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Donation

Elon Musk Helps Fix Flint Water Crisis

Back in July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he would help fix the water quality issues in Flint, Michigan.

“Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding,” he tweeted, in response to a follower saying it couldn’t be done.

A few days later, the office of Flint Mayor Karen Weaver confirmed that he had, in fact, reached out. On October 4, the Flint Community Schools district confirmed that the Musk Foundation would be giving every school in the city new water stations with building-wide filtration to ensure that Flint’s 4,500 students will have access to clean water.

“Thank you… for investing in the health/future well-being [of] FCS Students! Your generous donation will help us replace ALL water fountains w/ NEW WATER STATIONS & WATER FILTRATION at ALL SCHOOLS! Looking forward to our burgeoning partnership! More to come!” the school district tweeted.

Musk responded, “You’re most welcome. Hope to do more to help in the future.”

The Musk Foundation, which is based in California, is heavily focused on advocacy, STEM education, and pediatric research. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk and his brother, the foundation has donated on average $800,000 per year in grants and disbursements to various causes. The plumbing renovations in Flint are estimated to cost nearly $500,000, which is why it was impossible for the bankrupt city to manage without aid.

Earlier this year, nearby Detroit shut off all drinking water to the city’s 106 schools, serving 50,000 students. Flint may be the flagship for water quality control, but the problem is much, much larger. Hopefully, Musk’s example will lead to more community involvement in solving this matter.

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News

Detroit Institute of Arts Secures Nonprofit Funding

Culture is an important part of cities, and the arts are an important part of culture. That’s why cities like Detroit need to protect museums and galleries even when money is tight.

Recently, a federal judge approved Detroit’s bankruptcy plan, which allows the city to eliminate $7 billion in debt, paying creditors pennies on the dollar. While that plan does harm pensioners, they have faced worse cuts in previous models, and this plan is working in part because the city no longer needs to worry about the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

The DIA is an important part of the city’s cultural heritage and is home to numerous works of art. All together, the institute is valued at roughly $4.6 billion. Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Matisse, Bruegel the Elder. It’s an impressive collection, but it’s also expensive to maintain. In 2013, the city’s emergency manager said that the DIA would have to chip in $500 million to help with Detroit’s debts, which would no doubt involve selling some of those works.

But the museum went on a fundraising spree and managed to raise $800 million—$300 million of which came from nine nonprofit foundations. $200 million came from the State of Michigan, though Governor Snyder has sworn up and down that he wouldn’t bail Detroit out. That’s a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but the state and the city have a complicated relationship, in which the state likes to pretend that the city isn’t its responsibility.

But now the DIA is being placed in the hands of a charitable trust, which will allow it to operate without worrying about municipal finances in the future. This is a huge relief to the museum and to the people who love it. Detroit may be making progress on its money problems, but it’s still bankrupt. Perhaps nonprofit solutions can address some of the cities other problems as well.

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Organizations Profiles

Michigan Teens Take Action

michigan community foundation
IMG: via youthgrantmakers.org

In the late 1990’s, the Kellogg Foundation issued a challenge in Michigan called the Michigan Community Youth Foundations Project.  The foundation would match 50% of funds raised by young people in order to create an endowment fund for community projects.  Today, the fund created by teens is worth $40 million altogether and awards up to $2.5 million annually.  The fund is managed by 86 groups around the Michigan known as Youth Action Committees.  The groups are comprised of young volunteers that learn how to write grants, engage a volunteer base and manage financial assets for non-profits.  Many teens say that their biggest takeaway from participating is learning that one person can make a difference in their community.  Several of them go on to pursue degrees in social work.

The Kellogg foundation believes that by investing in youth over an eighteen year period, it will help form a new generation of passionate citizens that will continue the charitable efforts for several generations after the initial funding period has ended.  As these children progress through adulthood, they will be more involved in their respective communities and contribute to the well-being of others throughout their lives.  Using fund matching is a way to engage volunteers and motivate them to participate in all aspects of the charity.

The project also sponsors leadership conferences and internships for participants and awards standout achievements.  Last year, one active group awarded over $40,000 in grants to nonprofits and schools in the local community.  Children as young as seven also participated by writing grants on projects with subjects that ranged from environmental conservation to anti-bullying.