Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

November 26, 2012

Foundations taking hands-on approach to health

Nonprofits seek to get Michiganders up and moving

DETROIT (AP) — Some nonprofit foundations have decided to take a hands-on approach to getting Michigan residents off their couches and into the world of active, healthy living.

In addition to awarding grants, The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Knight Foundation have joined forces for a project called Mode Shift, which seeks to encourage people to bike, walk and do other activities to improve their well-being.

This year, the Community Foundation launched a new website, . Eventually, the site will contain trail maps, information about bike-friendly retailers and a debate forum on all manner of topics related to outdoor activity. It currently has links to legal and education resources and news updates.

Mode Shift also sponsors events such as the annual Tour de Troit bike ride through Detroit.

Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation, told the Detroit Free Press ( ) that Mode Shift marks an attempt by her organization to more directly promote healthy lifestyles, instead of simply writing checks to health-related groups.

"You've got to do something to get people out and active," Noland said. She said Mode Shift as "our first major venture in seeing how we can use these tools to change behavior." She added, "Hopefully it will be a huge, huge, huge success because that may impact how we do our work in the future."

The Mode Shift effort is part of a broader effort by foundations to more directly influence outcomes hands-on in their communities.

In recent years, the Kresge Foundation has been a major funder of the Detroit RiverWalk and the proposed M-1 light rail line in Detroit. Troy-based Kresge recently opened a Detroit office in Midtown to engage with people who are helping the city's rebuilding efforts.

Likewise, the Bloomfield Hills-based Erb Foundation gave the proposed RecoveryPark urban farming initiative in Detroit a four-year, $1-million grant, part of an effort to promote healthy eating and economic development in the city.

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