Funding from the DTE Energy Foundation will support 45 shelters across Michigan to bolster the organizations as they respond to a surge in domestic violence cases during COVID-19.
The foundation based in Detroit said Tuesday that it will award $1 million in grants to all 45 domestic violence shelters funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to help alleviate the significant financial and operational stress the shelter system has sustained due to COVID-19.
These grants — awarded in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month — are meant to better position shelters to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors during the pandemic and to continue to provide the sanctuary, resources and support survivors need to find hope, resiliency and healing.
“At the DTE Foundation, our aspiration is to be a force for good in communities across Michigan, and achieving that aspiration begins and ends with developing stable households and families,” said Lynette Dowler, president of DTE Energy Foundation. “That’s why we’re taking a stand and expanding our commitment to addressing the basic human needs of domestic violence survivors, including children, across Michigan. Through the DTE Foundation’s $1 million commitment — and partnerships with shelters statewide — we’ll continue to create new pathways to safety and independence for survivors, and ultimately a healthier, more vital Michigan.”
For many domestic violence survivors, the pandemic has worsened dangerous situations statewide. The increased time survivors and perpetrators have spent in their residences during the pandemic has, in general, expanded perpetrators’ access to survivors and reduced survivors’ opportunities to call for help.
“One in four women and one in seven men will experience abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetimes; that means our very own friends, family members and colleagues are represented in these statistics,” Dowler said. “Their stories often go untold, but today, through our voices and platform, the DTE Foundation once again declares this is simply unacceptable. We’ll continue to use our resources and influence to bring conversations about domestic violence to light, reduce the stigma associated with discussing this epidemic and speak loudly and passionately on behalf of those whose voices are often unheard.”
Domestic violence shelters in Michigan are struggling to meet demand for services and support and to cover new expenses driven by the pandemic. These expenses include increased cleaning and sanitization; COVID-19 testing; heavier reliance on hotels and motels due to reduced bed counts required to meet safety guidelines, as beds are down about 50% statewide; and canceled/postponed fundraising, among other factors.
“COVID-19 has forced shelters and service providers to adapt daily to the ever-evolving and unpredictable nature of a global pandemic,” said Debi Cain, executive director, division of victim services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “The steadfast support of our partners at the DTE Energy Foundation helps ensure local service agencies continue the important work of advocating for and providing resources to domestic violence survivors and their families throughout Michigan.”
Grants of $10,000 or more will be awarded to Michigan’s 45 MDHHS-funded shelters based on bed count. These grants will support critical expenses at each shelter and allow shelters to deliver holistic survivor-centric services and support that develop independence and empowerment. These initiatives include but are not limited to employment, housing and transportation assistance, and support services that help survivors navigate the complex criminal justice and health care systems — two primary barriers to independence.
The funding also will help shelters develop and deploy domestic violence awareness and prevention initiatives, engage employees and members of their local communities, and motivate other organizations to support this cause.
Domestic violence shelters in West Michigan that are eligible to receive DTE Foundation grants:
- S.A.F.E. Place, Battle Creek
- Children and Family Services of Southwestern Michigan/Safe Shelter Inc., Benton Harbor
- YWCA of West Central Michigan, Grand Rapids
- Resilience, Holland
- RAVE – Ionia/Montcalm
- YWCA of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo
- Every Woman’s Place, Muskegon
- Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services, Three Rivers
A full list and more information are online.