FLINT, Mich., Dec. 7, 2016 – The Ruth Mott Foundation has opened a new office in its focus area of north Flint.
Tryphena Clarke, the Foundation’s community engagement officer, will be based in the newly renovated space inside Christ Enrichment Center, 322 E. Hamilton Ave. This is the first time in the Foundation’s history that it has opened an additional office.
The expansion is part of the Ruth Mott Foundation’s pledge to work alongside north Flint residents to improve local conditions, said Ruth Mott Foundation President Handy Lindsey. It’s also the latest step in the Foundation’s five-year strategy to focus its grant making in north Flint.
“Fundamental to our approach in north Flint is a commitment to priorities and plans that have been voiced and driven by the community,” Lindsey said. “Opening this office is a continuation of the Ruth Mott Foundation’s promise to lift up the voices of north Flint and support residents’ efforts to strengthen their neighborhoods.”
Clarke, a lifelong north Flint resident, said she will continue to establish and strengthen relationships with north Flint people, businesses and organizations from her new location. As community engagement officer, Clarke’s role includes developing local resources and mobilizing community assets to help build sustainable programs that help north Flint residents thrive. She also serves as a community liaison for the Foundation.
“Everybody at the Ruth Mott Foundation is committed to community engagement, but not everybody can be on the ground all the time – and that’s where I come in,” she said. “I’ve been working to make sure residents are at the table and their voices are heard so that we know we’re meeting needs or exploring what we can do differently.”
The Ruth Mott Foundation defines north Flint as the area north of the Flushing Road/5th Avenue/Longway Boulevard corridor. More than 55 percent of the city’s population lives in north Flint, according to U.S. Census data.
Clarke, who has been with the Foundation since April, said one of her first actions from her new office will be to consult with young people in north Flint. Youth was identified by north Flint residents as their No. 1 priority during the Ruth Mott Foundation’s strategic planning process. Residents’ next three priorities, which were adopted by the Foundation, are safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods.
Most recently, Clarke was an integral part of the Ruth Mott Foundation’s pilot project to bring a water expo and door-to-door water distribution to the historic Civic Park Neighborhood. She organized the project committee and helped train the hired canvassers, who collected critical data in a household survey about service gaps amid the Flint water crisis.
The Ruth Mott Foundation is renting the space for its community engagement office from Christ Enrichment Center. The location was chosen because of the building’s history of service and prominent role in the neighborhood.
“It’s important that we support our community hubs,” Clarke said. “They’re underfunded and underutilized. If more organizations are able to collaborate and share these spaces it will benefit the community as a whole.”
The Ruth Mott Foundation was established by Ruth Mott, a philanthropist and wife of automotive pioneer Charles Stewart Mott. The Foundation’s mission is to stimulate and support Flint’s vitality through community engagement, focusing on four priority areas in north Flint: youth, safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods. It grants about $6 million annually to help strengthen neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to thrive.