Grant focuses on expanding economic strength, opportunities

FLINT — Since its launch in 2006, the Prima Civitas Foundation has sought to help Michigan residents and leaders explore, understand and realize a new economic vision for the state.

The East Lansing-based organization will take those efforts to a new level this year, thanks to an $800,000 general purposes grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The grant will support efforts outlined in the organization’s new five-year strategic plan – dubbed PCF 2.0 – including the growth and expansion of:

 entrepreneurship among the state’s children, youth and adults;

 job training and placement resources for unemployed workers;

 community, municipal, and government redevelopment activities; and

 innovative alliances and networks that seek to keep talented people living and working in the state, spark growth in key industries and attract international investment to the state.

PCF 2.0 also signals an expanded geographic reach, as represented by the organization’s recent leadership transition. In February, Steven Webster, former vice president of Governmental Affairs at Michigan State University, assumed the role of chief executive officer at Prima Civitas. At the same time, Michael K. Brown, manager of the Flint Area Reinvestment Office (FARO), became the organization’s president. The university and FARO are both Mott grantees.

Webstersaid the expanded programming and new leadership solidifies Prima Civitas’ strong focus on mid-Michigan — including Mott’s home community of Genesee County — while expanding the organization’s reach throughout the Great Lake State.

“With the Mott Foundation and Michigan State University, Prima Civitas shares a vision for a more prosperous Michigan, a vision rooted in effective community development,” he said.

“We consider it a privilege to share the successful lessons learned in Flint and mid-Michigan with other communities across the state.”

Mott grantmaking to Prima Civitas has totaled nearly $2.9 million since 2007. In addition to funding for general operations, the Foundation has supported the organization’s efforts to lead the Mid-Michigan Innovation Team (MMIT). This network of people, projects and partners – representing the state’s education, labor, workforce, economic development and business communities – seeks to reinvent mid-Michigan’s industrial base, as well as strengthen and capitalize on the region’s assets of skilled workers and regional partnerships.

Mott also helps fund Moving Ideas to Market, an initiative designed to bring new spark to the entrepreneurial spirit that has long played a key role in Michigan’s economic fortunes. The initiative, coordinated by Prima Civitas and supported by a number of state and regional partners, is developing a pipeline of entrepreneurs in the state, beginning in grade school, continuing through postsecondary education and encompassing those who have already taken the entrepreneurial leap.

“As Michigan struggles with social and economic challenges, Prima Civitas is providing the programs and resources that help communities and families open doors and explore opportunities,” said Maureen H. Smyth, senior vice president for programs and communications at the Mott Foundation.”

Mott, established in 1926 by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the U.S. and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways Out of Poverty. Besides Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg (South Africa) and London.

The Foundation, with 2010 year-end assets of approximately $2.2 billion, made 492 grants totaling $92.9 million. Details: Visit G.G.

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