Shaefer's Flint collaboration making news

May 12, 2023

A new program that will grant Flint families with new babies $7,500 has been making the news, as it addresses "one of the most fundamental social determinants of health: poverty." The program, Rx Kids, received an initial grant of $15 million from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which will be triggered when the program raises its own matching $15 million. 

Luke Shaefer,  Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,  Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy and Director of Poverty Solutions, is working on the program, which is led by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who was at the forefront of advocating for Flint residents during the water crisis. She has said she wants this program to be a blueprint for public policy and for other programs around the state and the country.

Shafer told the Michigan Advance that the blueprint coming from Flint is especially empowering for residents who have long been disenfranchised. 

“This is something where Flint becomes a leader for the nation; that’s a really powerful thing,” Shaefer said. "We’ve already spent time at the White House, at the U.S. Capitol, in Lansing, and I’ve never had a project like this where people get this happy. I’ve been working in poverty for a long time, and I think the design of this and values imbued in it are fundamentally different than other efforts.”

On WKAR, Shafer said the unrestricted aspect of the grant is important. “Families tend to know what they need the most. Some families need food, some families need help paying the rent, some families need it for childcare, and some families need it to buy books and toys to help kids thrive. This is the beauty of cash.  A couple of the other pieces of the puzzle on this is sometimes we have programs that only serve very poor families. We have other programs that serve middle class families. Part of the vision of Rx Kids that starts with Dr. Mona is that we're going to serve all the kids. Raising kids is expensive and it's hard. Society has a reason to come alongside parents in that work."

And the Huffington Post lauded the program, noting, "Flint Showed Us The Dangers Of Poverty. Now It Could Show Us How To Fight It." 

Flint Showed Us The Dangers Of Poverty. Now It Could Show Us How To Fight It., Huffington Post, May 5, 2023

Rx Kids program aims to tackle poverty to improve health of Flint moms and babies, WKAR, May 3, 2023

‘An infusion of joy’: How a Flint pediatrician hopes to improve health and dismantle poverty, Michigan Advance, April 30, 2023

Grant aims to provide Flint moms, babies with cash payments to improve health, Detroit Free Press, April 25, 2023