Partner Spotlight: Flint Community Education Initiative


Is your student struggling with attendance? Are you looking for engaging learning opportunities for your family? Maybe you want to quit smoking? Whatever your needs may be, there are places in Flint that can connect you with all of the resources you seek: your Community Schools.

“We’ve had some situations where parents show up on a Friday night and need immediate shelter for their family,” says Kerry Downs, Community Schools program manager, Crim Fitness Foundation. “We’re able to help with that.”

It’s not that the schools themselves provide emergency shelter—but Flint Community Schools, International Academy of Flint and Flint Cultural Center Academy* still aren’t your standard day schools. Each represents a unique set of partnerships to a wide range of services through the Flint Community Education Initiative (Flint CEI).

“If you let your school’s Community School Director (CSD) know what you’re looking for, they will be able to discern who they should connect you with,” says Downs, adding that you don’t have to have a child at the school to utilize these services. “We’re open to all community members.”

As many afterschool families are aware, they can access high-quality enrichment opportunities through Flint CEI. YouthQuest serves as the initiative’s lead partner for expanded learning and provides afterschool, summer and intersession programming at each school. What’s more, parents also have access to a variety of classes throughout the year. They might join their students on Fridays for the family literacy programming provided at each school. And, starting this month, they can participate in courses covering parenting, couponing, yoga and more.  

Another major resource is the initiative’s partnership with Genesee Health Plan. Through Flint CEI, each school is assigned a Community Health Worker who can connect families with everything from health insurance to immunizations. For example, if a student is missing her glasses in class, the Community Health Worker can connect her family to resources to get the eyewear repaired or to make an optometrist appointment, if needed.

“They also serve as success mentors for students who are struggling with attendance challenges,” Downs says. “Our Community Health Workers usually make the first call to a family when a child is absent. If they find that the student is sick or there’s been a family emergency, they can ask about the family’s needs and connect them to important resources.”

By opening schools outside of their traditional hours to all members of the community, Flint CEI builds upon the “lighted schoolhouse” model first established by C.S. Mott and Frank J. Manley in 1935. More than 85 years have passed, but the goal remains the same.

“We want to make sure our families are thriving by supporting student success, partnering with families and cultivating vibrant communities,” Downs says.

To learn more about the Flint Community Education Initiative, visit

*YouthQuest is not currently offered at the Flint Cultural Center Academy.

Become a Student Success Mentor

One of the most effective ways to address chronic absenteeism is to pair students with an adult mentor, which is why the Flint Community Education Initiative is seeking volunteers over the age of 18 who are willing to serve as Success Mentors.

As a Success Mentor, you must be willing to commit to meeting with your mentee for 30 minutes during lunch at least twice a week. During this time, you can eat, read, play games or do homework together.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years. and successfully pass through the school’s background check process by submitting an ICHAT form.

For more information, contact Kerry Downs at or 810-201-8361.

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