MSU and Flint: Partnering for a healthier future

MSU’s efforts in Flint are numerous and varied, from discovering lead exposure and creating a children’s health initiative to continuing longtime medical education programs in area hospitals and fostering economic growth. Through outreach and engagement, MSU helps individuals and communities achieve their full potential. Working together with community partners, we are committed to finding lasting solutions that ensure a safer, healthier future for all members of the Flint community.


Enrolled Flint students


Spending with Flint businesses


Total economic impact in Genesee County


$1.2 Million Grant Puts Health in the Hands of Students, Community

What controls your health?

It's a complicated question, but middle schoolers in the City of Flint and Genesee county area are able to answer that question, and more, with the Health In Our Hands project. 


Why Nonprofits Are Taking Over Detroit, Flint Governance

Though nonprofit philanthropies aid cities in times of need, like when natural disasters hit, their work usually ends when the crisis subsides. But that’s not the case in Detroit and FlintNew research from Michigan State University finds that nonprofits have acquired unprecedented involvement in how these two cities are governed.


MSU Partnerships a 'promising model for the nation'

Since long before the water crisis, the people of Flint have been facing obstacles to a healthy life. Now, as Flint replaces old lead water lines and improves the quality of public drinking water, MSU and its community partners are building a model of public health interventions that adds new ingredients to the mix – ingredients that promote resilience and positive early childhood development and address a broad scope of challenges such as decreased life expectancy in the community.

Flint Inspires

Flint Registry Officially Goes Live

Flint residents now can take full advantage of the Flint Registry, an effort to connect residents to programs and other resources that serve to minimize the effects of lead on their health, while promoting wellness and recovery.  


Flint Inspires National Nutrition Prescription Program

A Flint nutrition prescription program, where fruits and vegetables are prescribed to young patients by their pediatricians, will expand nationally as a result of the recently signed U.S. Farm Bill by President Trump.


MSU Pediatrician Nationally Recognized as a Distinguished Immigrant

Mona Hanna-Attisha, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, has been named a Great Immigrant by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Flint Health Access

MSU Team Makes Health Food More Accessible in New App

A “food desert” can be described as a city in which major conventional food retailers are the minority and smaller, local retailers with mainly unhealthy, old or spoiled food are the primary food retail option.  Joshua Introne, MSU Assistant Professor, has helped develop a solution.

flint geo map

Study pinpoints areas in Flint that need better food

A Michigan State University researcher has pinpointed areas in Flint, Mich., that have unequal access to healthy, affordable food, and he plans to use the information to improve those areas most affected – low-income and minority neighborhoods.
flint registry logo

Early enrollment for Flint Registry now open

Residents of Flint who were exposed to lead-contaminated water from the city’s water system can now pre-enroll for the Flint Registry, an effort to connect residents to programs and other resources that serve to minimize the effects of lead on their health.
edible flint yard sign

MSU Edible Flint Food Garden Tour

MSU urban geographer and public health expert Rick Sadler is finding solutions to make Flint a healthier place to live.

nurse helping people

Delivering public health services to the people who need them most

Flint is one of the many Michigan communities where Michigan State University nurses deliver public health services to the people who need them most. Bringing educational health fairs and screenings to community settings, Spartan nurses have reached more than 15,000 Flint residents since the start of the city’s water crisis. Patrick Hawkins is a nurse and instructor and Rhonda Conner-Warren is an instructor and pediatric nurse practitioner in MSU’s College of Nursing.

map of flint

Public registry aims to connect Flint residents to needed care

MSU will receive approximately $3.2 million this year to begin establishing a registry of residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water from the Flint Water System during 2014-2015. The funds are the first installment of a four-year, $14.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help build and maintain the Flint Lead Exposure Registry. “This registry is an example of our long-term commitment to the residents of Flint to work together to build healthier futures and find viable public health solutions that will lead to a stronger community,” said Lou Anna K. Simon.

flint art students

Activism through art

A project facilitated by Chicago-based artist Jan Tichy brought high school English students in Flint together with high school art students in Lansing to depict life in Flint without safe water. The project culminates in an installation at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and a book filled with student work called Beyond Streaming. The installation invites visitors to open the nozzles of floor-to-ceiling copper pipes. Sounds and original poems recorded by the students will then stream out of the pipes.

dentist exam

Dental Health Fair offers free screenings to Flint residents

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and its partners will host the second annual Flint Dental Health Fair, Aug. 12. The free community event, “Food, Family and Fun,” will take place at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church, 1035 East Carpenter Road in Flint, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Families are invited to receive free oral health supplies and dental screenings from Flint-area dentists while “brushing up” on general health and insurance information and enjoying free food and fun family activities.


