Thank you to the 500+ people who told us what matters as we shift our focus to north Flint. We listened!
The Ruth Mott Foundation will focus on these priorities that residents said mattered the most. The other two areas we asked about-community health and arts-ranked much lower. Going forward, any grants must address youth, safety, economic opportunity or neighborhoods.
The Ruth Mott Foundation, a private foundation committed to promoting the health and vitality of its home community of Flint and the surrounding area, has adopted a more targeted place-based approach to philanthropy. Under its new strategy, Ruth Mott Foundation will focus on north Flint. At the core of this strategic focus is a commitment to support community voiced and driven priorities and plans. Through this approach, the residents of north Flint will shape those solutions intended to strengthen their neighborhoods and help create and sustain opportunities to contribute and thrive.
We define north Flint as the city limits on the west, north and east, and Flushing Rd./5th Ave./Longway Blvd. to the south.
“Place-based philanthropy has demonstrated that concentrating on a defined area with significant challenges can result in increased impact on a community,” said Maryanne Mott, Ruth Mott Foundation’s Chairman. “We are focusing on north Flint because it’s the area in our community where we believe our efforts can make the biggest difference.”
Additionally, we will seek to fund resident-driven, innovative solutions that have the potential for an outsized impact on long-standing problems. We will also consider capacity-building in order to bolster our impact.
Please check back here for updates and details about our latest grantmaking activities!
Ruth Mott Foundation’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan: An Overview
The Ruth Mott Foundation is a private foundation committed to promoting the health and vitality of our home community of Flint and the surrounding area. We envision a healthy community that is economically strong and culturally vibrant, where all residents are empowered to access the resources needed to see and shape their future.
This document provides an overview of the Foundation’s 2016-2020 strategic plan, which we launched following research and reflection on the Flint community’s priorities and our own grantmaking experience and expertise.
Focus on North Flint
We believe in community vitality, which emerges from safe and vibrant neighborhoods that are home to healthy, financially secure families and children. To achieve this in our community, we are focusing our efforts on north Flint, the area where we believe our efforts can make the biggest difference. Fundamental to our more targeted approach to place-based philanthropy is a commitment to support community voiced and driven priorities and plans. It has been demonstrated that concentrating on a defined area with significant challenges while engaging the residents of that area in driving the solutions can result in increased impact. Our commitment is to hear the voices of the residents of north Flint and encourage and support their efforts to shape those solutions intended to strengthen their neighborhoods and to help them create and sustain opportunities to contribute and thrive.
We define north Flint as the city limits on the west, north and east, and Flushing Rd./5th Ave./Longway Blvd. to the south.
Our goal is to help residents of north Flint neighborhoods create and sustain opportunities to contribute and thrive. As we deploy the Foundation’s resources to achieve this impact, we are committed to the following approach:
The Ruth Mott Foundation will focus our grantmaking on key areas identified by the north Flint community. Starting in December 2015, we held a series of community forums that reached a total of more than 500 people, most of whom were north Flint residents, to help us understand what was most important to them. We started by asking about six initial priorities based on recurring themes from existing engagement processes and residents helped us refine and rank them.
The Ruth Mott Foundation will focus on the priorities that residents said mattered the most: youth, safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods. The other two areas we asked about—community health and arts—ranked much lower. Going forward, any grants must address youth, safety, economic opportunity, or neighborhoods—and specifically the themes within them that residents identified as most important.
|Youth development programs outside of school hours||Blight||Small business development/support||Neighborhood centers/ community schools|
|Job training/Employment||Community policing||Job training||Neighborhood engagement supports|
|Parenting education/ daycare||Lighting||Ex-offender programs||Housing|
We are committed to acting to improve outcomes related to these priorities. We see a need within these realms to work to close racial disparities, which is critically important to our community. We also highly value community engagement and successful applicants will demonstrate how they are doing projects “with” rather than “to” the north Flint community.
Grantmaking is integral to how Ruth Mott Foundation does its work. We will strive to maximize grantee capacity through general operating support and capacity building grants, multiyear grants that provide grantees the opportunity to plan ahead, and capital grants when such tools seem appropriate and show promise of improving impact. Critical to our success will be opportunities for collective impact through joining with other funders to leverage resources and bring greater community focus to an issue.
Theories of Change — Working Draft
When the Ruth Mott Foundation asked north Flint residents what issues mattered most to them, four priorities stood out: Youth, Safety, Economic Opportunity, and Neighborhoods. Residents identified areas to focus on within each priority, and these shaped what kinds of grants we will fund going forward. To be accountable, we need to track what changes related to these priorities happen in north Flint.
To figure out what to measure, we developed theories of change. A theory of change is a way of mapping long-term goals you expect to achieve if you carry out certain kinds of work. It includes indicators that help track whether the expected changes happen. Of course, forces beyond the Ruth Mott Foundation also shape what happens, and we will take that into account as well.
Each priority identified by residents has its own theory of change. We plan to revise these theories of change as we learn more about what works and what does not, and we will revise this document accordingly.
Background on Strategic Planning Process
The seeds for the Ruth Mott Foundation’s strategic planning process were planted in 2012 as a review of the Foundation’s beautification work prompted broader inquiries into our potential to more closely align with community priorities. In the intervening years, important changes in context – internally and externally – shaped the process of developing this plan. Internally, we saw staff leadership changes and the addition of new board members. Externally, the City of Flint underwent its first Master Plan in more than 50 years, which provided a new sense of collective direction.
1. What is Ruth Mott Foundation’s new strategy?
Our mission remains to:
Promote the health and vitality of our home community of Flint and the surrounding area.
