Advocacy Blue Arrows


Michigan Prosperity Agenda: Philanthropy Making a Difference in Michigan Communities

Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

As cities deal with tight budgets and look for creative ways to provide the amenities that make communities healthy, happy and viable places for Michigan residents to live, municipal leaders are getting a helping hand from philanthropic foundations. Around the state, almost every city has benefited from foundation grants, whether for the arts, education, parks, healthy lifestyles, or other areas. On this month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show we talk to the people who work for the foundations that do so much good in our communities, and we talk with those who have received philanthropic support. This month’s guests are Karen Aldridge-Eason, foundation liaison for the State of Michigan on loan from the C.S. Mott Foundation; Renee Johnston, president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation; Cathleen Edgerly, director of the Howell Downtown Development Authority; and the League’s own Samantha Harkins, President of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation.

THIS MONTH’S SHOW airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26 on News/Talk 760 WJR, and you can listen by clicking the links below. Listen as we talk about the upcoming conference and how to build better Michigan communities.

View past radio shows here.

Listen to the full show: (37:50)


Dan Gilmartin

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, explains that the Prosperity Agenda radio show is about challenging listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play. Gilmartin said having vibrant and prosperous local communities is a key factor.

- Dan Gilmartin explains this month’s show. (1 minute)


Karen Aldridge-Eason

Karen Aldridge-Eason is the Foundation Liaison for the State of Michigan on loan from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Aldridge-Eason works with the governor, Executive Office staff, state officials, foundations and non-profits to increase strategic partnerships between state government and foundations aimed at improving public policy. Karen talks about how her office originated and some of its accomplishments.

- Karen reveals where Michigan ranks nationally in terms of philanthropic giving. It might surprise you. Listen to find out. (8:44)

Chuck Marohn

Renee Johnston

Reneé Johnston is president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation. She is a Saginaw native who spent nearly a decade working with Delphi Corporation in Saginaw and Troy before joining the Saginaw Community Foundation in 2004. She was honored with a Ruby Award in 2005 and was named the Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2008. She has played a role in the development of the Heroes for Kids fundraiser; Saginaw County’s Promise; the Youth First program; City of Hope Committee; Downtown Saginaw Association; Step Up Saginaw; and the Deindorfer Woods Park restoration. Renee talks about how the Saginaw Community Foundation is a leader in working with community foundations as they evolve into community and economic development leaders.

- Renee discusses how community foundations like her organization work with corporation foundations to help address local needs. (8:52)

Marcus Peccia

Cathleen Edgerly

Cathleen Edgerly joined in the Howell Downtown Development Authority as director in April of 2014. She loves to be actively engaged in the downtown community, working with people, and focusing on the continued promotion, economic development, preservation, and overall awesomeness of downtown. As an experienced marketing professional, and graduate of Michigan State University, Cathleen recently served as the Communications and Marketing Manager for Downtown Lansing's Main Street Program for close to three years. She talks about the reliance that the Howell Main Street has on local support and the role foundations play in that support.

- Cathleen reveals what it takes to get new events up and running and the importance of events in helping a community thrive. Hint: "Crowds attract crowds." (10:05)

Joe Borgstrom

Samantha Harkins

Samantha Harkins is the director of Michigan Municipal League Foundation. She joined the League in February of 2008 as a Legislative Associate.  In 2011, she was honored in the Inside Michigan Politics Lobbyist Survey by being ranked in the top 20 for Individual Lobbyist as well as ranked number 2 in the Individual Single Interest Lobbyist category. In late 2013, she was on Crain’s Detroit Business List of People in Politics to Watch in 2014. Harkins discusses her work with the League Foundation and its work in creating and maintaining great places throughout the state.

- Samantha discusses some of the foundation work happening all over Michigan. The League Foundation, in particular, helps foster networks between a range of funders, advocates and people who love where they live. She specifically discusses a great project happening in mid-Michigan. Listen to find out which one. (9:04)


July 22, 2015: Festivals Helping Create Sense of Place in Our Communities

June 24, 2015: Michigan is Redeveloping its Way to Economic Vibrancy

May 27, 2015: Farmers Markets Helping Michigan’s Communities, Economys

April 22, 2015: Building Better Communities

March 25, 2015: A Conversation with Governor Snyder about Proposal 1 Program Explores How to Make a Better Michigan

Feb 25, 2015: What Made You Fall in Love with Your Michigan Community?

