Mott Foundation looks for ‘right fit’ in grant funding

Jennifer Acree of the Mott Foundation speaks to the West Flint Business Association about the grant-making process.

Jennifer Acree of the Mott Foundation speaks to the West Flint Business Association about the grant-making process.

FLINT TWP. — Fielding about 3,000 requests for funding each year, the grant making team for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation puts careful thought into choosing which ones are the right fit, said Jennifer M. Acree, an Associate Program Officer, and member of the grant making team.

She was the guest speaker last week at the monthly meeting of the West Flint Business Association.

Acree joined the foundation in 2013 and is responsible for grant strategies in the Flint Area program with a focus on non-profits and community building.

She gave a brief history of the foundation and its cumulative grant contribution in Genesee County and also talked about the grant-making process and other community funding resources available to non-profits.

Founded in 1926, the C.S. Mott foundation awarded its first grant in 1928, it first national grant in the 1960s and its first international grant in the 1970s, Acree said.

All told, its given away $827 million to Flint-area programs including $41 million in 2013.

Flint Area programs get 30 to 35 percent of annual grant money spending, she said.

The YouthQuest after school program, Genesee County Parks, arts and culture and the Flint Area Reinvestment Office (FARO) efforts to secure state and national investments are just some of the local programs supported.

Acree noted that the Mott Foundation is considered more of a long-term grant maker, focused on projects that are funded over several years.

“We receive about 3000 inquiries a year, not just in Flint and Genesee County,’’ she said.

The seven-member grant making team carefully considers each request and gives an immediate reply to those it turns down.

“A lot of thoughtfulness goes into the decision-making process, it is not always easy,’’ she said.

She compared the process to her past experience as a college admissions officer.

“I always felt when denying a student that we were giving them the opportunity to find the right fit,’’ she said. “I feel the same way with grant making. We are not always the right fit.”

She recommended that any group thinking about applying for funding should first take a look at the foundation’s website to see what types of programs have been recently funded.

She also provided information about alternate local and national resources that grant seekers can approach for funding including the Ruth Mott Foundation and the Community Foundation of Flint. The Flint Public Library has a Foundation Center Library database open to the public and is an online service providing information about foundations.

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