March 6, 2016 (FLINT) ― Mayor Karen Weaver today was joined by Chelsea Clinton and a host of community partners to launch the Flint WaterWorks initiative. Flint WaterWorks is a new program that will provide Flint youth with meaningful, paying jobs to distribute clean water, healthy food, and nutrition information, and provide assistance as Flint restores residential water services.
Flint WaterWorks was inspired by and developed in partnership with Hillary Clinton, whose team helped Mayor Weaver as she worked to establish the public-private partnership program. Included in the effort are a wide range of community partners, ranging from those in workforce development to those in water distribution, health and social services.
“I am so pleased to begin the Flint WaterWorks pilot project this month and to give Flint teens and young adults an opportunity to gain work experience and skills training while making life better for Flint’s residents,” Mayor Weaver said. “People in Flint have had to rely on bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing for far too long while dealing with the city’s lead-tainted water, and we must help them get their damaged pipes replaced and provide the water, healthy food and nutrition information they need.”
The goal of the new Flint WaterWorks program is to provide jobs and opportunities for 100 young people ages 16-24 in the community who are out of school and not working. These “opportunity youth” will be hired to address a number of critical services needed to help Flint residents dealing with lead-tainted water. Those services include clean water delivery, access to healthy foods and nutrition information, and making Flint’s water infrastructure safe by helping with Mayor Weaver’s Fast Start initiative to remove all lead and lead-tainted service lines in the city of 100,000.
The first pipe was replaced under the Fast Start program on Friday, March 4th. Thirty more pipes are scheduled to be replaced in the next 30 days, with many more to be replaced in the months ahead.
“We know that Flint has a long road to recovery,” Hillary Clinton said. “But we cannot wait another minute to help Mayor Weaver and the people of Flint with real solutions that will address this water crisis, and the ongoing economic challenges that face the people of Flint. Too many young people are out of work, out of school and out of hope. Flint WaterWorks is just one small part in helping Flint on the road to recovery, and I am honored to be a part of it. But I know it is not enough. I will keep calling for Congress to pass a federal aid package and for the state to step up and provide the resources Flint needs to replace the water infrastructure and provide health and educational services to all the children exposed to lead-tainted water. I will not for one minute turn my back on Flint or forget what is happening here.”
Key community partners who are working on Flint WaterWorks include the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Mott Community College, University of Michigan-Flint, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, My Brother’s Keeper of Michigan, the Flint NAACP, the Greater Flint Health Coalition, Summer Youth Initiative of the Flint-Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Flint STRIVE, Genesee-Shiawassee-Thumb Michigan Works!, the American Red Cross of the Michigan Region, and the City of Flint.
Flint WaterWorks is starting with a $500,000 catalyst contribution from J.B. and M.K. Pritzker to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
Flint WaterWorks will begin as a pilot program this month and last through Nov. 30, 2016. The city has about 10,138 youth ages 16-24 not in school and not working. One of the goals of Flint WaterWorks is to help more of them ultimately find employment or go on to higher education. The City of Flint and its partners view Flint WaterWorks as the beginning of a longer-term community movement to match youth to community problem-solving and employment opportunities.
Mayor Weaver launched the Fast Start service line replacement program in early February and is launching the Flint WaterWorks initiative this month after lead was discovered in the water supplying the city. A state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water source in 2014 to the Flint River without the required anti-corrosive chemicals being added. The corrosive water removed a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, allowing lead to leach into the water going to businesses and homes.