Program name change emphasizes a central theme of the C.S. Mott Foundation’s grantmaking

Two teen boys sit at a table working on their homework.
The Safe Harbor afterschool program in Michigan City, Indiana, puts a strong emphasis on STEM activities as a strategy to prepare their next-generation workforce. Photo: Rick Smith

On the cusp of its 90th year of grantmaking, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has reaffirmed its commitment to education as the most important pathway to opportunity, consolidating its national anti-poverty work under a plan approved by its Board of Trustees in September 2014.

“In looking back at the core work embedded in the Pathways to Opportunity plan — as well as our founder’s historic grantmaking interests — it became increasingly clear that the program’s name did not specifically reflect that focus,” said Neal Hegarty, Mott’s vice president of programs. Now officially known as Education, the program takes a broad vision of that grantmaking, grounded in four core principles:

  • Every child must have strong engagement with institutions of education at every level of academic development.
  • Every child must graduate from high school with a quality education.
  • Every young person needs some type of education or training beyond high school to succeed.
  • In bridging difficult life and academic transitions, all children and young people must have support from and connections to educational institutions, communities and employers to reach their full potential.

The name change is not accompanied by changes to the program objectives, said Hegarty. Rather it is a refinement to better reflect the reality of the Foundation’s and Charles Stewart Mott’s conviction that the best pathway out of poverty is a solid education.

For more than 80 years, the Foundation has funded a variety of strategies to enhance and amplify K-12 education, particularly in the areas of afterschool and summer programming. Last year, through its Advancing Afterschool portfolio, Mott granted $14 million to increase access to high-quality afterschool programs nationally.

“We believe our focus on issues like afterschool and summer learning opportunities, education savings accounts, and cross-programmatic work related to community education in our hometown of Flint, Michigan, and abroad represents an important and practical contribution to philanthropy’s education reform work,” Hegarty said.

“By using ‘Education’ as our program title, we also hope to signal that the kind of programs and initiatives we fund are critical to creating a quality educational experience,” Hegarty said.

“Initially, the grantmaking will concentrate on areas in which we have expertise and momentum. Going forward, our challenge will be identifying how the foundation can have the greatest impact in helping children and young people from underserved communities succeed academically and professionally.”