By Jan Worth-Nelson
Flint residents have until Aug. 11 to vote on how the city’s largest and most dominant foundation should spend $1 million.
Last November the C.S. Mott Foundation asked Flint residents to suggest how to spend $1 million on Flint neighborhoods. There was no shortage of response. The foundation heard from more than 440 people, who offered 625 ideas.
Foundation officials shaped the suggestions into 70 projects in four categories: beautification/neighborhood cleanup; home improvements; demolition; and street light and sidewalk repair.
Now the Foundation has opened up an online ballot, at focusonflint.org/vote.
On the website, the four initial categories are eased out into nine, including a category for “special neighborhood projects.”
Voters can select up to 10 projects, for a total of $250,000 each, mixing and matching proposed amounts until the total hits $1 million.
Projects on the list include providing assistance for LED street lighting, home maintenance for seniors, demolishing structures near open Flint Community Schools buildings, offering matching funds for sidewalk repair, rehabbing vacant houses and developing new affordable housing.
The special projects category includes increased support for accessing grants through the Neighborhood Engagement Hub; demolishing the Brown Funeral Home on Davison Road; putting a new roof on the Brennan Senior Center; and supporting the Porch Project for porch repairs and front yard enhancements.
“When we launched the Focus on Flint initiative last year, we met with residents and listened to their concerns and desires for the community,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation in a press release announcing the vote. “Strengthening neighborhoods emerged as their top priority, and we’re eager to help them do it,” he said.
Foundation staff said they reviewed all the ideas submitted and, from them, created a list of 70 potential projects to vote on. Ideas that suggested similar projects were combined, and those that were not related to neighborhood projects or could not be funded by the Foundation were removed.”
“We hoped to have more in-person meetings this year for the voting, but the pandemic changed those plans,” White said. “Although we have to ask people to vote online, we’re excited to hear from the community again so we can get money into the neighborhoods to address residents’ priorities.”
Here is how the foundation lays out the procedure for voting:
- Go to focusonflint.org/vote.
- Select up to 10 projects you’d like to see happen.
- You’ll be able to vote to give up to $250,000 per project. Beginning with the minimum amount required to complete each project, you can add funds in increments of $5,000.
- Once you hit $1 million, you can no longer vote for more projects.
- For example, you may vote for four projects to get $250,000 each, 10 projects to get $100,000 each or another combination to reach $1 million.
- Each resident may vote only once.
The press release states, “The Mott Foundation will look at the top vote-getters and the average dollar amounts residents said each should receive. This will help to determine how many grants will be awarded and the size of each one. The Mott Foundation will then award grants — $1 million in total — to local nonprofit organizations to tackle the projects.”
According to its 2019 annual report, the Mott Foundation has more than $3 billion in assets,. The foundation supports many national and international projects and initiatives, including, in 2018, $17 million to 104 “Civil Society” grants; $21 million to 70 education projects; $16 million to 80 environmental program grant. In 2018, the Foundation also devoted $73 million to 102 Flint needs and projects.
More information about the neighborhood project and the ballot are available at focusonflint.org/vote.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.