The literacy nonprofit Beyond Basics is hosting a Virtual Literacy Summit at 11 a.m. May 5. // Courtesy of Beyond Basics

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Beyond Basics to Host Virtual Literacy Summit May 5

Beyond Basics is hosting a Virtual Literacy Summit at 11 a.m. May 5, during which U.S. News & World Report Managing Editor Liana Loewus will moderate a panel discussion that addresses the crisis of illiteracy with a focus on proven solutions.

Members of the panel include Beyond Basics Co-Founder and CEO Pamela Good, Nick Nanton, the Emmy-winning director of “The Truth About Reading,” a documentary in which Beyond Basics is featured; and Ken Williams, a leadership trainer in the area of culture and equity.

To register for free and receive a Zoom link, visit here.

Fifth Third to Raise Minimum Hourly Wage to $20 on July 4

Fifth Third Bancorp announced it will raise its minimum wage to $20 per hour beginning July 4. Concurrently, the bank will provide a wage adjustment for its first four job levels that are above the bank’s new minimum wage.

In total, more than 40 percent of the bank’s workforce will receive a midyear compensation increase.

“This wage increase is simply the right thing to do,” says Tim Spence, president of Fifth Third Bancorp. “It will make a meaningful difference in the lives of our team members, who are the face of Fifth Third and who are impacted disproportionately by rising costs of living.

“Fifth Third led the industry in 2018 by increasing to $15 and was among the first to increase to $18. We are carrying our leadership forward with this additional wage and midyear pay increase. We are incredibly proud to be among the top quartile of our peers for employee retention according to leading research, and we believe our competitive compensation and benefits are essential to our ability to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest talent to serve and support our valued customers.”

Birmingham Farmers Market Begins 20th Season May 1

The Birmingham Farmers Market returns for its 20th season starting May 1 with an opening day celebration and other planned events throughout the season.

The market will be open every Sunday, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. May 1 through October 30. It is located in Public Parking Lot 6 at 660 North Old Woodward Ave. in downtown Birmingham.

In addition to weekly live music, a kid zone, and other festivities, the following special events are planned for this season:

  • May 1: 20th Annual Opening Day Celebration
  • May 8: Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • June 12: Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • June 26: Super Farmer Day
  • July 10: Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • 7: 20th Season Celebration
  • 14: Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • 11: Harvest Festival and Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • 9: Second Sunday (Fitness activity)
  • 30: End of Season Celebration

The Birmingham Farmers Market offers Michigan-grown produce subject to local growing patterns. By late spring, shoppers will find leafy greens, root vegetables, herbs, early organic vegetables, strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, mushrooms, green onions, sugar peas, and more.

The Birmingham Farmers Market Produce Guide can be found on its website with more information on seasonal produce availability. In addition to food, shoppers can also browse unique and stunning floral bouquets, hanging baskets, garden flats, and other plants.

Polaris Adventures Expands Membership Program to Michigan

Minneapolis-based Polaris Adventures is expanding its Select membership program available to Michigan and three other states.

This first-ever monthly membership program in the powersports industry allows members to rent vehicles without the cost and long-term commitment of ownership. Designed for those new to powersports as well as current riders wanting flexible riding options and access to a variety of vehicles.

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“The only thing more thrilling than driving the latest Polaris vehicle is being able to drive them all,” says Vic Koelsch, senior vice president, chief digital and information officer at Polaris. “We recognize that consumers are continuing to search for new ways to explore the outdoors and, through Polaris Adventures and the Polaris Adventures Select monthly membership program, we are making it easier and more accessible to adventure all year long. Members have complete freedom of where they want to go, the ultimate flexibility of how they want to ride and more value from an exclusive membership with endless benefits and perks.”

Participating Michigan Polaris outlets include:

  • 3 Wheel Rentals in Troy
  • County Wide Adventures in Harbor Springs
  • RZR Ripn’ Rentals in Saint Helen
  • Wildlife Refuge Cabins in Atlantic Mine
  • Best Bear’s Off-Road Adventures in Irons

Booking for Michigan is available now and riding will begin May 18 (weather dependent).