MSU and Mott build on partnership to improve future for Flint students

MSU’s Office of K-12 Outreach will continue to help improve educational opportunities for students in the city of Flint, thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The funding builds on an existing partnership between the Office of K-12 Outreach, part of the College of Education, and the Flint Community Schools that has already led to significant changes.

students eating lunch

Students in new summer internship program to create sustainable change

The College of Social Science at MSU has announced the creation of a new summer internship program in Flint that will allow students to create sustainable change through internship work. The Flint Summer Internship Program will require students to work 35 hours per week at one of several potential sites, focusing on a variety of topics including youth programming, education, business development, literacy programs, community revitalization and more.

college sign

MSU recognized for its medical and community partnerships

The Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, honored the MSU College of Human Medicine for its outstanding contributions to medicine and community service. The medical college received the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service recognizing its diverse partnerships in Flint and in rural Michigan areas that focus on improving health care across the state. One of the nation’s first community-based medical schools, the College of Human Medicine has been partnering with local communities since its founding in 1964.


MSU helps Flint students understand diabetes

MSU will help young people and their families understand what factors put them at risk for disease by expanding a program in the Flint Community Schools and surrounding community. "Education is a true and effectual catalyst. Even the simplest things we learn change us in some way,” said Sharon Saddler, a Flint resident living with diabetes and a representative of Flint-based Community-Based Organization Partners, or CBOP. “Our hope is that the education that we provide through this project regarding Type 2 diabetes will not only change young lives, but will save young lives.”

Extension director

MSU's presence in Flint nationally recognized

Michigan State University Extension was honored by the United States Department of Agriculture for the organization’s quick and comprehensive response to the residents of Flint affected by lead-contaminated drinking water.

“Working with a strong coalition gives us the opportunity to put science into practice. Our work in Flint is not done,” Deanna East, an MSU Extension associate director focused on health and nutrition programming, said. “We have been embedded in the Flint community long before the water emergency, and we’ll be here long after. We will continue to connect communities with evidence-based resources. That’s what Extension is all about.”

water tower

Universities continue to collaborate to ensure safe drinking water

Researchers from MSU, UM and Wayne State University are conducting studies to determine the best ways to manage the type of point-of-use water filters being used by Flint residents. Manufacturers typically recommend replacing filters after processing approximately 100 gallons. Susan Masten, professor of civil and environmental engineering at MSU, noted that the team is examining if this point-of-use replacement schedule is best for the Flint water distribution system.


A nurse’s obligation

College of Nursing faculty have spearheaded initiatives that assist Flint residents. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Patrick Hawkins, leads efforts to increase access to care for Flint residents, while Rhonda Conner-Warren, Assistant Professor, volunteers her skills to make a difference in the community that raised her. Alongside numerous MSU nursing faculty and students, four community service events have delivered on-site care via counseling and lead screening to more than 4,700 residents.

grocery sign

Connecting growers to the community

A Michigan State University researcher is using his mapping expertise to help a farmers market and other local food sources go mobile in Flint, bringing healthier options closer to those most in need.

water faucet

Learning from mistakes

The Flint water crisis has far-reaching implications for water utilities across the United States.  In an effort to learn from Flint, the American Water Works Association hosted a roundtable discussion on the crisis with four faculty members from MSU who have been directly involved: Janice A. Beecher, director, Institute of Public Utilities; Mona Hanna-Attisha, director, Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Hurley Medical Center; Susan J. Masten, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Joan B. Rose, professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. As Dr. Beecher said during the roundtable “At a very personal level for everyone, regardless of roles and responsibilities, the fundamental lesson is ‘do your job.’ Do what you were trained and hired to do because the public and the public interest depend on it, and the consequences of neglecting your duty can be dire.”

doctor and child

Promise for Flint

Physician Mona Hanna-Attisha of MSU's College of Human Medicine is championing the long-term well-being of the city’s children.


