Flint, Michigan — Local and state leaders gathered this morning on the campus of the Flint Cultural Center to break ground for a public, nonprofit charter school that will serve an estimated 650 students each school year in grades kindergarten through eight.
Expected to open in time for the start of the 2019/20 school year, the Flint Cultural Center Academy will offer students a unique educational experience that features daily activities and programs at the Cultural Center institutions — Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Flint Public Library, Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and The Whiting.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has committed up to $35 million to cover the costs of designing, constructing and outfitting the school, as well as making related improvements to the Cultural Center campus.
“The Flint Cultural Center Academy will build on the strengths of the Cultural Center institutions to create an experiential learning opportunity that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the region,” said Mott Foundation President Ridgway White. “It also will mark the next step in efforts to strengthen the education continuum in Flint — from cradle to college and career.”
The 78,000-square-foot school will feature 37 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria and kitchen. An adjacent exhibit and learning space will offer three multipurpose classrooms and provide students and staff with direct access to the Flint Institute of Music and Sloan Museum.
The idea for the school first emerged in 2015 as a logical next step in the Cultural Center’s long history of providing high-quality learning experiences, according to Mark Sinila, chief operating officer of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation, which helps to coordinate campus-wide projects, including the new school.
“Our goal for the Flint Cultural Center Academy is to engage students in science and the fine and performing arts in ways they otherwise might not encounter,” said Sinila. “Those experiences will reflect and reinforce the learning taking place in the classroom, and the result will be a cohesive, engaging and stimulating educational experience.”
A longtime supporter of the Cultural Center, the Mott Foundation previously granted $2.9 million for planning and development activities related to the new school. Grand Valley State University approved the school’s charter. EL Education, a national nonprofit organization specializing in K-12 education, will help the school create a curriculum and culture that support student engagement, achievement and character. The project’s lead design and construction partners are THA Architects Engineers and E & L Construction Group, Inc. — both Flint-based companies.
According to Sinila, in its first year the school will enroll a total of up to 300 students from kindergarten through the fifth grade. The following school year, grade six will be added, then grade seven in year three, and grade eight in year four. At that time, the school expects to enroll a total of up to 650 students each academic year.
Enrollment will be open to students living in Flint, Genesee County and — in accordance with state law for public charter schools — elsewhere in Michigan. If enrollment applications for a particular grade outnumber the available seats, students will be chosen by a lottery system.
Sinila emphasized that the Cultural Center institutions will continue to host field trips and conduct outreach programs that provide high-quality educational programming to students in Flint Community Schools and other districts.
“I know that I speak for my colleagues at the Flint Cultural Center when I say that we’re excited to extend our educational mission,” Sinila said. “We want to help more children in and beyond our hometown to learn, grow and succeed.”
Information about the application process to enroll a child in the Flint Cultural Center Academy will be available in early 2019.
The Flint Cultural Center Corporation is committed to ensuring that the Flint Cultural Center remains a vibrant and comfortable gathering place for residents and visitors. It cares for the Cultural Center campus grounds and buildings, coordinates campus-wide programs and events, and directly supports three organizations: Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and The Whiting. Learn more at www.fcccorp.org.
The Flint Institute of Arts (FIA) is Michigan’s second largest art museum and one of the largest museum art schools in the nation. The FIA’s mission is to advance the understanding and appreciation of art for all through collections, exhibitions and educational programs. For more information, visit www.flintarts.org.
The Flint Institute of Music (FIM) is proud to be one of the largest arts and educational organizations in Michigan. With programs that include the Flint School of Performing Arts, Flint Symphony Orchestra and the Flint Youth Theatre, the FIM enlightens, educates and entertains over 300,000 people each year. Learn more at www.thefim.org.
The Flint Public Library has served the community since 1851. Its vision is to be Flint’s go-to place to learn for life, with special emphasis on early childhood literacy, digital learning and being a community hub for dialogue, education and resources. Learn more at www.fpl.info.
Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium inspire youth, families and patrons to discover, explore and value science, technology and history through engaging learning experiences. Longway Planetarium is Michigan’s largest planetarium, offering science and astronomy shows every day of the week. Sloan Museum preserves the history of Flint and Genesee County, chronicled through over 600 artifacts on display, and presents traveling science and history exhibitions. For more information, visit www.sloanlongway.org.
The Whiting provides facilities, programs and services to promote and support the presentation of the best local, regional, national and international performing artists. Each year, The Whiting presents music, comedy, theater, dance and much more. The Whiting also is the performance home of the Flint Symphony Orchestra. For more information, visit www.thewhiting.com.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. Learn more at www.mott.org.