Interested riders can reserve their membership by visiting here.

Registration Now Open for Lee Group’s Small Business Workshop Virtual Series

The Lee Group will be conducting its eighth annual Small Business Workshop — with the theme “The Future is Now: The Roadmap to Recovery” — at 10 a.m. starting May 11.

Presented by Fifth Third Bank, the series will focus on business recoverability and sustainability with sessions on May 11, 18, 25, and June 1.

“The last two years have been truly a challenge for everyone, including small businesses,” says Mark S. Lee, president and CEO of the Lee Group. “We’ve seen small businesses struggle to survive. However, tools are in place to continue to fight COVID. We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have some distance to cover.”

The purpose of this year’s workshop is to focus on re-establishing a strong foundation, strengthening the small business core with an eye toward the future. The objective is to identify practical solutions businesses need to prepare for a post-COVID-19 world.

Attendees will hear from business experts, entrepreneurs, and community leaders who will discuss practical solutions businesses need to continue to navigate the pandemic while preparing and focusing on sustainability.

For more information, visit here and use the Small Business Workshop tab.

Total Health Care Foundation Grants $1.9M+ in Awards

Priority Health announced the next round of Total Health Care Foundation grants, totaling more than $1.9 million. The nine grant recipients share Priority Health’s vision in improving the lives of Detroit and southeast Michigan residents by addressing the social determinants of health (SDoH) facing their communities such as food and housing shortages, economic stability, and physical/mental health issues.

“Priority Health and the Total Health Care Foundation are thrilled to be able to invest in these organizations so they can continue to expand and push their initiatives forward to help address concerns within their communities,” says Shannon Wilson, vice president of State Markets, East at Priority Health and executive director of the Total Health Care Foundation. “We cannot wait to see what amazing things these organizations are able to achieve through these contributions to their causes.”

The recipients of this round of Total Health Care Foundation grants are:

  • Autism Alliance ($100,000)
  • Capuchin Soup Kitchen ($208,000)
  • Child Safe ($212,000)
  • Detroit Horse Power ($150,000)
  • Hannan Center ($100,000)
  • Michigan Economic Development Foundation ($250,000)
  • Ruth Ellis Center ($400,000)
  • THAW ($250,000)
  • Vista Maria ($285,000)
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Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are evaluated by the Total Health Care Foundation Board quarterly. Anyone interested in learning more about the Total Health Care Foundation or in applying for a grant, email [email protected]

Epiphany Glass Hosts Spring Open Studio May 7-8

Master glass artist April Wagner and her team at Epiphany Glass Studio in Pontiac will open their doors to the public May 7-8 to offer hourly glassblowing workshops, discounts on one-of-a-kind glass artwork, elegant glassware, colorful paperweights, and an array of pet-themed items benefitting the Michigan Humane Society.

Located at 770 Orchard Lake Road, Epiphany Glass’ workshops are a hands-on experiences where participants may choose their own glass colors before working with one of the professional studio artists to create a vibrantly colored pulled glass flower or solid sculpted heart in front of the 2000+-degree studio furnaces.

Adults and children (6 years and older) will use various hand tools and age-old techniques to create a glass sculpture of their own, while learning about the creation of glass art and the many forms it can take. Comfortable clothes and closed-toed shoes are recommended.

Space is limited, so registration in advance here is recommended. Workshops will be conducted on the hour and cost $95-$100 per person. For more information, call 248-745-3786.

Detroit Opera Premieres New Production of “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X”

Detroit Opera’s new production of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” directed by Robert O’Hara and conducted by Kazem Abdullah, will premiere at the Detroit Opera House on May 14 with additional performances on May 19 and 22.

Described by The New York Times as “a riveting and uncompromising work,” “X” pairs Anthony Davis’s American score with a libretto by Thulani Davis and story by Christopher Davis, casting an unflinching look at one of the most influential men in American history in all of his complexity.

