Tom Gores announced along with Consumers Energy that each will be donating $1 million to help create a scholarship program that will provide all Flint High School graduates with a tuition-free path to college. The Flint Promise scholarship program plans to launch for the 2018-19 school year.
Gores has been active in his hometown of Flint since early 2016 as part of the community’s ongoing water crisis. The water crisis started in 2014 and numerous residents still remain without access to clean water. Plans and funding are finally in place to address the issue, but infrastructure improvements will likely need until at least 2020 before the work is done.
Through his FlintNOW initiative, Gores pledged $10 million “to support a broad range of programs focused on relief and revitalization of his hometown of Flint.” He also pledged to partner with local businesses connections, with this donation serving as the latest. Gores said:
“I am grateful to the Consumers Energy Foundation for joining us in this effort to provide every kid in Flint with the promise of a chance to go to college,” said Mr. Gores. “I grew up in Flint, went to school here and appreciate the power of education to transform people’s lives and revitalize a community. Every student who works hard deserves a chance to earn a college degree. We want to give those kids and their families a reason to dream and provide them the resources to make those dreams come true.”
Details of the scholarship are still being worked out, including which high schools will be eligible, what post-secondary institutions will participate, and support services.
It’s also unclear from the press release what the sustainability of the fund includes, particularly if it’s an endowment or one that will need to renew funding. An endowed fund would maintain the principal into perpetuity and have scholarships funded through proceeds from the fund’s investment while the alternative would spend directly from the fund until it’s gone, which would require ongoing funding to maintain it. My educated guess is that it’s likely the latter.
FlintNOW’s past support for the community includes a $25 million economic development partnership with Huntington Bank, healthy food initiative, involvement with Toys for Tots, and other donations to local charities. Gores has been one of the largest individual donors to support recovery from the crisis.
Consumers Energy has been also active in helping address the water crisis with past donations and volunteerism from the company. They have donated $50,000 in the past and participated in water distribution.
Former Piston Rasheed Wallace has also continued to be active in keeping Flint in the forefront with water deliveries this summer. His column in The Players Tribune from last October remains a classic in case you missed it.
Access to clean drinking water is such a basic human need and the crisis has been a travesty. If you’d like to support efforts to ensure clean water for Flint residents, the United Way of Genessee County has set up a fund to provide residents with filters, bottled water, emergency support, and prevention efforts. Learn more on their website here. DBBers aware of other good services going on in the community, feel free to toss a recommendation in the comments.
Thanks to Tom Gores, Consumers Energy, Sheed, and all of the other folks out there doing good works.