Flint, Michigan

Protecting Children Where Government Didn’t

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 2016

The troubled city of Flint, Michigan, shifted in 2014 to a new public-water source that ended up exposing between 6,000 and 12,000 children to unhealthy levels of lead. After this was discovered, dysfunctional governments proved unable to move quickly to protect the youngsters from harm. Ten charitable organizations rapidly stepped into this void—pledging a combined $125 million for water testing, health care, and various kinds of short- and medium-term relief for households.

“There are needs out there that just can’t wait for the state to appropriate the money and wait for the bureaucratic channeling of funds,” stated Eric Lupher of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “If you live in the city of Flint you don’t want to wait for the money to show up. You want to take your kids to the doctor now.”

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is based in Flint, provided $50 million to the recovery effort for immediate use in the first year. Other philanthropies among those pitching in included the FlintNOW, Kellogg, Kresge, and Skillman foundations.

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