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October 18, 2011

Contact: Carol D. Rugg, 810.238.5651,

C.S. Mott Foundation makes $1.56-million grant to bridge funding gap for Genesee County parks

FLINT, Mich. – In an effort to help maintain and strengthen Michigan’s largest county parks system, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has made a $1.56-million grant to the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission.

The support comes as shrinking property taxes and other declining revenue have left the county, including its parks, facing a major funding shortfall. The parks are funded primarily through a county property tax millage.

Mott made a similar grant of $1.27 million to the commission in 2010. The Foundation’s grantmaking related to the county parks has totaled more than $19 million since 1965.

“At a time when many area families have limited financial resources, Genesee County’s parks offer affordable, high-quality recreational and learning opportunities,” said Foundation President and CEO William S. White.

Stepping Stone Falls is among the popular stops in the Genesee County Parks.Stepping Stone Falls is among the popular stops in the Genesee County Parks.
“We’re pleased to support the commission’s work in building and maintaining the parks as valued community assets for everyone to enjoy.”

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 parks and their visitors also provide an important financial boost to the community, adding more than $16 million to the local economy in 2010.

The cumulative impact is vital to the community’s well-being now and into the future, says Amy McMillan, the commission’s director.
“The Mott Foundation, through its leadership, helped develop the original vision for these magnificent county parks,” said McMillan.

“We are honored and tremendously grateful to be the stewards of that vision and of the ongoing support from Mott and the greater Flint community. That support reflects the crucial role that the parks, decades after they first welcomed visitors, continue to play in the lives of area families.”

Like other public parks around the country that have been challenged with diminishing funding, the Genesee County system continues to explore ways to streamline and improve services while reducing costs. For example, McMillan says 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.

The Mott grant reflects the Foundation’s longstanding commitment, especially in times of economic uncertainty, to help its home community of Genesee County address local needs. That support over the last year has included grants for large-scale economic and community development initiatives, as well as for such basic “safety-net” services as food distribution programs and shelters for homeless families.

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