You Can Trust that I Will

The overall goal is to restore the trust and health of families in Flint. You can trust that I will volunteer, I will be there, and I will bring water. I will bring my stethoscope and nursing expertise. I will bring my caring compassion to help the community that raised me up as a child. I will support my Flint family, friends, and colleagues.


Universities, community organizations partner to address Flint’s public health challenges

MSU joins a coalition of universities and community-based organizations to ensure community needs stay at the forefront in current and future research efforts in Flint.


Putting more healthy food on the table

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and Tom Gores’ FlintNOW initiative are partnering with the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative to give Flint families better access to healthy food.


MSU’s roots in Flint education run deep

For more than a half-century, MSU’s education scholars have worked closely with Flint students, educators and community members to support and strengthen the city’s schools. Whether helping expand Flint’s revolutionary community education model 50 years ago, or working to boost student achievement through a new $2 million project, MSU’s roots in Flint education run deep.

flint river

MSU makes Master of Social Work more accessible with Flint-based program

At a time when service needs are great and increasingly complex, the Flint MSW program seeks to create access to education where it is most needed.


Empowering Flint with information

A new mobile device app called "Empower Flint" was developed by a team of researchers at Michigan State University and WKAR, its affiliate PBS station, in collaboration with Flint residents who test piloted the app. Its goal is to provide residents with a step-by-step checklist of the most important action items they should take to protect themselves, their families and even their pets in dealing with the lead water crisis.


Testing the water; making sure infrastructure is sound

MSU’s Susan Masten is a civil and environmental engineer and has been busy testing some Flint River samples for certain contaminants, in particular something called trihalomethanes. THM is a byproduct of the disinfection process—which used chlorine—and can be carcinogenic. Masten said one problem facing Flint’s water system is there is less water usage. Less usage means it sits in the pipes longer providing more time for reactions that corrode pipes and break down chlorine.

dr mona

Flint water whistleblower recognized by Time

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center and assistant professor of Pediatrics and Human Development at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people for her research discovering that children in Flint had unsafe levels of lead in their blood from contaminated water.

film crew

Faces of Flint

How is the lead contamination of Flint’s water supply affecting the lives of everyday people in the city? "Faces of Flint" is a series of documentary video shorts and radio features that will air on MSU’s WKAR TV and radio that looks at how people—black, white, Hispanic, rich, poor—are coping with the situation.

downtown flint

Finding Public Health Solutions

The lead water crisis shined an international spotlight on Flint and brought into focus a bigger picture of the disparities that make life hard for many people in the community. Michigan State has been helping address Flint’s most pressing public health issues through its Division of Public Health. On Feb. 17, officials from MSU updated the Flint community on several public health issues, including how we will work to help the children now and in the future.  

little boy pointing to hand

Big Ten Network Shines a Light

The Big Ten Network has stepped in to help raise awareness and funds for the citizens in Flint.  The network has created a public service announcement and has written stories on how MSU and U of M are working together to help the people of Flint forge a brighter future.

flint map

Discovering elevated lead levels

A team of MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital doctors and researchers discovered elevated lead levels and intervened on behalf of Flint’s children. The team included Mona Hanna-Attisha, Rick Sadler, Allison Schnepp and researcher Jenny LaChance. They analyzed lead levels in children five years old and younger and found the levels increased significantly after the change to the Flint River as the city’s water source.

girl on computer

Fighting crime, reviving neighborhoods

For more than 35 years, MSU criminal justice researchers have worked with Flint residents, business owners and police to fight crime and blight. From the creation of community policing in the late 1970s to a current project aimed at reviving the University Avenue Corridor, MSU criminologists have a long history of conducting problem-solving research in Flint.

bottled water

Responding to the water crisis

Two MSU faculty members were named to Gov. Rick Snyder’s Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee. The 17-member committee will determine long-term solutions for Flint’s water system.

doctor and patient

Beyond the lead water crisis: Flipping the story

Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, assistant professor, MSU College of Human Medicine and director of the MSU-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, along with her team, is credited with discovering the increased levels of lead in children in Flint. In an update to the Flint community on Feb. 17, Dr. Mona explained how she and her team will work to “flip” the story so the kids do not become statistics of lead poisoning.


