rescue Program
Building on the existing partnerships with the Michigan Milk Producers Association and Dairy Farmers of America, which already donated a combined 129,900 gallons of milk throughout the year, the Kroger Family of Cos. has announced the launch of an expanded Dairy Rescue Program, designed to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic through the summer months.

In partnership with its dairy cooperative suppliers and farmers across the Midwest and South, Kroger will process and donate about 200,000 gallons of additional milk to Feeding America food banks and community organizations through the end of August, uplifting its Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative.

“Kroger recognizes the growing need for fresh, highly nutritious food in our community, especially for children as schools remain closed during the pandemic to flatten the curve,” says Erin Sharp, group vice president of manufacturing for Kroger. “At a time when dairy farmers have surplus raw milk, we’re doubling down on our mission to reduce hunger and waste.”

The Dairy Rescue Program is expanding on an existing partnership model between Kroger and its dairy cooperative suppliers to direct even more fluid milk — one of the most requested but harder to stock items at food banks — to food-insecure communities.

Through the expanded program, during the pandemic dairy cooperatives will donate surplus milk normally sold to restaurants, schools, and hotels, while Kroger will donate the processing and packaging of the donated milk. Additionally, in some areas, Kroger’s logistics team also will donate the transportation of the milk to local food banks.

Through the expanded program, Kroger’s dairy processing plants and suppliers will be donating an additional 50,000 gallons of milk per month to local food banks and community organizations. Feeding America member food banks and other partners will help transport the gallons and half-gallons to local hunger relief agencies.

From May through August, four of Kroger’s manufacturing facilities will process the rescued milk to benefit several food bank organizations and communities. In Michigan the beneficiaries will be food banks supported by the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

Solidarity Response Fund
Detroit’s StockX has launched its latest Campaign for a Cause on behalf of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization, powered by the United Nations Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.

To support the organization’s efforts in the worldwide fight against COVID-19, StockX has rallied its community to donate some of their most unique and coveted pieces, which will be raffled on the platform — from sneakers and apparel to art, accessories, and collectibles.

Sarah Andelman, Don C, Karlie Kloss, Futura, Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi, Hasan Minhaj, Steve Aoki, and Ludacris are just a few friends of the brand who are participating and donating items from their personal collections in this unified effort.

Among the items included in the raffle lineup are an autographed track vest from Bolt, who is known as the fastest runner in the world; a pair of autographed Ludacris X PUMA Clyde sneakers from the famed rapper; a game-worn player exclusive pair of adidas Nemeziz cleats from FC Barcelona football star, Messi; and a fine art print from renowned contemporary graffiti artist, Futura.

The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund was created at the request of the WHO in partnership with the United Nations Foundation to help all countries detect, prevent, and respond to the pandemic. This fund is dedicated to tracking and understanding the pandemic, ensuring patients get the care they need and that frontline workers get essential supplies and information, and accelerating efforts to develop vaccines, tests, and treatments.

“As global citizens, it was incredibly important for us to create a space for our customers to give back during these uncertain and unprecedented times,” says Deena Bahri, CMO of StockX. “Our community of buyers and sellers is a generous one that consistently steps up to help those in need. We are privileged to be able to leverage the StockX platform to afford our customers the chance to help us combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Participants can enter the raffle by making a $10 donation on any of the items in the campaign catalog. Every donation also automatically enters participants for a chance to win a prize box that will contain unique pieces from across the site. The raffle is currently open to residents located in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, China, and Japan. Proceeds will benefit the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the WHO, powered by the UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.

To make a donation and enter a chance to win, please click here.

Transportation
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel will close overnight (between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.) May 14, May 21, and May 28 as its ongoing $22 million renovation project resumes.

Otherwise the tunnel is open 24/7 to essential traffic only during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential travelers should be reminded that the tunnel is not accepting cash. They can pay via their Nexpress account, which can be opened here; by credit card on readers mounted on the exterior of each tollbooth; or by the DWT mobile app (search for NEXPRESS on the app store of your choice).

Education
Like other institutions of higher learning around the state, Eastern Michigan University will be instituting a test optional admission policy for fall 2020 applicants.

The new option is available and applies to incoming first-year domestic students entering in fall 2020 only.

“We’ve made this decision in recognition that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited students’ ability to participate in standardized testing,” says Alex Landen, interim associate director of first-year admission at Eastern. “We want to focus on creating educational opportunities that are accessible to our students as we continue to fill our role not only in academia but in our community.”

To be considered for test optional admission, a student must do the following:

  • Apply to Eastern Michigan University for free using the fee waiver code CARE at the admissions website.
  • Meet the minimum requirement of a 3.0 cumulative high school grade point average or higher (on a 4.0 scale) for consideration. Official transcripts are required for test optional consideration.
  • Opt in by completing the test optional admission form.

After students have completed these steps, they will be reviewed for admission by an EMU admissions officer. Test optional review will include an in-depth look at a student’s official academic record, examining academic coursework, grades received in core courses, and academic trends.

Students and families who have questions or would like to speak to an advisor should call 734-487-6453.

