About the Grantee
The Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission maintains the largest county parks system in Michigan.
Roughly 500,000 people each year visit the system’s 21 parks, which include playgrounds and picnic areas, a historic village and authentic narrow-gauge railroad, an arboretum and nature preserve, bicycle motocross and off-road vehicle tracks, hiking and equestrian trails, boat and canoe launches, swimming and water parks and camping facilities. Many of the parks offer educational programs — often at low or no cost to participants — including fun learning opportunities for children during the summer months.
The Mott Foundation’s grantmaking related to the county parks has totaled more than $20.5 million since 1965.
Purpose of the Grant
Shrinking property taxes and other declining revenue have left Genesee County, including its parks, facing a major funding shortfall. The parks are funded primarily through a county property tax millage.
Through this grant, the county parks system will continue to provide visitors an array of quality recreational and educational programs and services. Examples include:
- Knee-High Naturalist, which offers a variety of nature-related hands-on learning activities to children ages 3 to 6 years.
- Christmas at Crossroads, which broke a 10-year attendance record in 2011 by attracting nearly 43,000 visitors to the historic village over 21 days.
- Warrior Dash, an outdoor obstacle course competition that brought more than 24,000 people from around the country to the park’s E.A. Cummings Center in 2012.
The Genesee County system provides an important financial boost to the community, with the parks and their visitors adding roughly $18 million to the local economy in 2011.
Like other public parks around the country that have been challenged with diminishing funding, the county parks system continues to explore ways to streamline and improve services while reducing costs. The parks’ large cadre of volunteers provides the equivalent of nearly $400,000 in labor each year. The commission also is leveraging the education and service resources of community partners, such as the Crim Fitness Foundation, the Genesee Intermediate School District and Michigan State University’s Extension Master Gardener program.
“While the Genesee County parks provide tremendous economic and environmental returns, their greatest value lies in the experiences of our visitors. At our parks, people find relief from the pressures of everyday life, and recreational opportunities that improve their overall health and well-being,” said Amy McMillan, the commission’s director.
“The Mott Foundation’s generous support makes it possible for us, even in a time of tremendous economic challenge, to continue providing the community with these wonderful and important experiences.”
Mott made similar grants to the commission in 2010 and 2011. The Foundation’s commitment to its hometown is further reflected in the more than $758 million that it has invested in the greater Flint area over the past 84 years — $24 million in 2011 alone. That funding has included support for programs serving children and youth; economic and downtown development; job training; public safety; and emergency and family services.
Read a Q&A with Mott Program Director Kimberly Roberson about the Foundation’s grantmaking in its home community.