Elsewhere online
May 12, 2016

Foundations’ Flint Pledge Fuels Debate on Philanthropy’s Role

The Christian Science Monitor looks at this week’s commitment by 10 foundations to pump $125 million into Flint, Mich., and what it portends about philanthropy’s role in responding to crises to which governments contribute or are slow to address. The organizations announced the pledge Wednesday to help Flint recover from the crisis caused by its state-mandated switch to a different water supply with high levels of lead.

The aid will support ongoing testing of lead levels as well as community groups, economic development, and other efforts to revive the largely black and low-income city. “This is the new normal, in terms of how philanthropy can really increase its impact and be nimble while we wait for the state and federal government” to act, said says La June Montgomery Tabron, CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the participating grant makers.

Some observers said the pledge underscores a trend of philanthropy stepping in when bureaucracy and partisanship bog down government’s response. “It’s great that we have charitable organizations that are willing to step up and try to help,” said Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economics professor. “But the only reason we’re talking about this in the first place is that governments, most notably the state of Michigan, just dropped the ball in a huge way.”