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The Flint Initiative

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Words by Scot Tatelman

Much like we did last back to school season for tens of thousands of students living in Chicago’s most underfunded communities, STATE will focus its entire back to school efforts on the children of Flint.

Our multi-layered approach will raise awareness around the ongoing water crisis, shed light on the unsung heroes who are rising above the negativity around them, and gear up 10,000-plus students for day one of school.

by STATE Co-Founder, Scot Tatelman

In 9th grade, my social studies teacher, Mr Keeney showed us a film about the struggles of Flint, Michigan entitled “Roger & Me.” I remember watching it in awe, wondering how this type of thing could happen in my own country… not too far away from where I grew up in Massachusetts. The film always stuck with me, and since we launched STATE, I itched to find a way to support Flint in some way, beyond just donating backpacks. Not too long ago, Flint thrived as one of the nation's largest automakers. It has since sunk into deep economic crises, leading to high crime rates, and repeatedly being named among "the most dangerous cities in the US."

Four years ago, a man-made water crisis forced its residents - a majority of which are black and 40% in poverty - to live with lead poisoned water. Following dozens of lawsuits, officials resignations, criminal indictments and a federal public health state of emergency, Flint residents are still living with the realities of this deadly issue. Four years after it started. Four. Years.

I once again find myself in awe that this public health crisis, affecting thousands of American citizens could continue happening in our own backyard for this absurd amount of time. Recently, funding for bottled water programs has dried up despite decaying pipes and drinking and showering water that is undeniably hazardous. Despite public opinion that this crisis is behind Flint, and outcries for help, the issue and dangers are still very much a part of residents' daily lives. So… what do we tell the kids of Flint? Thousands of them who have been overlooked and marginalized simply because of their zip codes?

We can start by shedding light on their struggles and stories, highlighting the positive efforts and people driving their city, and gearing them up for back to school, so they are equipped to beat the odds so stacked against them. We are proud to present our newest #WhatDoWeTellTheKids project, featuring Flint’s Fantastic Five, who represent everything this city is all about: resiliency, pride and love. Their superhero personas are highlighted here, amplified by the incredibly talented illustrator, Butcher Billy.

Open Submissions

Share your story.

The #WhatDoWeTellTheKids platform was created to shed light, share stories, and continue to make sure we as a brand - and as human beings - are on the right side of history. We’re always building on the ways in which we can do that, so if there’s a cause or issue that you feel needs extra attention, send us a note! We are fueled by you… our State family!

Scot Tatelman

Scot is State’s Co-Founder and ‘Give-Back Guy.’ Scot defines the term ‘social entrepreneur’ and has made it his life’s work to balance profitable business ventures with making the world a better place. Scot has worked to evolve their charitable model through STATE’s innovative giving initiatives and #WhatDoWeTellTheKids platform.

View all stories by Scot here.
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