FLINT, Michigan, April 10, 2017 – The Ruth Mott Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 million in grants focused on improving the quality of life for north Flint residents in its first grantmaking cycle of 2017.

Altogether, the 18 grants address the issues that north Flint residents identified as the Foundation’s priorities: youth, public safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods. Two of the grants are part of the Foundation’s $1-million commitment to address the Flint water crisis, and support increased access to affordable, fresh foods that help mitigate the effects of lead exposure.

“From providing strong mentors for young people to making our parks safe and attractive for families, we’re inspired by and proud to support each one of these important efforts,” said Handy Lindsey, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation. “We believe that supporting our youth, public safety, economic opportunities and our neighborhoods will make north Flint overall a stronger, more stable community for everyone who lives here.”

Among the programs that received support are:

FWC Berston Boxing Program: The iconic north Flint youth boxing program that helped give two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields her start will train 200 young people this year. Nearly all of the youth reside in north Flint and many overcome extraordinary challenges through the program, which teaches skills that can be applied to academic success and leadership. FWC Berston Boxing will be the host organization for the Michigan Junior Olympics in May at the International Academy of Flint.

North Flint Safety and Neighborhoods Initiative: Keep Genesee County Beautiful, now under the umbrella of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission, will lead clean-ups and safety initiatives in 21 north Flint parks. Adopt-a-Park groups will learn Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles and help report on streetlight outages, blight and problems with crime.

Institute of R.H.Y.M.E.S.: The new Building Men of Excellence afterschool program will provide academic support, cultural activities, enrichment programs and mentoring to middle- and high-school age boys of color in north Flint. Among its many activities during the grant period, the program will coach youth, help with homework and provide transportation for tours of historically black colleges and universities.

While the Institute of R.H.Y.M.E.S. (Reaching and Helping Young Minorities Excel and Succeed) is a new entity, its leader, John Rhymes, has an established reputation as a director of uplifting youth programs in north Flint. For the past 30 years, Rhymes has led the Gamma Delta Kudos and the Kappa Leadership League, which have fostered the positive development of hundreds of young men in Flint.

“Building Men of Excellence sets expectations and goals for youth and helps guide them as they define who they are and explore their capabilities,” Rhymes said. “We are working to change the narrative for young men of color in north Flint.”

In the year since the Ruth Mott Foundation announced the first grants under its north Flint strategy, it has awarded more than 40 grants totaling over $5 million. The Ruth Mott Foundation defines north Flint as the area north of the Flushing Road/5th Avenue/Longway Boulevard corridor and bound by the city limits on the west, north and east sides.

In all, 18 grants were approved in March 2017 by the Ruth Mott Foundation Board of Trustees:

Project/Program Name Grantee Amount
North Flint Safety & Neighborhoods Initiative Genesee County Parks and Recreation $336,127

Social Enterprise Development


St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center




Double Up Healthy Food Incentives*


Fair Food Network




General Operating Support


Flint Public Library




Flint & Genesee Literacy Network


Mott Community College




Organizational Capacity Building






Northside Impact Strategic Plan


Specialized Employment Services




North Flint Grocery Initiative*


Genesee Chamber Foundation




Safe Places 2017


YMCA of Greater Flint




North Flint Neighborhood Action Council


Metro Community Development




Flint LISC – General Operating Support


Local Initiatives Support Corporation




Summer Youth Initiative 2017


Genesee Chamber Foundation




General Operating Support


Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint




FWC Berston Boxing Program 2017


United Way of Genesee County




Bangtown Productions – Studio On the Go


Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint




Unified Sisters: Artistic Expressions 2017


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint




Building Men of Excellence


Institute of R.H.Y.M.E.S.




Helping Young People with Employment


Faith Foundation Resources



TOTAL $1,880,795

*Part of the Ruth Mott Foundation’s Flint water commitment

You can find more information on how the Ruth Mott Foundation is supporting positive outcomes for youth, safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods in north Flint by clicking here.