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One Million Dollars-Plus for Michigan's Marginalized

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women's health graphic   Courtesy of:
women's health graphic Courtesy of:
October 11, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - When Michigan philanthropist Twink Frey taught elementary school early in her professional life, she encouraged girls to speak up for themselves. Over the years, through her Nokomis foundation, she promoted economic self-sufficiency for women and their families. By the end of 2014, she plans to close the doors of the foundation. However, foundation president Mary Alice Williams says, Frey does not want to leave behind those who are marginalized.

"She's a believer in the 'giving while living' philosophy of philanthropy. She wanted to do something significant to, as she calls it, 'carry on the fight.'"

On Wednesday night, Nokomis announced a gift of more than $1 million to the Michigan League for Public Policy, a non-partisan group with a mission to research and advocate for such things as economic security and health care.

Williams says they are particularly concerned about the lack of movement on setting up the Michigan health insurance exchange. Legislation establishing it passed with bi-partisan support in the state Senate, but stalled in the House. If no exchange is set up by January, Michigan loses out on millions of federal dollars to help people find affordable health care.

Williams blames term limits in Michigan for gridlock in its legislature.

"There are a lot of novices in the house. They've run on either tea party or quasi-tea party platforms, and they're just determined to not make anything happen."

Williams says the non-partisan Michigan League for Public Policy plays an important role for those who are trying to create inclusive public policy.

"Somebody who is on the ground keeping an eye on these issues can research them with integrity, and then provide the public education that is necessary to build the will."

The gift was announced as the League celebrated its 100th anniversary. On top of the $1 million gift, Frey offered a half-million dollar challenge grant, which will match every dollar raised with two dollars through January 2014.

The Michigan League for Public Policy had been known as the Michigan League for Human Services, but changed its name to more accurately reflect its work.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MI