Mongkolchon Akesin | iStock

FLINT, Michigan (July 20, 2023) – The Ruth Mott Foundation Board of Trustees has awarded $1.2 million to Michigan State University for Rx Kids, an initiative that will provide cash payments to Flint mothers from pregnancy through year one of the child’s life.

The donation comes as the program, led by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, is still working toward its $55-million fundraising goal to be able to fund this project for five birth years for mothers and babies starting in 2024.

Rx Kids is a novel intervention that aims to disrupt child poverty and the related health problems by providing all expectant mothers in Flint with up to $7,500: A one-time payment of $1,500 during pregnancy followed by $500 per month until the child turns 1.

The Ruth Mott Foundation’s award of $1.2 million over three years is the largest single grant commitment in the history of the Foundation, which has focused its grantmaking on the northern half of Flint since 2016.

“We’re incredibly proud to support this innovative citywide approach to investing in Flint children and families, especially in the wake of the water crisis and a global pandemic,” said Raquel Thueme, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation. “North Flint residents told us to focus on Youth and Economic Opportunity and Rx Kids fits squarely within those two priority areas.”

The first community-wide program of its kind in the nation, Rx Kids expects to enroll approximately 1,200 mothers per year, based on Flint’s population size. All pregnant women who live in Flint would be eligible regardless of income and there are no restrictions on how families can spend the funds.

Focused on the health and development period of pregnancy and infancy, the program intends to improve the economic stability of families while proactively protecting the health and promoting the development of children and their aspirations.

“Thank you to the Ruth Mott Foundation for their historic investment in Flint families,” said Hanna-Attisha. “We believe that society should come alongside families, especially during the critical time of pregnancy and infancy. Rx Kids is a citywide prescription of hope and love, and I am beyond excited to write that first script.”

According to U.S. Census data, approximately one in every two children in Flint grows up in poverty – a rate that is more than three times worse than the state and national childhood poverty rates. The childhood poverty rate in some north Flint neighborhoods is as high as 80%, as shown in Census data displayed on the Foundation’s North Flint Community Dashboard. Children living in areas of concentrated poverty are more likely to have poorer health and more likely to experience developmental and academic difficulties.

According to Rx Kids, cash allowances are a common practice in some other countries and there are examples of them in other cities in the United States—but none that are open to any and all mothers who reside there, as is the case with Rx Kids.

Rx Kids is partnering with University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, directed by Professor H. Luke Shaefer, and the Greater Flint Health Coalition. Schaefer is regarded as one of the nation’s leading scholars of child poverty interventions and research.

Other recent funders include the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which awarded a $15-million challenge grant; the Community Foundation of Greater Flint; Hurley Foundation; and Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The cash allowances will be administered by GiveDirectly, which has extensive experience managing cash transfers across the globe.

For more information about Rx Kids, visit