It’s Easter, a joyful season for each of us as individuals and for our Catholic community – our Church. And who emulates joy more than Pope Francis? In response to a question about his calm demeanor after being named pope, the Holy Father said he was filled with an “interior freedom and peace, and that sense has never left me”. The Holy Father described his own joy in a way that resonated with me. I see this joy in the day-to-day work of the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF). As a community foundation, we partner with individuals and institutions to steward charitable funds in order to impact our community through purposeful and perpetual grantmaking. This uniquely situates us between the generosity of donors and the gratitude of grantees and affords us the privilege of witnessing the joy of giving as well as the joy of receiving. In essence, this in-the-middle position also means that central to our growth is the promotion of joy – the interior freedom and peace that is a byproduct of generosity.
Of course our local Catholic community has an additional cause for joy this Easter season. After nine months of waiting, Pope Francis appointed the Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda to be the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He did so, fittingly, on Holy Thursday, a day that marks the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood; a day that reminds us of our communion and calls us to true leadership – servant leadership. We have a shepherd once again, and one, who even as our apostolic administrator, through humble service, sacrifice, and great interest in our mission, asked how he could help the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) amidst the current challenges facing the Archdiocese. I am delighted and humbled to imagine the ways that CCF can support the faithful vision he holds for his flock. It certainly adds a special joy to this Easter season.
In addition to rejoicing in the appointment of a new archbishop, we also rejoice in our partnerships. Recently, one of our partners, Catholic Charities, has embarked on an exciting campaign to rebuild the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul to expand its capacity for serving the poorest of the poor in our community. Over the years, on behalf of our donors, CCF has granted more than $1 million to Catholic Charities and more than $40,000 to the new Dorothy Day Center. I have the good fortune of serving as a Community Ambassador for the campaign, and attended the groundbreaking ceremony in October. While there, I was overcome by the delighted faces and grateful words of hundreds of supporters, leaders, employees, and clients all coming together to celebrate the joyous miracle that occurs when generosity intersects with need.
Partnering with more than 250 donor advisors leads us to witness this inspiring intersection again and again. In the second quarter alone, our donor advisors directed 620 grants, totaling nearly $2 million to 333 charities. We are happy to tell the story of two such gracious donor advisors in this newsletter, Mark and Heidi Wingerd.
Because of these partnerships, our permanent assets grow, which in turn increases our capacity for impact in the community. We recently developed the Legacy Impact Grant Program, which strives to concentrate grant dollars on the most urgent needs in our community. In October, the Legacy Impact Grant Program distributed $120,000 to six Catholic elementary schools with acute needs, funding solutions ranging from strategic enrollment initiatives to much-needed technological upgrades. Kate Hamill, principal of Guardian Angels Catholic School in Chaska, who purchased new Chromebooks for her staff and students with the grant money, explained, “My staff is now inspired to implement new curriculum and best practices we otherwise couldn’t have in order to provide the highest academic excellence for our students.”
Inspired by the educational solutions we were able to fund, we restructured a similar grantmaking program, to more purposefully meet the social needs of our community. Through this program, we have just granted $85,000 to eight organizations whose missions serve the vulnerable elderly in our community. You can learn more about this program in the article titled “Our Grantmaking is Growing Up.”
As you can tell, CCF in the middle of a lot right now, and all of it is cause for joy. We want to share that joy, especially with those who are not yet familiar with CCF and our mission. So, the last update I’d like to share is that we have spent the last several months carefully redesigning our website to do just that – to promote the joy of philanthropy we are humbled to witness every day. The new website is set to launch in April, and you can read more in this newsletter.
Anne Cullen Miller, MBA