Kicking off the 2017-18 MPP Speaker Series, MSU alumnus (MPA, 1997) Neal Hegarty came to discuss the role of foundations in the non-profit sector. Mr. Hegarty is the Vice President of Programs at the C. S. Mott Foundation, based in Flint, Michigan. He was also joined by Amy Hovey, the Special Projects Coordinator for the Flint Area at the Mott Foundation.
The Mott Foundation was established in 1926 with the goal of developing and caring for the welfare of Flint, Michigan. The founder, Charles Stewart Mott, believed in what was called “shoe leather philanthropy,” believing that the Foundation should listen to, learn from, and observe the people and programs it funds and impacts. Mr. Mott originally made his fortune working with the General Motors Corporation and decided to give back to his adopted community with an initial donation of $326,000. Today, the Mott Foundation’s endowment is roughly $2.7 billion. Over the past nine decades, it has donated $3 billion to organizations in 62 countries, with the most efforts focused in Michigan and the United States as a whole.
Mr. Hegarty and Ms. Hovey led a presentation on the basics of charitable foundations, the role that the rather unique American tax structure plays in charitable giving – including information on the topical Johnson Amendment, and the history and impact of the Mott Foundation. Beyond this, they shared their extensive experience in the non-profit and government sectors, including discussing effective public engagement and career advice to the students.
After the presentation, Mr. Hegarty and Ms. Hovey fielded a variety of questions from the students on a wide array of topics. Principally, the students were interested in the operations of the Mott Foundation, its coordination of relief efforts for the Flint Water Crisis, and the potential impact of legislative changes to the American tax structure being discussed in Congress.
More information on the Mott Foundation and its ongoing projects can be found on its website at https://www.mott.org/.