Ten Philanthropies Will Help Flint Recover and Rise from Water Crisis

Foundations plan to commit nearly $125 million to support health, education and economic development

Red Cross volunteers map out routes for delivering water to Flint residents
Red Cross volunteers map out routes for delivering water to Flint residents.

Flint, Michigan — Ten foundations today announced they will work together to help the city of Flint recover and rise from its water crisis. Participants plan to commit a total of nearly $125 million to the collaborative effort.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, FlintNOW Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Hagerman Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, Skillman Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation are initial supporters. Additional partners are expected to announce their support soon.

“Flint’s water crisis is far from over. While some funds and services have been provided, we’re still waiting for the state and federal governments to step up, replace damaged infrastructure and make long-term commitments to the health and education of children,” said Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is headquartered in Flint. “Today our foundations are stepping in to help. We envision a vibrant Flint with a robust economy, dynamic culture, and healthy, thriving residents, and we’re committed to achieving these goals.”

The collaborative funding initiative will focus on six priorities. Each will be supported by one or more of the participating philanthropies.

  • Ensuring That all Flint Residents Have Safe Drinking Water — As government works to replace damaged infrastructure, foundations will fund ongoing, independent water testing. Some of the funds will support experts who will work to ensure that the community will benefit from a 21st century approach to the efficient, integrated management of drinking water, storm water and waste water.
  • Meeting the Health Needs of Flint Families — As one part of efforts to support the health needs of Flint families, there will be a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $5 million on donations made to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund through December 31, 2016. The fund was established at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint with an initial donation from Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, whose research on elevated blood lead levels among Flint children demonstrated the severity of the crisis. It’s intended to provide support over the next 20 years for interventions that will help Flint children overcome the effects of lead exposure. It’s estimated that such long-term interventions will require at least $100 million in support. Prior to the $5 million matching grant, the Community Foundation already had succeeded in raising $6 million for the fund, and has thus far granted $263,000 of that amount. Grants from the fund are advised by a committee of community members, including representation from residents, Hurley Children’s Hospital, Mott Children’s Health Center, Greater Flint Health Coalition, United Way of Genesee County, and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
  • Supporting Early Education — To help ensure that children age 6 and under in Flint will have access to Early Start, Head Start and Great Start Readiness programs, the initiative will help to identify and prepare classroom, playground and other space to house these early education programs, while the state of Michigan is expected to provide funding for the programs themselves.
  • Building a More Robust Non-Profit Sector — Local community organizations have been heroic in their response to Flint’s water crisis, and they are stretched thin as a result. The funding initiative will support the area’s nonprofit partners and help them expand their ability to serve the needs of local residents.
  • Promoting Community Engagement — Flint residents must have a voice in planning the city’s dynamic future. By promoting civic engagement and local decision-making, the initiative aims to guarantee that people with the closest ties to the community will have the greatest say in determining its future.
  • Revitalizing Flint’s Economy — After decades of decline, the local economy had just begun to show initial signs of recovery when the drinking water crisis dealt another major blow. The initiative will restart and accelerate progress, dedicating significant resources toward forging a new economic future for the city and region, supporting job training and entrepreneurship, and building on Flint’s cultural and creative heritage.

“The residents of Flint have endured an unimaginable crisis with grace, perseverance and resolve,” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation. “Philanthropy has a responsibility to assist community organizations and the people of Flint and elevate the national discussion on issues including aging infrastructure, civic engagement and capacity, social justice and public health.”

The 10 founding sponsors of the collaborative funding initiative are:

  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, committing up to $50 million over the first year and up to $100 million total over five years, with grants across all six priority areas, as well as investments in K-12 education.
  • FlintNOW Foundation, committing continued support from a $10 million pledge to aid in a broad range of relief and revitalization efforts in Flint. To date, FlintNOW has helped generate millions of dollars in aid for a variety of short- and long-term programs focused on immediate relief, children’s health and education, and long-term economic development.
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation, committing up to $5 million over the next year to support children’s education, health and well-being, backed by significant investments in community engagement.
  • The Kresge Foundation, committing up to $2.5 million for operations and recovery programs of select nonprofit partners, grants that build on the Foundation’s expertise in community development, health, and human services, and exploration of future support to enhance civic capacity and community engagement.
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York, committing $1 million to support the educational needs of children in Flint.
  • Ford Foundation, committing $1 million over three years to the health needs of the Flint community.
  • The Hagerman Foundation, committing $1 million over the first year to support the non-profit sector and efforts to revitalize Flint’s economy, with plans to support education, health and wellness for children and their families for years to come.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, committing a total of $1 million to support children’s health needs through the Flint Child Health & Development Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and to an evaluation of how the community is recovering in the immediate and long term.
  • Ruth Mott Foundation, committing $1 million for the short- and long-term needs of Flint children and adults, in addition to investments already made in priorities identified by residents.
  • Skillman Foundation, committing $500,000 immediately, with the potential for an additional $1.5 million over the next three years, to support civic capacity, childhood health and nutrition, and childhood literacy.

“We believe partnership will pave the way to a brighter future for Flint’s children, and our collective efforts to support Flint must engage people in the community,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We encourage other foundations, businesses and all communities to join with us and make the necessary investments so all children in Flint have an equal opportunity to thrive.”

Related Content

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

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. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Education. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London.

The FlintNOW Foundation was created by Tom Gores, Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity and owner of the Detroit Pistons, to provide private sector support for immediate relief efforts during the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and for long-term programs focused on economic development, nutrition and health care for residents of the city.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The Hagerman Foundation was established by Phil and Jocelyn Hagerman in the summer of 2014 with one passion in mind: to brighten and improve the lives of future generations. They focus on family, community, and education as the framework for giving. The Hagerman Foundation looks forward to years of service supporting organizations that promote education, life skills, entrepreneurship, ministry, counseling, and the arts in Flint and Genesee County. Their goal is to build a legacy of hope for generations to come.

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 370 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million.

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

The Ruth Mott Foundation was established in Flint, Michigan, by Ruth Mott, a philanthropist and wife of automotive pioneer Charles Stewart Mott. The Foundation’s mission is to stimulate and support community vitality through its focus on four priority areas in north Flint: youth, safety, neighborhoods and economic opportunity. It grants about $6 million annually to help strengthen neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to thrive in Flint.

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy committed to improving meaningful graduation rates in the Detroit region, so kids are ready for college, career, and life. The Foundation has assets of nearly a half-billion dollars, with an annual grants budget of $17 million. The Foundation works to achieve its goal by investing in community leadership, neighborhoods, safety initiatives, high-quality schools, social innovation, and youth development.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. To learn more, follow WKKF on Twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn.