The Weinberg Foundation is working to expand its role in the philanthropic community far beyond being simply a provider of grants. We seek to become known as a leader in helping to build the field while also identifying and supporting the most innovative ideas and practices within various program areas.
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Rachel's Most Recent Blog Post
A tribute to Harry and Jeanette; an expression of gratitude for our many partners
by Rachel Garbow Monroe
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation recently hosted its Annual Community Gathering, a celebration of the Foundation’s mission, partnerships, and past year’s accomplishments. This year’s event featured a new venue, Baltimore’s historic Hippodrome Theatre; the informative and entertaining remarks of Bridgespan’s Tom Tierney; and approximately 700 Foundation friends including community, business, and political leaders from Maryland and neighboring states, as well as many special guests from Jewish Federations across North America. What an amazing audience!
While the Annual Community Gathering, itself, is special to all of us as a signature event for the Weinberg Foundation, it is most significant because of what it represents in terms of the Foundation’s work. Many years ago the Weinberg Foundation made a commitment to build and enhance its reputation as a national leader within the nonprofit philanthropic community. We hope that today you find the Weinberg Foundation to be even more professional, more responsive, and more engaged with the community – in our hometowns and around the world.
The Trustees of the Weinberg Foundation have embraced these efforts, and I want to thank them for their leadership and support. I would also like to thank our superb program directors for being the hands and feet of the Foundation – helping to identify superior direct service providers and then doing the hard work of research and due diligence, moving mountains of paperwork, and reporting back to the Board – all before a single grant is made. Supporting all of these wonderful colleagues is a dedicated group of administrative, financial, facilities, and communications professionals bringing to 24 the total staffing of the Weinberg Foundation’s Maryland office. We are proud to accomplish so much with a comparatively small team of smart, passionate and kind professionals.
The Weinberg staff supports the Foundation’s grantmaking not only through their daily work, but also directly through the Foundation’s Annual Employee Giving Program. So far, more than $750,000 has been awarded through grants recommended by every member of the Foundation staff. Each year, every staff member goes through the process of recommending a grant – including a site visit, a financial review, and a formal due diligence grant proposal. For the 2013 Annual Employee Giving Program, the individual grant amounts are increasing to $20,000 for each grant recommendation. I don’t know of a better professional development opportunity for each Foundation employee and have not yet found anyone doing a similar program in the country.
But above all else, each of us at the Weinberg Foundation remembers that none of this work would happen outside the legacy of Harry and Jeanette Weinberg. We host this event in November to remember Harry, as he died on November 4, 1990 – just over 22 years ago. I believe I speak for everyone at the Foundation when I say that there is a distinct sense of personal pride and fulfillment in being able to be part of such a meaningful mission.
As I reflect on the past year, it is difficult to single out a handful of grants that somehow rise above hundreds of others. There are a few projects that are particularly special to the Foundation, and to me. I sincerely believe these examples reflect the Weinberg Foundation’s efforts to become a better and more effective partner with all of you in our combined work to help those who need assistance in this moment of their lives.
The Foundation’s commitment to caring for the oldest and frailest among us is at the heart of two major projects focused on older adults in the community-at-large. Three years ago, the Weinberg Foundation launched a multi-year Caregiver Initiative that provided approximately $9 million in funding for 14 projects in 9 states. Evaluations of each of these projects are providing the guidance for replicating proven models that save millions of dollars by keeping individuals at home rather than in institutional care and reducing stress of the family member or friend providing the care.
As part of this overall vision of caring for caregivers, the Weinberg Foundation is also funding the New York City Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative in partnership with the UJA Federation of New York, PHI, and the Visiting Nurses Association -- as well as other funders including the New York Community Trust, the Tiger Founation, and the Surdna Foundation.
The Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative will establish a best practices baseline for recruitment, training, and supervision of paid homecare aides. The Weinberg Foundation is providing $1.5 million of the total $2.7 million project cost.
This focus on caregivers is the basis of a new Weinberg Foundation program which I had the privilege and pleasure of announcing at our Annual Community Gathering. The Weinberg Foundation dreams of Making Maryland the Best Place to Grow Old by 2020. This new multi-year, large-scale effort will work with existing nonprofits to develop and re-imagine all of the services we will need in Maryland to support all caregivers who serve older adults as well as adults with disabilities or special needs in Maryland. We will be announcing more details about Making Maryland the Best Place to Grow Old by 2020 in the coming months, and we hope many of the Weinberg Foundation's partners will join in this effort.
And speaking of working together -- by now, you must know how proud I am of the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project, also known as the Weinberg Library Project. Last December the Weinberg Library Project was launched. With more than 30 seriously engaged partners, we are designing, building, equipping and staffing new and renovated libraries where existing public funding can be leveraged.
Of course we hope the libraries will make a meaningful and lasting change in the school and the communities they serve. But we are not just hoping. Across the United States, more than 60 studies have shown clear evidence of the connection between student achievement and the presence of school libraries with qualified librarians. As part of this project, the Weinberg Foundation has engaged a rigorous evaluation by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium to demonstrate proven results.
Three libraries are already up and running, and the next three are well underway in planning and design, including Arlington Elementary/Middle School, The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary, and East Baltimore Community School, newly re-named the Henderson Hopkins Elementary School.
Working with so many superior nonprofits and other partners -- borrowing a few words from our Annual Gathering speaker Tom Tierney -- I believe we are making a difference. Together, we are taking smart, new risks – we are learning and sharing knowledge – and we continue to aim higher and higher. Again, thank you allowing me – and the Weinberg Foundation – to be part of this incredible journey.Continue reading