FLINT, Michigan, April 13, 2016 – The Ruth Mott Foundation today announced it is awarding $1.3 million in grants under its new strategy to strengthen north Flint neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to contribute and thrive.

The new grants signify an exciting era for the foundation, which in November launched its five-year strategic plan to concentrate grant-making resources in north Flint and give voice to an often underrepresented group of residents.

The $1,292,450 announced Wednesday will go toward 10 programs that represent four priority areas chosen during an intensive community engagement process initiated in 2015 as part of the foundation’s commitment to let north Flint residents drive its grant-making strategy. The Ruth Mott Foundation believes that focusing on a defined area with significant challenges – and engaging the residents in that area to help determine solutions – will result in a greater positive impact.

“Too often, residents of Flint go unheard and it’s critical for us to lift up their voices and make them a part of the process,” said Handy Lindsey, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation. “We went to the residents first with our new strategy, and now we’re able to deploy our resources from the ground up. Throughout this entire process, we’re gathering input from people in north Flint about what they need to improve their lives and their neighborhoods.”

The foundation has defined north Flint as the city limits on the west, north and east sides, and Flushing Road/5th Avenue/Robert T. Longway Boulevard to the south.

After a comprehensive series of eight community forums with more than 500 participants, the Ruth Mott Foundation used residents’ feedback to narrow its focus on priority areas that would help improve quality of life in north Flint. The four main priority areas are youth, safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods, and specific themes within those areas include youth programs out of school hours, blight, job training and neighborhood centers.

Included in the newly approved grants are $368,000 awarded to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity for the Urban Renaissance Center’s Civic Park Revitalization Initiative, and $280,000 awarded to the United Way of Genesee County for Friends of Berston to operate Berston Field House.

The United Way/Friends of Berston grant will help Berston Field House continue as a neighborhood hub and offer even more youth programs and activities. The goal is to restore and build upon Berston’s rich history and storied legacy in north Flint.

“The United Way of Genesee County couldn’t be more excited to continue to grow its partnerships with Berston Field House and the Ruth Mott Foundation,” said Jamie Gaskin, CEO of the United Way of Genesee County. “These funds are critical to ensuring youth and adults in the north Flint community have access to important recreational and enrichment opportunities.”

The Habitat for Humanity grant will help the Urban Renaissance Center boost its employment programs that serve ex-offenders and other chronically unemployed people in the Civic Park neighborhood in north Flint. An exciting plan to repurpose a vacant home as a neighborhood museum of Civic Park history is also proposed as part of the grant program.

“Our goal is to help build the capacity of Urban Renaissance Center so they can be well positioned to help residents find employment and build hope and pride in the Civic Park neighborhood,” said Margaret Kato, executive director of Habitat for Humanity.

In all, 10 grants were approved by the Ruth Mott Foundation Board of Trustees in April.

Project/Program Name Grantee Amount
URC Civic Park Revitalization Initiative Genesee County Habitat for Humanity $368,000
Friends of Berston United Way of Genesee County $280,000
YMCA Youth Programs 2016 YMCA of Greater Flint $150,000
Mr. Gaines Gardening Program PLUS Catholic Charities of Shiawassee & Genesee Counties $100,000
Social Enterprise Expansion St. Luke NEW Life Center $96,000
Raise it UP! Youth Arts and Awareness United Way of Genesee County $92,250
Creating Economic Opportunity in North Flint Genesee Chamber Foundation $88,000
North Flint Former Prisoner Project Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency $50,000
North Flint Unemployment Insurance Project Regents of the University of Michigan $40,000
Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project Buckham Fine Arts Project $28,200

The grants are on top of $1 million the Board of Trustees has pledged in response to the Flint water crisis.

Moving forward, the foundation is committed to continuing to listen to north Flint residents and will modify its strategic plan as the community’s priorities evolve.

“As Flint has changed, the Ruth Mott Foundation must also shift to align with the community,” Lindsey said. “With this new sense of collective direction, we will invest in what matters to and makes a difference for north Flint residents.”