Fighting lead with nutrition

The foods Flint families prepare and serve can help limit the effects of children’s exposure to lead. Leaders in food safety and security, MSU experts currently are visiting family and group childcare settings to educate providers about nutrition. In addition, MSU along with Hurley Children’s Hospital have prepared a guide and compiled a list of food assistance resources for Flint families.

farmers market sign

Feeding a City

Access to clean water isn't the only health issue facing Flint. Since 2008, Michigan State University public health expert, Rick Sadler, has been mapping out areas of the city that have had almost no access to healthier food options and evaluating solutions that could help remedy the problem.

flint river

Helping the fiscal recovery

Economist Eric Scorsone and fellow policy and fiscal experts from MSU have worked with Flint officials since 2009—two years before the city was placed under a state-appointed emergency manager—and that partnership will continue as the city addresses its water infrastructure issues. MSU’s role has included training City Council members on budget and fiscal matters and holding strategic planning sessions for City Council and the city management team. MSU’s research into the deeper issues facing Flint also can serve as a guide for other urban communities in distress.

children playing

Addressing the health of Flint’s children

MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital have formed the Pediatric Public Health Initiative to address the Flint community’s population-wide lead exposure and help all Flint children grow up healthy and strong, giving them a better chance at future success.


Leading in medicine

The Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved program helps MSU College of Human Medicine students develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to meet the varied medical needs of urban, rural and international underserved populations. Students work in the Flint community to positively influence individual and group health behaviors.


Collaborating on community projects

In 2015, the College of Arts and Letters funded four collaborative community projects proposed by CAL faculty that aimed to bolster community relations, create shared research opportunities through community engagement and incorporate the goals of the city of Flint’s 20-year strategic plan, Imagine Flint. Faculty members collaborated with Flint residents who served on the Arts and Culture Task Force and/or Flint institutions. All proposals were reviewed by a committee of two Flint Task Force members, two CAL faculty members with extensive experience in community engagement and Robert Brown, associate director of university-community partnerships for MSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement.

Dr Mona

Answering questions about lead exposure in children

Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative partnership between MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, and her team are working to communicate information and implement interventions that will lessen the impact of the exposure on those most vulnerable—children under age six. She answers questions about challenges children may face now and in the future and how parents can help.

Joan rose

Testing water quality

MSU’s Joan Rose, a public health expert in water quality and waterborne viruses, is working to improve water quality testing for lead, Legionella and other contaminants. According to Rose, a rapid-response water diagnostic service for communities needs to be developed and modern technologies for water quality testing be put in place to avoid future water crises.

community garden

Partnering with Flint for more than a century

Michigan State University and Flint both were founded in 1855 and the university has been working closely with the city for more than 100 years. Specifically, MSU Extension has been helping the residents of Flint to solve local problems, do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower children for successful futures.

MSU sign

Expanding community-based medical education

MSU’s College of Human Medicine has educated medical students at Flint-area hospitals since 1969. In 2014, the college announced a $9 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation that would support an expansion of the medical school in downtown Flint.


Keeping your pets safe from lead

Pets, not just people, can be exposed to lead. Michigan State University veterinary experts are arming Flint residents with the information they need to ensure their four-legged friends stay healthy and safe from lead poisoning

doctor and child

Supporting the healthy development of Flint’s children

The MSU Pediatric Public Health Fund was created to support interventions for the children of Flint affected by lead exposure. Tools and resources for health assessment and continued research are necessary for improving children’s health and development.

water delivery

Student-athletes lend a helping hand

More than 30 volunteers from the Michigan State University Community, including student-athletes from football, cross country/track, swimming/diving and rowing, joined Spartan Marching Band members, student group leaders and Athletics Department staff members in distributing water and recycling bags. Flint native and MSU running back Gerald Holmes returned to his hometown to help in the relief efforts. The volunteers also included former Spartan wide receiver and current Houston Texan Keith Mumphery.