LOS ANGELES – Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores announced today the first grants from a $10 million campaign to address the crisis in Flint, Michigan, including a contribution to the children's health fund co-founded by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, one of the first responders to recognize and draw attention to the crisis.
"We're moving quickly to support some of the urgent needs on the ground," Mr. Gores said. "We have a long view of what it will take to succeed here, but it's important to get moving. There's no time to wait when people are in need."
Mr. Gores, a Flint native, is leading a private sector initiative that has pledged at least $10 million to a broad range of short- and long-term initiatives to help address the crisis in Flint. He announced today that he has sent out the the first $1 million in contributions:
- $500,000 to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund (www.flintkids.org), a partnership between The United Way of Genesee County, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Children's Hospital and the Greater Flint Health Coalition.
- $250,000 to the United Way of Genesee County's Flint Water Fund (www.unitedwaygenesee.org), which was set up for the purchase of filters, bottled water, emergency support services and tprevention efforts.
- $250,000 to the American Red Cross, which is coordinating relief efforts in Flint and is operating the Volunteer Reception Center for people to help with the distribution of water, water filters, replacement cartridges and water testing kits.
"These groups are in the trenches supporting Flint residents during this crisis," Mr. Gores said. "We're proud to support their efforts."
The Flint Child Health & Development Fund was co-founded by Dr. Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who recognized increased lead exposure in Flint children and helped draw attention to the crisis.
"On behalf of all Flint's kids, we are very grateful to Mr. Gores and his team," Dr. Hanna-Attisha said. "Thank you for recognizing the urgent need to invest now in the future of our children. With your help, we are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow."
Mr. Gores emphasized that the ultimate goal of his campaign, which he has christened the FlintNOW Fund, is to support not only immediate relief efforts in the unfolding water crisis, but also long-term programs focused on economic development, nutrition and health care for residents of the city. He further emphasized that the effort was designed to augment – but not replace – the support that Flint residents will need from government and other agencies in order to rebound.
"Local, state and federal officials will need to do some heavy lifting to pull Flint through this crisis," Mr. Gores said. "But the issues facing Flint won't be solved solely through government intervention. The private sector needs to play a role here, and I am committed to helping drive that effort."
Platinum Equity Partner Mark Barnhill and Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem, tapped by Mr. Gores to lead the FlintNOW campaign, said community response has been overwhelming.
"We've been inundated with calls from business, civic, sports and entertainment leaders who want to pitch in and help," Mr. Barnhill said. "We'll be making a series of partnership and event announcements in the days ahead. In the meantime, we're working with people and agencies on the ground to identify and prioritize needs, and ensure the funds get directly to the people who need them most."
FlintNOW will be uniquely positioned to accelerate those efforts on all fronts by providing infrastructure, research, operational expertise and resources to identify and prioritize short-term, mid-range and long-term goals. Mr. Gores and his team's success as a business leader ensures that funding will be delivered where needs are greatest and most impactful. Donations received by the FlintNOW Fund will be distributed to programs that directly support its mission, with full transparency and without administrative overhead or fees.
Mr. Barnhill said the FlintNOW Fund would focus on the following core priorities:
- Provide immediate support for short-term relief efforts to ensure access to safe drinking water and infrastructure associated with volunteer programs, distribution of resources and other logistics.
- Provide funding for programs that help children, including healthy food and nutrition campaigns, as well as education and healthcare initiatives.
- Establish long-term support for economic development and revitalization initiatives in Flint and surrounding communities.