In a city like Flint, which has experienced public health crises that have eroded trust, public health efforts must give residents a seat at the table — and a voice. That’s what an expanded partnership between Michigan State University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation sets out to do: involve residents at every step of creating solutions for a healthier future and a platform to impact change in areas they identify as a priority.
In January 2022, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $25 million to expand the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s public health presence in Flint. The gift extended a yearslong partnership between MSU and the Flint community, which began in 2011 when the Mott Foundation granted $12 million over two years for the College of Human Medicine’s expansion and relocation of its public health program from East Lansing to Flint.
“The investment is moving MSU and its community partners in Flint even closer toward their shared goal of bringing better health to the city’s residents through efforts that include an endowed fund to increase public health faculty, academic research and community health collaborations — building on the work being done since the partnership’s beginning,” says Wayne R. McCullough, interim chair of the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health and director of the Master of Public Health Program.
“One of the things we aspire to is to create the opportunity for researchers to come into our community and be a part of our community and not just do research on our community,” says E. Yvonne Lewis, a Flint community partner and president and CEO of the National Center for African American Health Consciousness.
The work brings together physicians, researchers, residents and community advocates to cocreate solutions that best meet the city’s needs.
“It really embodies the spirit here at MSU in Flint,” says Mona Hanna-Attisha, associate dean for public health and C. S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, who in 2015 discovered elevated blood lead levels in Flint’s children. “We have a whole lot of people who care a whole awful lot, and they are rolling up their sleeves to do better.”
Originally published in MSU Today on October 17, 2023