C.S. Mott Foundation
By Tobiasz Warminski
Graduate Student, Grand Valley State University
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is a private philanthropy located in Flint, Michigan. It makes grants in the United States and internationally in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and South Africa. It remains one of the largest foundations in the country with assets valuing over $2 billion in 2003, and total giving of almost $100 million (Foundation Center).
The Foundation was established by Charles Stewart Mott in 1926 out of his deep concern about the welfare of his local community. He strongly believed in the partnership of humanity and knew that one foundation could not solve all the local community’s problems. Everyone is responsible for a city’s well-being. His words “it seems to me that every person, always is in a kind of informal partnership with his community,” and his vision of a world in which everyone is in partnership with the rest of the human race, are the basis upon which the Foundation is built (Mott Foundation) (1).
The purpose of the Foundation is to promote a just, equitable and sustainable society throughout making grants, communicating thoughtfully and providing other activities that enhance community in its many forms. The Foundation runs four main programs, dealing with Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathway out of Poverty. Their aim is to ensure the Foundation fulfills its mission of promoting sustainable society (Civicus) (2).
Charles Stewart Mott earned his fortune by successfully operating a company that manufactured automotive parts and selling it to General Motors in the early 20th century in exchange for over 1 million shares of GM stock (Fugate 1997). This made it possible for him to establish the C.S. Mott Foundation in 1926 with the initial gift of 2000 shares of GM stock, valued at $160 a share at that time (Young and Quinn 1963).
The Foundation began with just a medical and dental clinic for children. After that, Mott helped establish the YMCA and the Boy Scouts in Flint, along with the Whaley Children’s Center (Clotfelter and Ehrlich 1999). However, it was not until 1935 that the organization found the pattern for international success, which has since made it become known in many parts of the world (Civicus) (2).
The Mott Foundation is among the largest American private foundations based on the value of its assets. It’s also a significant grantmaker, giving money to support many local and international initiatives. By putting effort on building organized communities, the Foundation has an important impact on the society. There is no doubt that its contribution to the individuals’ well-being, not only in the local area, but also nationwide and overseas, is hard to overestimate.
In 2003, the Foundation’s grantmaking activities resulted in almost $100 million in grants to nonprofits from Michigan, United States, South Africa, Central/Eastern Europe and Russia. Most of the grants (39.1%) were made under the Pathways out of Poverty program. The balance was spread across Civil Society (24.5%), Flint Area (18.3%), Environment (14.5%) and the others—3.6% (Mott Foundation) (4).
In 2003, grantmaking through the Mott Foundation’s Pathways Out of Poverty program reflected close attention to the country’s poor during a slowing economy in the U.S. It also illustrated a strong commitment to improve this situation, even in times of reduced grant budgets. Under the Civil Society program, grantmaking sought to strengthen the nonprofit sector, promote citizen rights and responsibilities, and improve race and ethnic relations. Pooling funds with other foundations for significant projects was a frequent strategy. The grants awarded through the Flint Area program supported a number of institutions, such as arts and cultural centers or educational facilities. They were also made to improve the Flints area’s economic vitality and to provide increased opportunities for its low-income residents. Under the Environment program, the Foundation placed priority on support for organizational capacity building and funding for NGO’s participation in important domestic and international policy deliberations. The particular attention was paid to NGOs whose work was seen as central to the Foundation’s grantmaking objectives and strategies (Mott Foundation) (2).
Ties to the Philanthropic Sector
As a large, private, independent foundation, the Mott Foundation is significantly related to the nonprofit sector in the local area, nationwide and internationally. It supports a wide variety of efforts to broaden and strengthen philanthropy. The Foundation makes grants through its four main programs.
The Civil Society program supports efforts to assist in democratic institution building, strengthen communities, promote equitable access to resources, and ensure respect of rights and diversity. The program consists of four grantmaking areas: Central/Eastern Europe and Russia, South Africa, United States and Special Initiatives—International.
The Flint Area program helps local institutions respond to economic and social needs in the city of Flint. The program addresses three grantmaking areas including Arts, Culture and Education, Community Revitalization and Economic Development and Special Initiatives, which include race relations, children and families and capacity building for nonprofit organizations.
The Pathways Out of Poverty program seeks to improve life for children, youths, and families in low-income communities. The program works to empower people to escape poverty. In making this escape a reality, the focus is on community organizing, education and economic opportunity. A fourth area deals with special initiatives to support projects that are cross-cutting in nature and to explore special opportunities.
The Environment program promotes a healthy global environment. The program seeks to strengthen the partnerships between individuals and communities in order to protect and conserve the environment. The aim of the two funding priorities, Reform of International Finance and Trade and Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystems, is to create institutions, policies and development models that secure environmental quality in the United States and around the world.
