Summer of 2017 Foundation Center Midwest launched its 40th anniversary campaign – Doing Good Better; an engaging series of programs and activities including this blog Visions & Voices to help commemorate forty years of service and the promotion of philanthropy in Cleveland and across the Midwest.
We believe in the power of the story of Foundation Center. We also recognize that our story has many contributors – impassioned individuals who seek to change the world, committed nonprofits that meet the needs of community without tiring, inspired funders who desire to impact issues and the communities they care about most through grantmaking and partnership, our dedicated staff who strive to fulfill our mission daily and our partners who span the country and globe helping to ensure access to Foundation Center databases and tools.
In the midst of our commemoration, I find myself often thinking of my own story and journey in philanthropy. I’m a small-town girl from Alliance, Ohio who was blessed to be born into a family that was anchored in the values of faith, family and giving. A family who for generations practiced and perfected giving – recognizing that wealth or our lack thereof did not determine our ability to impact community. Our grassroots organization, Johnson’s Athletic Club, has provided youth programming and sports, supported civic engagement, and lifted up education and scholarship for more than six decades.
My hometown was fertile training ground, preparing me early for my journey in philanthropy. Before the sixth grade I had a strong foundational understanding of poverty, racism, classism, injustice; systemic issues like education, workforce, healthcare, economic development and so much more. Over the next two decades I would build my personal capacity through education, training, networking, learning and immersion experiences; applying my knowledge, skill and talent to organizations and causes that aligned with my personal mission of promoting humanity, building opportunity and solving social and economic problems.
Fast forward to present day and my service as Director of Foundation Center Midwest. I am fortunate to meet, engage, influence and witness the journey of so many unique individuals and organizations that are connected through their common desire to improve the world. By year end 2017, Foundation Center Midwest served a total of 8,238 consumers through OL chats, in-person training, programs, and contacts through library visits, phone calls and emails.
They come to Foundation Center seeking resources, guidance, access to knowledge, tools and networking; contributing so much more through their shared stories, learning and experiences. Their stories, their journey, bring into full view daily why Foundation Center is a valuable asset, not just to Cleveland, but around the world.
As we bring our 40th anniversary campaign to a close and look enthusiastically to the future; we know the journey ahead of Foundation Center will come with challenge, opportunity, complexity, uncertainty and change – yet there is joy in the journey.
Foundation Center’s leadership has been thoughtful in its approach to building the global data platform for philanthropy, using data responsibility and maintaining public trust as described by our President, Brad K. Smith. We continue to invest in technology to ensure the social sector can connect to the resources it needs to thrive. We build meaningful relationships in our anchor regional cities (Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and San Francisco) and around the world, serving as strong partners and thought leaders. We champion transparency in philanthropy. We work diligently to stay on top of issues and opportunities that impact philanthropy. We continue to expand access, cultivating a network of Funding Information Network partners in the U.S. and around the globe so that individuals like you, can make change happen.
It’s been a treat to share the stories and meaningful encounters between individuals, organizations and Foundation Center Midwest over the years. On behalf of the team here in Cleveland and our entire organization – Thank You for including Foundation Center as a place of learning, connection and resources as you journey along to make change.