FLINT, Michigan—At the close of 2019, the Ruth Mott Foundation awarded 16 north Flint programs, and The Flint Public Library, a plethora of grants totaling more than $2.1 million offering them the chance to better ensure their vision for 2020 becomes a reality.
Selected grantees have programs or projects that are centered on north Flint residents. They include everything from neighborhood blight elimination to family engagement and multi-service neighborhood hubs. Flintside spoke with some of them about their vision for the upcoming year.
Shop Floor Theatre Company counts the Ruth Mott Foundation as the primary funder for its Creative Learning Program.
For nearly 10 years the theater company has been helping north Flint youth by introducing concepts of retention and persistence that will encourage strong participation and scholastic competence using fun, multifaceted arts projects designed to help them navigate barriers to learning and goal attainment.
“The Ruth Mott Foundation Grant will help us to expand our programming footprint in north Flint. In addition, it will help build educational bridges, provide expressive opportunities and extend employment prospects to flint area residents,” says Shop Floor Theatre Executive Director Kendrick Jones.
In 2019 alone, the theater company conducted 84 individual youth development Creative Learning sessions at four program sites, for a combined total of over 1,100 youth touches, with an average of 18 participants per session.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint continues to transform the lives of the youth throughout Flint and Genesee County, making after school clubs a priority. As a leading organization in youth development, the Boys & Girls Clubs serve young people, ages 7 to 17, providing hope and opportunity to the next generation of community and global leaders.
“This support ensures that the organization is able to continue to offer a world-class facility with trained youth development staff to the youth served,” explains Emily Leonard, director of grants and public relations for Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint. “These are the most important gifts that can be given to the organization because it allows flexibility in strategic planning as the Boys & Girls Clubs continue to grow and achieve the vision for the future of children in Flint, Genesee County, and beyond.”
Grant funding from the Ruth Mott Foundation funds general operating support for the organization, where approximately 48% of their membership resides in North Flint ZIP codes. In 2018, the organization served 1,763 registered club members, increasing that figure in 2019 to serve 2,045 registered youth. With the Peak Extension Site expanding operations to provide after school programming in January 2020, the Boys & Girls Clubs seek to serve more youth, more often.
The Playing and Learning Together program is an eight-week program for families living in north Flint in the 48504, 48505, and 48506 ZIP codes. The program is free and offers parents and caregivers resources to connect, play, and learn with their children outside, at home, or at school. It gives them an opportunity to connect with each other in a fun and interactive learning environment fostering parent and child connections, which leads to improved development for young children and helps to prepare them for lifelong success.
“Our vision for the program is to equip families with the tools to help them help their children be ready for school and ready to learn. The grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation provides us with the funds necessary to reach this goal, equipping families with the knowledge and skills to help children reach their full potential," says Andrea Miller, museum educator for Flint's Children’s Museum.
During the eight-week program, families come into the museum and enjoy a meal together. For four of the eight weeks, following the meal, the children play with museum staff, while parents attend a workshop to learn about various aspects of child development, including social-emotional development, supporting language and literacy, and getting ready for kindergarten. For the remaining four weeks, parents and children play together on the museum floor, giving parents an opportunity to practice what they learned in the workshop the previous week.
The Flint Institute of Arts’ Success Through ART (START) program provides art experiences to 3- to 5-year-old children in their classrooms and at the museum. During the program, children look at and discuss artwork, listen to children’s literature and explore the creative potential of art materials. Through these activities, children build skills to meet communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving and social-emotional developmental milestones.
“As we move into 2020, our vision for the program is to make a bigger impact on our early childhood community by providing regular opportunities for family engagement. The grant we received from the Ruth Mott Foundation will allow us to expand START to offer art experiences for families with preschool-age children at sites in north Flint. By offering programs at locations where parents/caregivers are already familiar and comfortable, we will be better able to engage and empower them with skills and strategies to enrich the learning opportunities they provide at home. During family programs, parents/caregivers will learn skills to support their child’s learning and development through shared art experiences. Each family will receive art materials to take home so they can continue learning together,” says Monique M. Desormeau, curator of education at Flint Institute of Arts.