The Michigan model operates as a partnership between Blessings in a Backpack, individuals, corporations, or organizations as the lead for their community, a School District, Meijer, corporations, and private citizens along with a Community Foundation as the fiscal oversight.
For each community, a Steering Committee is established. The makeup of the committee is concerned citizens, community leaders, school personnel, PTO members, and interested parents. The first responsibility of this committee is to oversee the program within their community. These responsibilities include; inventorying the food for the backpacks on a monthly basis, obtaining and scheduling adult and students volunteers to pack the backpacks and overseeing the packing process. The chairperson of this committee is the liaison with the School District, Michigan (BIAB-MI) Advisors and the Fiscal Sponsor.
The second focus for the Steering Committee is to work with the BIAB-MI Advisors, the Fiscal Sponsor and the community to ensure that this program has the necessary funding to continue each year.
BLESSINGS IN A BACKPACK-MICHIGAN ADVISORS
The purpose of the Michigan Advisors is to promote the Blessings in a Backpack program throughout the State of Michigan. These Advisors will interface with the Steering Committee established to run the program for your community. This will facilitate each program having access to information from the National Program including updated promotional and operational literature. The Michigan Advisors will also be in contact with other established programs within the State so that there is a sharing of ideas and solutions to concerns. BIAB-MI will also develop partnerships with organizations and corporations who would like to support this program on a State level and the program as a whole.
Without School District / School participation it would be very difficult to successfully run this program. The School District is already aware of which children are on the Federal Program for Free or Reduced Fee Lunch. Since these are the same children that would be helped by the Blessings in a Backpack Program, a partnership with the School District is essential. The schools also provide a safe and secure setting to distribute the backpacks. The School Districts are not asked to fund the program. We are asking each District to be a partner because they have access to the Board of Education, administrators, teachers and most importantly the children and their parents. We feel it is very important that the confidentially of the students and parents is maintained. Yes, there will some time spent by administration and the teachers for this project to be successful, but we feel we have developed the parameters to minimize the time required.
Meijer Grocery Store has agreed to partner with this program using area stores to provide the food supplies at deep discounts for the backpacks. When a program begins in a local community, if Meijer has a store in close proximity they are asked to partner with the program. Meijer has been instrumental in working with the Michigan Advisors to develop a varied menu within the project budget.
FISCAL MANAGEMENT AND OVERSIGHT
Community Foundations are unique because they have the ability to raise endowed funds that are then invested and subsequently used toward grants to fund organizations, promote educational opportunities, assist with human services and maintain a strong community. They are a perfect vehicle to partner with this program.
The Community Foundation of Greater Rochester is a publicly supported, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax exempt charitable organization whose goal is to enrich the quality of life for our regional community. They provide the fiscal management and oversight for many of the programs in Michigan. By partnering with the Foundation all monies raised for the local communities stays right here in Michigan for their programs.
Initially a Component Fund is established which pays for the monthly expenses for the program. An account is maintained for each community so the funds raised for each community are accountable to the Steering Committee. All donations that are received are deposited into this account.
A stable long-term funding source is needed to fund this program. The Foundation’s recommendation is to develop and manage a designated endowment fund for each community as this funding source. This ensures that the funding will be in place for all future years.
A strong, vibrant and engaged community can accomplish so much. If each community member contributes a small amount, together, we can ensure thriving children and America’s future.
Without the help of Community Partners, the Blessings in a Backpack program would never be able to assist as many children as it does. Support from corporations and community organizations are critical to the program’s success. If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a Blessings in a Backpack Partner, please contact BIAB-MI to learn about the many benefits and learn how you or your company can make a difference.
We would like to thank the many Community Partners that have already stepped forward in support of the children. To view our Community Partners click here.