In addition to these four programs, the Mott Foundation also funds Exploratory and Special Programs (XSP). XSP grants support unusual or unique opportunities to address significant national and international problems (Civicus) (2).
Key Related Ideas
Environment: In supporting for a sustainable environment, the Foundation participates in protecting the diversity and integrity of selected ecosystems in North America and around the world (Mott Foundation) (2).
Foundation: Foundations are organizations that most often make grants to nonprofit organizations, typically from earnings of endowment (Salamon 1998).
Partnership of Humanity: I is a central belief of the Foundation, which comes from its founder’s vision of the world where everyone is in the partnership with the rest of the human race (Mott Foundation) (2).
Philanthropy: Donation or granting of money to various worthy charitable causes a direct effect change in society; the word comes from the Greeks, meaning "love for mankind" (Salamon 1998).
Sustainable Society: The Foundation promotes a society that is just, equitable and sustainable. To achieve this goal, it is essential to work together; only then can individuals make a difference in our society and our world. Collective work leads to a systematic change (Mott Foundation) (2).
Important People Related to the Topic
- Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919): Carnegie was an industrialist, millionaire, and philanthropist, who believed that the wealthy had an obligation to give back to society. He donated much of his fortune to causes like education and peace.
- Henry Ford (1863-1947): Ford was best known as an industrialist who built Ford Motor Company. He founded the Ford Foundation in 1936, a local philanthropy in Michigan, with a broad charter to promote human welfare. The company has grown immensely, and by 1950, had become national and international in scope.
- Will Keith Kellogg (1860-1951): Kellogg was the inventor of corn flakes, and when he retired as the company's president in 1929, used his huge fortune to establish the W. K. Kellogg Foundation as one of the country's foremost philanthropic institutions.
- Charles Stewart Mott (1875-1973): Mott was a U.S. industrialist and philanthropist, and as a General Motors pioneer, he found a practical and effective way to express his interest in the community by founding the C.S. Mott Foundation in 1926.
- William S. White: White is the current chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. He has been with the Foundation since 1969, has been its president since 1976, and has served as chairman since 1988.
Related Nonprofit Organizations
- Civicus is an international alliance established in 1993 to nurture the foundation, growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world (http://www.civicus.org/new/default.asp).
- The Foundation Center, the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, is
dedicated to serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the
media, and the general public by providing comprehensive data on philanthropy in the United States. (http://www.fdncenter.org)
- Frey Foundation is a family foundation committed to working together to make a difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations and communities. (http://www.freyfdn.org)
- National Center for Family Philanthropy is a nonprofit organization which encourages families and individuals to create and sustain their philanthropic missions. The Center offers research reports on family philanthropy issues. (http://www.ncfp.org)
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a private foundation who seeks to help people help themselves. They exercise a practical application of knowledge and resources to improve the quality of life for future generations. (http://www.wkkf.org)
Related Web Sites
The Council on Foundations Web site, at http://www.cof.org, offers news, publications, job postings and conference listings relating to philanthropy in the United States.
The European Foundation Center Web site, at http://www.efc.be, features publications, conferences and program listings, details grants made by its members, and contains a focus on global affairs.
The Guide Star Web site, at http://www.guidestar.org, provides information, including 990 tax returns, about the operations and finances of foundations and nonprofit organizations.
The Independent Sector Web site, at http://www.independentsector.org, provides information about trends in the nonprofit sector; offers updates on public policy issues that impact individual donors, foundations and nonprofit organizations; and provides publications in relationship to the organization’s tracking and promoting of volunteering and giving in the United States.
Bibliography and Internet Sources
C.S. Mott Foundation. (1). About Mott. Accessed 1 October 2004. http://www.mott.org/about/founder.asp.
C.S. Mott Foundation. (2). Grant Programs. Accessed 1 October 2004.
C.S. Mott Foundation. (3). Home Page. Accessed 1 October 2004. http://www.mott.org.
C.S. Mott Foundation. (4). Resources for the Media. Accessed 1 October 2004.
Civicus. (1). Home Page. Accessed 29 September. http://www.civicus.org/new/default.asp.
Civicus. (2). Donor Profile Section. Accessed 29 September 2004. http://www.civicus.org/new/content/donorprofile5.htm.
Clotfelter Charles T. and Thomas Ehrlich. Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector in a Changing America. Indiana University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-253-21483-1.
Foundation Center, The Foundation Center Home Page. Accessed 29 September 2004. http://www.fdncenter.org.
Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Battle Creek, Michigan: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997. ISBN: 1-891445-00-6.
Salamon, Lester M. America's Nonprofit Sector: A Primer. New York: The Foundation Center, 1999. ISBN: 0-87954-801-0.
Young, Clarence H. and William A. Quinn. Foundation for living: the story of Charles Stewart Mott and Flint. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1963. ASIN: B0007EGKJ4.
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