Flint, Michigan

Linking National and Local Funders to Benefit Communities

Through long-term partnerships with community foundations, large funders can leverage their work at the local level.

Taking the long view has been a hallmark of the Mott Foundation’s support for community foundations, beginning with its hometown community foundation in Flint, Michigan. This ongoing relationship between a national funder and its local community foundation offers insight for the broader field of community philanthropy, especially as it relates to the value gained by engaging in a vibrant partnership and providing long-term support. Mott’s involvement with community foundations began with a $1,000 administrative support grant to the Flint Public Trust in 1950. Mott also helped launch the Flint Area Health Foundation in 1978.

Key Lessons

undefinedTake the Long View

undefinedLeverage Resources and Partnerships

Empowering the people in communities to be able to realize their own dreams is a very important thing.

William S. WhiteChairman, President & CEO, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

A decade after the health foundation’s creation, it was apparent that Flint actually had two small community foundations — the trust and the health foundation. “If combined, the new institution could be better positioned for growth and have greater impact on the community through its grantmaking,” said William S. White, chairman, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Consequently, White brought together community leaders and other residents to talk about merging the two organizations; they integrated to become the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) in 1988. “Empowering the people in communities to be able to realize their own dreams is a very important thing,” White said.

By the Numbers

The Mott Foundation has granted the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) more than $48 million since its creation in 1988. Of this total, $36.2 million was earmarked for endowment building, and the remainder has been for general support and special projects, including funding youth activities. Ongoing support has helped the CFGF, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013, to thrive as a vital entity in Mott’s home region of Genesee County, Michigan. In 2013, the CFGF made more than 500 grants totaling $4.2 million and ended the year with assets totaling $163 million.

By The Numbers

Asset Growth of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint 1988-2013

  • Year-End CFGF Endowment Size
  • Cumulative Endowment Grants from Mott to CFGF *
  • *Includes grants since 1950 to the Flint Public Trust, Flint Area Health Foundation, Foundation for the Flint Cultural Center, and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint; as well as technical assistance to CFGF as part of Mott foundation administered programs.

All of these good people coming together, focusing on just trying to make things better - that’s what keeps me engaged.

Lawrence E. MoonCommunity Foundation of Greater Flint (trustee 1995-2003 and 2005-present, chair 2006-2009)

Even though the Mott Foundation has deep roots in the Flint area, its local grantmaking is greatly enhanced through collaboration with the CFGF. Below are some of the many CFGF/Mott joint projects – either through leveraging resources and expertise, making grants, or in direct partnership.

  • The Neighborhoods Small Grants Program was a Mott initiative that provided seed money to start many ongoing programs nationally, including one at the CFGF. Additionally, in 1993, Mott provided a grant to create a Neighborhoods Small Grants Program Endowment Fund at the CFGF, which has enabled the community foundation to continue partnering with dozens of grassroots groups throughout Flint.
  • Capacity-building initiatives for Flint-area nonprofits through grants like those to the BEST Project (Building Excellence, Sustainability, Trust), which provides resources for nonprofit management and organizational development for Genesee County organizations.
  • Youth programs, such as those operated by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Youth Initiative, and Resource Genesee’s ReMix program, were both incubated at the CFGF. The Summer Youth Initiative is a program that helps more than 500 qualified teens find employment each year, and ReMix uses social networking and technology-based information systems to help youth navigate through barriers to education, employment, housing, healthcare, and other areas.
  • The Flint Master Planning project was the city’s first planning effort since the 1960s. Beginning in 2012, Mott and the CFGF collaborated with two other local funders, the Ruth Mott Foundation and the United Way of Genesee County, to undertake this two-year project that involved more than 5,000 residents. They joined together to “Imagine Flint” for the future. The resulting plan was unanimously approved by the Flint Planning Commission and Flint City Council.
  • Endowment support for Flint’s Cultural Center organizations, such as the Flint Institute of Arts, the Flint Institute of Music and the Flint Cultural Center Corporation, to ensure their long-term sustainability. Mott often has made grants to the CFGF that are earmarked for Cultural Center organizations as a way to draw on the community foundation’s experience and established systems for managing endowment funds which, in turn, allows the Cultural Center organizations to focus on what they do best: provide arts and cultural programming to local residents.

“All of these good people coming together, focusing on just trying to make things better – that’s what keeps me engaged,” said Lawrence E. Moon, Community Foundation of Greater Flint (trustee 1995-2003 and 2005-present, chair 2006-2009).