However, our strategic focus is shifting to a more targeted place-based approach focused on the area of north Flint, because we believe it’s the area where our efforts can make the biggest difference. At the core of this strategic focus is the assumption that the people of north Flint possess the inherent capacity to solve their own problems. Accordingly, we are especially committed to engaging the residents of north Flint, and to insuring that our work reflects their priorities.
We will seek to fund innovative solutions that have the potential for an outsized impact on long-standing problems. We will also facilitate best practices and consider capacity building in order to bolster our impact.
2. Why did Ruth Mott Foundation change its strategy?
We embarked on a strategic planning process to review the evolving challenges of our community. We realize there is tremendous need in our community as well as limited resources, and we wanted to ensure we are allocating our resources to have the greatest impact on Flint.
Based on our research and reflection – including discussions with community leaders, foundation peers and grantees, and external initiatives such as the Master Plan for the City of Flint – we concluded that adopting a more targeted place-based approach to philanthropy is the best way for us to serve the Flint community.
It has been demonstrated that focusing on a defined area with significant needs while pursuing multiple opportunities for engaging residents and building partnerships can result in increased impact on a community. To that end, we are focusing our efforts on north Flint, the area where we believe our efforts can make the biggest difference.
While our mission will continue to be centered on promoting the health and vitality of Flint, we will be narrowing our grantmaking to serve the neighborhoods of north Flint in partnership with residents and community organizations in that area.
3. How does Ruth Mott Foundation define north Flint?
We define north Flint as the city limits on the west, north and east, and Flushing Rd./5th Ave./Longway Blvd. to the south. Our goal is to help residents of north Flint neighborhoods create and sustain opportunities to contribute and thrive.
4. When did new strategy and grant guidelines go into effect?
Our refined strategy went into effect beginning January 2016. All grants existing before then will continue unaffected through the end of their current grant period.
5. What will happen to grantees that no longer fit Ruth Mott’s strategy?
Unfortunately, some of the work we have supported in the past no longer fits our narrowed focus and will not be considered for grants beginning with our January 2016 grantmaking cycle. We will strive to work with these organizations to manage the impact of this transition. We have developed a general exit strategy that we will tailor for each organization.
In the future, should the work of any of these organizations change and become aligned with our place-based strategy, we would welcome the opportunity to consider supporting that work.
6. How many of your existing grantees will no longer receive funding?
There are a small number of current grantees whose work no longer fits our strategic focus on north Flint. We are working closely with these organizations to help manage the transition.
7. Will other aspects of your grantmaking change?
We will increase our focus on engaging the community of north Flint, including residents and community leaders; investing in community priorities; facilitating best practice sharing; and measuring our impact.
Additionally, we will seek to fund innovative solutions that have the potential for an outsized impact on long-standing problems. We will also consider capacity building in order to bolster our impact.
8. Will you continue to operate Applewood?
Yes, we will continue to operate Applewood. The estate is rooted in the Mott legacy of philanthropy and embodies the family’s commitment to the community. Accordingly, we will draw on Applewood as a welcoming place of beauty and contemplation to bring people together and as a resource for learning and the exchange of ideas.
9. How should potential grantees or partners learn more about Ruth Mott?
We are always looking for new partners and ideas that support our strategic focus on north Flint. We encourage potential partners to visit our website, www.RuthMottFoundation.org, to learn more about us.
10. Who do you collaborate with?
A critical element of our approach is to involve the residents of north Flint in shaping the solutions we support – by listening to them, connecting with them and integrating their ideas into our activities.
In addition to our grantees, we continuously look for opportunities to create partnerships and to lead or support collective efforts with area nonprofits, governmental agencies and other organizations that help strengthen north Flint. A critical element of our approach is to involve the residents of north Flint in shaping the solutions we support – by listening to them, connecting with them and integrating their ideas into our activities.
The Ruth Mott Foundation accepts grant proposals throughout the year. Final approval of grants rests with the foundation’s board of trustees, who generally meet three times a year.
Only proposals that are complete can be reviewed.
2017 Funding Cycle Calendar
Proposal Due Date Decision Time Frame
December 9 by 5:00 PM March 2017
March 31 by 5:00 PM June 2017
August 5 by 5:00PM October 2017
Our grant guidelines are changing to support the Ruth Mott Foundation’s new Strategic Plan.
The Ruth Mott Foundation is committed to being open & transparent about its work.
This Flint native was born to dance! Alfred “Bruce” Bradley is a performing artist and educator and the founder of Tapology Tap Festival for Youth and the Flintstone Hoofers. He also co-founded Creative Expressions Dance Studio, all in Flint.
Tapology is the study of tap dance, from its history to its impact on contemporary life, art, and entertainment. Think you can’t dance? Think again! Master tap dancer Bruce Bradley says everyone is welcome, and you might just find you have more music inside you than you thought!
Bruce Bradley, Tapology
Talented Hip Hop artist, Natasha Thomas-Jackson, has fused youth development with performance art to help young people address issues such as relationships, class, race, body image, violence, and health that affect their daily lives.
Her program, Raise It Up!, brings kids together at arts workshops to analyze these issues in creative ways and to express their feelings through performing. In doing so, the program helps elevate the participants’ self-esteem, nurtures youth leadership, and promotes creative and critical thinking. In short, young people are learning, through performance art, how they can make positive changes in themselves and in their community.
Natasha Thomas-Jackson, Raise It Up!
Yes, you could drive to and from classes, but why not bike or walk? The Gilkey Creek Trail provides safe passage for foot and bicycle travelers and a picturesque path between Mott College and Applewood for exercising.