Ten foundations donate $125M for Flint recovery efforts
Flint is receiving $125 million in private foundation support to help the city get back on its feet two years after water contamination issues surfaced.
Led by the Flint-based Charles W. Mott Foundation, the collective of 10 community organizations is committing the private donations to six areas of concern. In addition to improving the city’s water quality, they would go to bolstering family health programs, early education, economic development efforts, local engagement in the city’s problems and Flint’s non-profit agencies.
“This is a game changer,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Hurley Medical Center researcher who last year helped identify high lead levels in the blood samples of Flint children. “The resources, financial and institutional, and the long-term commitment, announced today have the potential to alter the trajectory for the children of Flint. We want a Flint that not only recovers from the water crisis, but prospers and becomes a public health model.
“This generosity, and more that we hope will come, can help us achieve this goal. Adding this commitment to the intrinsic hope, resilience and strength of Flint residents is a masterstroke.”
The Mott Foundation will commit up to $100 million over the next five years dedicated to the six areas of concern in Flint. The FlintNOW Foundation has pledged $10 million to a wide range of efforts.
“We felt that the community needed a sense of hope,” Mott Foundation President Ridgway White said Tuesday. “They needed reasons to stay in Flint and know that their families could have a health future here.”
It was unclear how the philanthropic money would work with state or federal money coming into Flint to deal with the crisis.
“First and foremost, the plan here is designed to complement and fill in any gaps that might be present in the governor’s budget,” White said. “We are hopeful that the state government follows through with their initial plan and the dollars the governor has proposed. ...
“We are hopeful the federal government does more, but I don’t know what will happen. In light of the fact we need to make sure there are these wrap-around services the community can look to so they know they are not alone.”
During the 18-month period starting in April 2014, the city drew its drinking water from the Flint River. The move was made to save money while waiting for completion of a new regional water provider — the Karegnondi Water Authority.
But during that stretch, the river water was not treated with corrosion controlling chemicals to prevent lead contamination. It is widely believed the lack of controls contributed to high lead levels in the water and may have played a role in a rise in cases of Legionnaires’ diseases that left 12 dead.
After being switched back to water provided by the Detroit-based Great Lakes Water Authority in October, Flint residents continue to utilize bottled water and filters to get through their daily home routines.
“This hits close to home for us, both physically and emotionally because many of our staff and colleagues have connections to Flint,” said George Jacobsen, a program officer who co-chaired the Kresge Foundation’s Flint task force. Kresge has committed $2.45 million in support of non-profit groups.
“It also aligns very well with Kresge’s commitment to expand opportunities for low-income communities in cities,” he added.
Other foundations included in the effort announced Wednesday include:
■W.K. Kellogg Foundation will contribute $5 million in the next 12 months to support children’s health and education.
■The Kresge Foundation is pledging as much as $2.5 million to support non-profit groups.
■New York-based Carnegie Corporation is giving $1 million to childhood education.
■The Ford Foundation has committed $1 million to Flint’s health needs.
■The Hagerman Foundation will support efforts in the non-profit sector with $1 million in the first year.
■The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is pledging $1 million toward children’s health efforts through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s Child Health and Development Fund.
■The Ruth Mott Foundation will commit $1 million for the short and long-term needs of Flint residents, young and old.
■The Skillman Foundation will immediately provide $500,000, and possibly as much as $1.5 million in the next three years, for childhood health, nutrition and literacy.