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, a historic carousel, 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 also provide 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 $22.55 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:
- For-Mar on the Road, a nationally-recognized program that brings interactive science-based learning activities to classrooms and other locations throughout Genesee County.
- Christmas at Crossroads, which continued to break attendance records in 2012, attracting nearly 45,000 visitors to the historic village over 24 days.
- Warrior Dash, an outdoor obstacle course competition that brought more than 26,000 people from around the U.S. and several other countries to the park’s E.A. Cummings Center in July 2013.
The Genesee County system provides an important financial boost to the community, with the parks and their visitors adding roughly $16 million to the local economy in 2012.
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 leverages 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.
“With 11,000 acres of incredibly diverse natural features, the county parks are an important driver of quality of life in the region. They provide visitors with safe, welcoming places where they can play, learn, relax and have fun, oftentimes just minutes from where they live,” said Amy McMillan, the commission’s director.
“The Mott Foundation’s support is critical to our ability to provide those life-enriching experiences and to keeping the parks a treasured community asset that benefits the residents of Genesee County and beyond.”
Mott has made similar grants to the commission each year since 2010. The Foundation’s longstanding commitment to its hometown is further reflected by the more than $786 million it has invested in the greater Flint area over the past 85 years — $31.85 million in 2012 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.