Jan 28, 2015: Attracting and Retaining Talent Vital to Michigan’s Future

Dec 29, 2014: Strong Town Strength Test

Nov 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Efforts Helping to Move Michigan Forward

Oct 22, 2014: Placemaking Stories Detailed in New League Book

Sept 24, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

Aug 27, 2014: The Economic Development Role that Arts and Culture Play in a Community

July 23, 2014: What We Can Do to Make Michigan More Immigrant-Friendly

June 25, 2014: Placemaking and Michigan's Aging Population

May 28, 2014: A Conversation from the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit!

April 23, 2014: Revenue Sharing and the Importance of Investing in Communities

Mar 26, 2014: Crowdfunding Movement; Making a Better Michigan

Feb 26, 2014:Placemaking is a vital part of making our state prosperous again

Jan. 22, 2014:Jobs, jobs and more jobs

Dec. 20, 2013:“PlacePlans” effort taking hold and improving communities across the state

Nov. 27, 2013:The National Media’s Perspective on What is Happening in Detroit

Oct. 23, 2013:The League’s efforts toward an urban policy agenda that moves Michigan toward prosperity

Sept. 25, 2013:Strategic lessons on placemaking from the League’s annual conference in Detroit

Aug. 21, 2013:Michigan’s Port Communities – a Vital Element in the State’s Economic Prosperity

July. 24, 2013:Michigan cities and downtown centers experiencing population growth despite challenges

June. 26, 2013:Complete Streets – Designing roadways to accommodate all users, not just motorists

May. 22, 2013:Engaging citizens is vital to creating prosperous communities

Apr. 24, 2013: Repurposing Property Through Private and Public Partnerships to Revitalize Communities

Mar. 27, 2013: Town-Gown Partnerships Between Cities and Universities Helping to Move State Forward

Feb. 27, 2013: Retiring Baby Boomers Provide Opportunity to Communities

Jan. 23, 2013: Aging in Place

Dec. 26, 2012: Placemaking in Michigan – A Year in Review

Nov. 26, 2012: What is Placemaking and What is MSHDA’s Role in It?

Oct. 24, 2012: Embracing Green Technology in Neighborhood Revitalization

Sept. 26, 2012: Entrepreneurs are Key to Economic Turnaround

August 22, 2012: The MIplace Partnership Initiative Improving Cities and Neighborhoods

July 25, 2012: Arts and Culture Important to Placemaking

June 27, 2012: Entrepreneurs Key to Thriving Michigan Communities

May 23, 2012: Attracting Talent Key to Michigan's Future

April 25, 2012: How Do We Bring it Back to Michigan?

March 28, 2012: Vibrant Michigan Downtowns Good for Business

Feb. 18, 2012: Making Our State More Sustainable

Jan. 25, 2012: The Benefits of Federal Funding for Neighborhood Stabilization

Dec. 29, 2011: The Year in Review

Nov. 27, 2011: Transportation in the State and the Role it Plays in Michigan's Future Economic Prosperity

Oct. 26, 2011: League’s Recently Released Book Emphasizes Quality of Place to Michigan’s Economic Prosperity

Sept. 26, 2011: How will Michigan’s foreclosure crisis impact the state’s future prosperity

August 24, 2011: League Releasing Book Emphasizing Quality of Place

July 27, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

June 22, 2011: What's Happening in Detroit and Other Communities to Make Michigan Better

May 25, 2011: Why Transit Matter's to Michigan's Future Prosperity

April 27, 2011: Why Place Matters to Michigan's Future Prosperity

Mar. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and What it Means for Michigan

Feb. 23, 2011: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Proposed Budget and the Potential Impact on Michigan Cities

Jan 26, 2011: Civic Engagement and Getting People Involved in the Community

Dec 23, 2010: Why Higher Education is Among Main Pillars for Building Michigan's Future

Nov 24, 2010: New Leadership and the Impact on Jobs, Education and Quality of Life

Oct 20, 2010: Michigan Governor Candidates Talk Cities

Sept 23, 2010: Economic Development and Entrepreneurship

Aug 25, 2010: Green Initiatives

July 28, 2010: Economic Gardening

June 23, 2010: Rightsizing Cities

May 26, 2010: Attracting and Retaining Talented Young People

Apr 28, 2010: The New Urban Neighborhood

Mar 24, 2010: Arts, Entertainment and Culture

Feb 24, 2010: Talking Transit

Jan 27, 2010: Making a Better Michigan





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