A better tomorrow begins with investing in children and families today.
That belief has been the driving force behind the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s response to the Flint water crisis. The public charity and grantmaking organization has allocated millions of dollars in donor funds to meet the most critical needs of Flint’s most precious resource, its children.
“Flint children are strong. Flint children are resilient; but Flint children and their families still need help,” said Isaiah M. Oliver, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “With each passing month, residents continue to struggle with the anxieties caused by or exacerbated by the crisis. The ongoing nature of this public health crisis, and its man-made origin, layer on top of years of progressive economic depression. Parents are experiencing worry and stress about their children’s long-term physical and mental health, behavior and learning capacity.”
Thousands of Flint children were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, which can have serious effects including developmental problems, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. In response, the Community Foundation has awarded $34 million in grants to address the future of Flints kids. Chief among them is the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, which has received the largest share—$19 million.
“Grants through the Flint Child Health and Development Fund are dedicated to serving Flint’s most vulnerable residents— children,” Oliver said. “We feel fortunate to share the gifts of donors from across the country with local nonprofit organizations that are providing needed services to Flint residents in their homes and in Avenir Book
To date, the Flint Child Health and Development Fund has received more than $18 million in gifts and has awarded nearly $5.6 million in grants
“We are fostering hope through our Flint Child Health and Development Fund along with our other major initiatives—literacy, access to healthy food, and investing in Flint neighborhoods,” Oliver said. “In a disaster situation like the Flint water crisis, community foundations often take the lead in raising long term dollars for recovery from donors who care.”
And these efforts have caught the attention of well-known citizens across the nation. In 2017, pop artist Bruno Mars donated $1 million to the Community Foundation, which, in turn, created the Bruno Mars Water Crisis Fund.
“We know Bruno Mars’ $1-million gift will be transformative to the children and families of Flint,” Oliver said. “He understands the issues faced by Flint citizens, and we are touched by his concern and generosity”
The Bruno Mars fund has helped finance several key initiatives aimed at children including the creation of six new playgrounds for the city of Flint as well as operations support for MSUHurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative.
Although massive efforts are under way to help Flint heal on many fronts, Oliver said formidable hurdles remain.
“Recent reports declare the drinking water in Flint is now in compliance with federal regulations on lead content,” he said. “But Flint residents remain afraid and uncertain. Feelings of betrayal and mistrust persist, and it will take years to completely remove all the lead from Flint homes and city plumbing systems.”
And that’s why Community Foundation’s continued efforts are so critical.