FLINT — Typically viewed as a time for rest and relaxation, the long days of summer can present challenges for families and children looking to fill those hours with safe, engaging activities that won’t stretch tight budgets. High-quality programming is particularly critical for school-age children and youths, many of whom can fall victim to the “summer slump,” which can have a negative impact on their academic performance as they return to school in the fall.
In Flint, families are coping with these and other summertime challenges by utilizing a variety of free and lowcost programs available throughout Genesee County. For almost 80 years, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has supported activities for children and young people in Flint and Genesee County — and this summer is no exception. If your news outlet is interested in taking a closer look at how local nonprofits are working to extend their services to those who need them, we’d be happy to connect you with staff from the organizations listed below, as well as the kids and families they serve:
Tot Lot: Possibly the granddaddy of all summer programs, the Flint Community Schools Tot Lot program has been helping 4- and 5-year-old children become socially and academically prepared for school for more than 60 years. This year, Tot Lot activities will be offered in 12 schools, five days a week for six hours a day from July 7 through August 8, 2014.
Mott grant support for 2014: $167,689.
Teen CEO Initiative: A seven-week entrepreneurial learning and leadership experience for 45 young people ages 14-18, Teen CEO has operated out of Mott Community College each summer since 2007. Mentored by local business professionals, the students identify a business idea, develop a business plan and learn how to make their idea operational. Upon completion, 15 participants are eligible to receive $1,000 in seed capital to launch their businesses.
Mott grant support for 2014: $68,000.
Summer Youth Initiative: Another long-running program providing job training and employment for Genesee County teenagers, the Genesee Area Focus Fund’s Summer Youth Initiative serves more than 600 students through its TeenQuest pre-employment training program and helps more than 500 students in grades nine through 12 find employment each year.
Mott grant support for 2014: $825,000.
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint: Offering year-round programming for more than 3,500 children ages 7-17, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint focuses on activities that increase children’s academic skills, creativity and physical fitness. Summer enrichment programs are offered at two locations: Flint’s Haskell Community Center and the Boys & Girls Club home facility on Averill Avenue.
Mott grant support for 2014: $160,000.
YouthQuest: Better known for its afterschool programs in 18 sites at all Flint Community Schools, two elementaries in Carman-Ainsworth, and International Academy of Flint, YouthQuest also serves approximately 1,000 students through six weeks of summer programming. Operated through the Genesee Area Focus Fund, YouthQuest helps students avoid the “summer slump” by providing a variety of academic, enrichment, leadership and physical fitness activities.
Mott grant support for 2014 (school year and summer): $3,100,000.
Pre-College Summer Residential and Academic Year Bridge Program: Piloted in 2010, this program for students in the Flint, Beecher and Westwood Heights school districts adds a new cohort of 45 ninth-grade students each year. This year, 230 students (grades eight through 12) will engage in summer activities, while 520 students (grades six through 12) will participate in academic year programming. Participants take part in a range of academic activities designed to help them complete high school and prepare for the transition to college.
Mott grant support for 2014: $415,700.
In addition to these programs, the Mott Foundation’s $1.8 million general support grant to the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission helps keep a number of summer activities operating at full capacity, including beaches, camping sites and other free or low-cost activities for children and families in Genesee County.
Public library services for children and families also will be available through the summer months at the Flint Public Library, which received $300,000 in general operating support from the Mott Foundation. The library, along with other institutions at the Flint Cultural Center, offers a variety of free and lowcost programs for patrons of all ages. — G.G.