FLINT — The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has surpassed $1 billion in total grantmaking related to the greater Flint area since the organization was established in 1926. Adjusted for inflation, the figure would be more than 2.3 billion in 2016 dollars.
A $3.2 million grant to the Crim Fitness Foundation for ongoing support of a community education initiative put the Foundation over the milestone. Mott is the major funder of the initiative, which was launched in 2014 as a pilot program at Flint’s Brownell- Holmes STEM Academy and has since expanded to all 11 schools in the Flint Community Schools district. Crim coordinates efforts among the many community partners involved in the initiative.
“Since the day my great-grandfather created our foundation, we’ve been committed to Flint,” said Mott Foundation President Ridgway White. “It seems especially fitting that the grant that put us over the $1 billion mark locally supports something he cared about so deeply — community education.”
In 1935, Charles Stewart Mott and Frank Manley, a local educator, began using neighborhood schools as hubs for citizen engagement after school hours. The success of this “lighted school house” model helped spark an international movement in community education.
In Flint, the modern-day model provides students with high-quality educational and enrichment opportunities, nutritional support, physical activity, sports, mindfulness exercises and more. In addition, community health workers reach beyond the walls of the school to help students, their families and other residents access a wide range of health and medical services, as well as resources that can assist with basic needs, such as food, clothing and housing. Adult residents can sign up for exercise classes and take courses to help them pass the GED test and earn their certificate of high school equivalency.
“Community education has never been more important in Flint than it is right now, when the city is working to recover from the water crisis,” White added. “In addition to educating kids, Flint Community Schools are serving as vital hubs for services and places for people to connect with one another.”
“Crim is honored to be the recipient of this milestone grant and part of Mott’s legacy in the community,” said Crim CEO Gerry Myers. “The fact that the community education initiative and many other local programs and agencies were already here and poised to respond when the Flint water crisis hit speaks volumes about the Mott Foundation’s decades-long partnership with Flint. The community still faces a lot of challenges, but we’re in a better position to deal with them because of Mott.”
“This grant to support community education is vital to helping us serve students, families and all residents of Flint,” said Bilal Tawwab, superintendent of Flint Community Schools. “This isn’t just a program that we implement. It’s our name. It’s who we are. It’s how we do school.”
Today’s announcement marks the third major milestone for the Foundation in just over a year. As it celebrated its 90th anniversary in June 2016, Mott also announced it had surpassed $3 billion in total grantmaking at home and around the world. With the grant announced today, nearly a third of the Foundation’s total grantmaking has gone to its home community.
“From community education to afterschool programs, and from the city’s public library and arts and cultural institutions to the county parks system, we hope everyone in Flint and Genesee County benefits from the organizations, programs and projects we fund,” said William S. White, chairman and CEO of the Foundation. “Flint is our home. We’ve been here for 90 years, and we’ll be here for the next 90.” – G.G.