Mott Foundation to grant $10 million to support expansion of Flint’s Berston Field House

This realistic rendering shows people walking in and out of the newly renovated Berston Field House building's back entrance.
An artist’s rendering shows plans for a renovated entrance to Berston Field House. Illustration: Courtesy of THA Architects

Flint, Michigan — The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation plans to grant $10 million to the city of Flint to support new construction and renovations at Berston Field House, a nearly 100-year-old community center on Flint’s north side.

The grant would help create a state-of-the-art community center with the capacity to serve more residents and host large festivals and events. The project, which is expected to cost a total of $26.4 million, includes a new gym, large community room, commercial kitchen, additional classrooms, updated offices for staff, and a fitness center that features a dance studio, walking track and boxing room. Plans also include a combined soccer, football and lacrosse field, as well as a baseball field.

“Berston has been a community gem since 1923,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “It’s exciting to think about how this project will help create the kind of space that staff, volunteers and residents deserve as they launch into their second century.”

A photo showing a man standing in front of the front entrance of the Berston Field House.
Bryant "BB" Nolden, executive director of the Friends of Berston, stands in front of the iconic community center. Photo: Sarah Schuch

Berston Field House welcomes more than 1,000 individuals each year, said Bryant “BB” Nolden, executive director of the Friends of Berston, a nonprofit organization that oversees operation of the facility for the community’s use. Berston serves all ages through a wide variety of opportunities, including youth sports, a renowned boxing club, a computer lab, meeting space, literacy resources, and outdoor concerts and festivals. It also offers programs for art, dance, gardening, youth mentoring, and exercise and line-dancing for seniors.

“There is no other place quite like Berston Field House. Deeply embedded in the community for generations, it continues as a beloved point of pride and hope — with an even greater future ahead,” Nolden said. “This grant helps bring our vision to life and serve even more Flint kids, families and residents. We can’t wait to get the work started.”

This new grant to the city is part of a focused effort by Mott to support improvements at multiple community centers throughout Flint. Other related grants in 2022 include:

  • $675,000 to the Evergreen Community Development Initiative to support upgrades at the Flint Development Center, including new playground equipment, basketball courts and boilers, as well as renovations to the building’s western wing.
  • $750,000 in grants to the city of Flint to support upgrades to buildings, systems and interior spaces at the Brennan and Hasselbring senior centers.
  • $575,000 to the Latinx Technology & Community Center to redevelop the organization’s second floor to provide additional space for community programs, staff offices, and youth and adult educational programming.

“Community centers are at the heart of Flint neighborhoods. We hope these grants will enable centers to worry less about physical improvements and focus more on what they do best — and that’s serving residents,” said Kimberly Roberson, director of Mott’s Flint Area grantmaking program. “We believe Berston’s expansion will be great for the city’s north side and all community members who enjoy spending time there.”