Detroit Opera’s current artist-in-residence, Davóne Tines, appears as Malcolm X, marking the culmination of Tines’s residency in Detroit and his debut on the Detroit Opera House stage. Tines will be joined by Whitney Morrison, who takes on the role of educator and activist Betty Shabazz and Malcolm’s mother Louise Little, and by Victor Robertson as the characters Street and Elijah Mohammed. Ronnita Miller returns to Detroit Opera in the role of Ella. Making his production debut in the role of Young Malcolm is metro Detroiter Charles Dennis.

Detroit River Coalition Hosts Earth Day Art Exhibit at Belle Isle Aquarium April 22-24

The Belle Isle Conservancy and Detroit River Coalition are joining forces this Earth Day to present a mixed media art exhibition titled “Art + Earth” from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 22-24 at the Belle Isle Aquarium.

The show of community art is designed to evoke conversation and create connections between daily lives, communities, the environment, and climate justice.

The exhibition put out a call in January and received more than 90 submissions. As a result, the exhibition features 35 artists that represent a wide range of media under the themes: climate change, climate justice, Earth Day, environmental conservation, stewardship, intersectional environmentalism, marine debris, single-use plastic, ocean conservation, Great Lakes, and the Detroit River. There also is a Student Voices section featuring younger artists.

Special to the show is a dry tank exhibition designed by Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit called “Biomimicry on Belle Isle.”

“We are so excited to be able to feature a wide range of voices in our inaugural Earth Day exhibition,” says Genevieve Rattray Nowak, director of environmental initiatives and affairs for the Belle Isle Conservancy. “The show highlights many different diverse ideas towards climate change, and we can’t wait for the public to experience it.”

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Lighthouse Teams with Amazon to Deliver Meals to Families in Need

Lighthouse, a Pontiac-based nonprofit dedicated to building equitable communities that alleviate poverty, is partnering with Amazon to get emergency food and supplies to more local families in need.

The company is providing drivers – free of charge – to help pick up food boxes at Lighthouse’s emergency warehouse in Waterford and deliver them across Oakland County to residents who need them most. The program has successfully delivered 2,800 meals per week to local families for the last five months.

“This partnership is valuable in helping us respond to a critical need in the community,” says Angela Gill, food programs manager at Lighthouse. “Amazon providing additional resources helps us expand our program capacity and reach more people we may not have otherwise been able to serve.”

Before the pandemic, Lighthouse distributed food to approximately 225 local residents per week. With so many people out of work for extended periods, that need increased to more than 5,000 people per week. The need for drivers making food deliveries also grew significantly.

“At Amazon, we use our ability to innovate quickly to strengthen and support communities where we operate, and we’re glad to be able to connect families with meals directly to their doorstep,” says Bettina Stix, director of global product and volunteering at Amazon. “We are thrilled to partner with Lighthouse and use the Amazon’s global transportation network to help families who are experiencing food insecurity in the community.”

DNR Approves Land Gift Expanding Craig Lake State Park in Marquette County

The U.P. Land Conservancy has gifted nearly 1,300 acres of pristine highlands wilderness in Marquette County to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to protect the property from degradation and maintain public access.

“We are pleased to have this wonderful legacy donation to add to the very special Craig Lake State Park,” says Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

The property includes three parcels that made up the conservancy’s Peshekee Headwaters Nature Preserve, which lies along the eastern edge of Craig Lake State Park.

Among its attributes, the property contains nearly 90 percent of the watershed that fills Indian Lake, which is headwaters of the west branch of the Peshekee River, along with 10 miles of hiking trails that connect to the adjacent state park.

“The watershed, lake, and river are a source of freshwater that provides healthy drinking water and clean fish to eat, provides many kinds of safe recreation for the community and visitors, and supports healthy forest ecosystems downstream,” says Andrea Denham, executive director of the conservancy. “The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is the best partner in continued protection of this freshwater resource given the work they already do to protect forests and fresh waters in the Peshekee River Watershed.”

Under the transaction, the conservancy will pay $62,000 in back taxes on the property. After which, Marquette County will be eligible for payments in lieu of taxes on the land from the state of Michigan.

Michigamme Township unanimously supported a resolution in favor of the gift of land at their Nov. 8, 2021 township board meeting.

For more details about the land gift, visit here.

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