Junior Achievement
With schools closed and live programming activities cancelled for the foreseeable future, Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan, located in downtown Detroit, is offering new ways to further youth development and career preparation. Linda Morrell, development manager for Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan, says the nonprofit organization is offering more virtual programming for K-12 students, including:

  • Educational resources available to school districts for the balance of the 2019-2020 school year are free of charge. Information on the organization’s website is being updated continuously here.
  • JA Career Profileris offering an informative career assessment that matches middle and high school youth with top interest areas while filtering out careers in areas that don’t correlate to assessment outcomes. The career assessment provides a detailed report for youth, parents, and counselors to review here.
  • JA Career Pathways Videos: Junior Achievement, in partnership with regional businesses, is developing a video catalog to introduce JA participants to a wide array of career fields available locally today. The organization is developing more localized content in this area weekly and is asking employers to add content about their respective businesses. The link to the first beta video can be found here.

COVID-19 Signage
CG Detroit in Farmington Hills has developed a series of branded signage offerings for businesses and organizations that are open or soon will be opening their doors, including floor and sidewalk graphics, interior and exterior banners, window clings, drive-thru decals, pole signs, flutter flags, and wayfinding graphics. For more information, click here.

Disinfecting Vehicles
Clinton Township’s Jarvis Property Restoration is partnering with local municipalities to disinfect the personal vehicles of first responders at no charge.

“Many essential staffers are wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves and then getting into their car and taking them off,” says co-owner Bill Jarvis. “No one is thinking about the exposure inside the vehicle.”

Jarvis will disinfect the inside of the vehicles, which covers the high touch points and helps protect the spread of COVID-19.

The first opportunity for first responders to have their vehicles disinfected will be Friday, May 1 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Jarvis’ Clinton Township office located at 40700 Romeo Plank Road.

Anyone with questions or for information on future disinfecting sites, call 866-452-7847.

Pizza Donation
Detroit-based Little Caesars, which recently donated 1 million pizzas to health care workers and first responders, announced that its customers already have contributed an additional 125,000 pizzas to the effort by donating via their app and on LittleCaesars.com. The customer-donated pizzas are above and beyond the brand’s 1 million pizza commitment.

Customer contributions will go toward pizza servings at hospitals, police departments, and fire departments around the nation over the coming weeks. Delivery of the customer-donated pizzas will be coordinated by Little Caesars and its thousands of independent franchisees.

“As a family company, we wanted to thank our health care heroes in the best way we know how – by delivering millions of wholesome meals to them around the country,” says Dave Scrivano, president and CEO of Little Caesars. “The fact that so many of our customers have jumped on board to contribute even more shows that the spirit of kindness and generosity is alive and well, even during times of crisis.”

Helping the Homeless
The Pope Francis Center, a day center in Detroit that serves the homeless, says it is pleased to be the recipient of a $250,000 donation match to provide “Hope in Harrowing Times” — which will allow the nonprofit to continue providing critical and lifesaving services to hundreds of guests each day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From May 1-10, all donations up to $250,000 made to the Pope Francis Center will be doubled, dollar-for-dollar, thanks to business partners in the community.

Led by $75,000 establishing donations from the Ford Motor Co. Fund and Magna International, as well as a $50,000 gift from the J. Addison Bartush and Marion M. Bartush Family Foundation, these organizations, along with other businesses throughout southeast Michigan, are helping to ensure the needs of Detroit’s most vulnerable citizens are met during this crisis.

Pope Francis Center has continuously adapted and modified its existing services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide essential services for Detroiters experiencing homelessness.

In just the first few weeks of providing emergency relief, additional costs to feed, serve, and empower guests exceeded $45,000 — and before Pope Francis Center can return to its regular services, it will cost the nonprofit an additional $72,000 per month above normal operating expenses.

The day center also has increased from serving 200 to nearly 300 guests and providing 400-600 meals each day, Monday-Saturday.

“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, but its disproportionate effect on those with pre-existing health conditions and limited access to proper hygiene, medical care, and proper nourishment is undeniable — and that’s why we need to keep safely delivering our services to Detroiters experiencing homelessness,” says Fr. Tim McCabe, executive director of the Pope Francis Center. “Thanks to the help of our amazing business partners and community advocates, we can continue to add to our emergency fund so we can feed, serve, and empower our guests.”

Pope Francis Center has moved all of its operations outdoors to comply with social distancing recommendations — and now serves meals in sealed to-go containers. It also offers portable bathrooms and handwashing station, heated tents where guests can take shelter at a safe distance, regular medical care, and a mobile shower unit.

To donate online, click here. Donations also are accepted by phone at 313-963-5134 and by mail at 438 St. Antoine St., Detroit, MI 48226.

Recognizing High School Graduates
High School Glam Suite, a nonprofit dedicated to providing high school seniors the ultimate prom experience at no cost to them, will offer Glam Suite Graduation Boxes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Metro Detroit students experiencing adversity are invited to apply to receive a customized box this summer. The deadline to apply is May 17. High School Glam Suite is being sponsored by Project Beautiful-Inside and Out for the third consecutive year.

“When our board discussed this year’s school cancellation, we decided that despite not having a prom, these students still deserve to feel special,” says Kori C. Fields, founder of High School Glam Suite. “We know the Glam Suite Graduation Boxes cannot take the place of prom, but we want to make sure we create something memorable for our seniors.”

The goal is to customize each box to fit each students’ post-high school needs. For example, someone going to college may receive supplies for class or dorm must-haves, such as bedding or decor. A student headed to cosmetology school may receive an apron, shears, train case, and beauty magazine subscription.

The application to apply for the 2020 High School Glam Suite program is available here. Box distribution will begin in July.

Written by Tim Keenan and R.J. King for dBusiness magazine.