Chaldean Community Foundation acquires The Chaldean News

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Chaldean Community Foundation Martin Manna Paid undisclosed amount to shareholders who also donated portion of paper’s value Newspaper is profitable, has circulation of about 10,000 Foundation will reinvest profits to expand coverage of important local, national issues

The Chaldean Community Foundation has acquired The Chaldean News for an undisclosed amount. Founded 15 years ago, the monthly newspaper has a circulation of about 10,000 and more than 20,000 active monthly digital readers. It was previously owned by several different shareholders, including Michael Sarafa, managing partner of Birmingham private equity firm Vision Growth; and Vanessa Denha-Garmo, who served as co-publisher and editor in chief, said Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation. Those shareholders donated a part of the paper’s value, and the foundation paid the remainder, he said. Ad revenue for the Farmington Hills-based newspaper increased 30 percent last year, and it was profitable, generating more than enough to cover costs, Manna said. But its shareholders were considering options, including converting it to a nonprofit or selling it to other investors, Manna said. “We felt it made most sense to remain a community publication, run by a community foundation,” he said. “We’re going to invest (profits) to improve the digital publication and expand coverage.” The Sterling Heights-based foundation wants to provide more local news, coverage of the large Chaldean American population near San Diego and the teachings of the Chaldean Catholic Church, along with expanded, in-depth coverage and education on national issues impacting the Chaldean community such as the upcoming census, the presidential election and federal policies and Middle Eastern events affecting the Chaldean community, Manna said. Just this week, The Washington Post, New York Times and Boston Globe have been in town covering the Chaldean community, its political views and the deportations impacting the community, he said. “We want to tell our own story and help our community understand … important issues that impact our community,” Manna said, Metro Detroit is home to more than 160,000 Chaldeans. The community contributes more than $11 billion annually to Michigan’s economy, according to the Chaldean Community Foundation. The organization is the largest Chaldean community organization in the U.S. and has become the major planning organization for the Chaldean community nationally, Manna said. Operating on an $8.5 million annual budget, it provides social, educational and immigration services to more than 30,000 people each year. It’s in the midst of building an expansion to its Sterling Heights community center and has raised $5.3 million of the $8 million needed to fund the project. Next spring, it plans to break ground on an affordable housing development a few miles to the northeast. Beyond the services it provides, the foundation also manages about $2 million in affiliated scholarship, health care and loan funds for the community. And it’s advocating on behalf of Chaldeans who have been detained by the federal government and are awaiting deportation. There are large Chaldean populations in Oakland and Macomb counties, with older, fluent populations and newer refugee populations still learning English, Manna said. “We are best positioned to reach all of those communities … we serve so many members of the community already,” he said. In addition to expanding community coverage at The Chaldean News, the community foundation is considering rolling out a bilingual section, launching an app and offering more digital services. Its staff of five will remain with the newspaper, which operates from leased space on Northwestern Highway near Inkster Road in Farmington Hills. Manna said there are plans to hire a yet-to-be-determined number of employees as the newspaper expands its coverage. “What we will have is more resources,” Manna said. “Being a nonprofit, I think there might be some grant opportunities” to support coverage, he said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity, given the support from the New Economy Initiative to the weekly ethnic papers that are part of New Michigan Media.”