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Funding Education - ABAG's Education Affinity Group

Posted By Wendy Samet, Tuesday, March 20, 2012
March 20, 2012
 
By Wendy Samet, Chair, ABAG's Education Affinity Group

The Goldsmith Family Foundation was established in 1991 with a bequest from the estate of Harold Goldsmith, a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, who died tragically in a small airplane crash at the age of 48.

Born and raised in Baltimore City, and a graduate of Baltimore City College, Harold wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children growing up in our city today. He believed that improving the educational and cultural opportunities available to Baltimore youth would have a profound impact on their futures. Although I never knew Harold Goldsmith, he and I share that dream. By a lucky twist of fate, and the considerable matchmaking skills of Jan Rivitz, I have been privileged to direct the foundation he left as a legacy to his family and the students of Baltimore.

When I began at the Foundation, they had no professional staff and I had never worked for a foundation. ABAG and the Education Affinity Group in particular have been my university.
 
The resources helped me understand levers that make good strategic grantmaking. This in turn enabled me to conduct effective strategic planning sessions that changed the Goldsmith Family Foundation's approach to grantmaking and the engagement of the Trustees.

Working alone as a sole staff member of a smaller foundation could be isolating. Instead it has often felt like a team effort because I've been able to network with my colleagues every other week at ABAG. I especially appreciate being able to keep abreast of the latest research in the education field at large and, in particular, successes and challenges of public education in Baltimore.

For the past year I have been privileged to serve as chair of the Education Affinity Group, the first chair to come from a smaller foundation.

Building on our success, I am instituting two new additions to our programming. First, to capitalize on the incredible expertise of our members and promote collaboration, we will be concluding our monthly programs with 15 minutes of private discussion to share perspectives and opinions.

Secondly, based on information from the 2011 Profile of Education Giving Survey Highlights, we will convene several programs focused on decision-making for grantmakers. Topics for these sessions will be those identified as most relevant to ABAG members who participated in the Profile survey.

Through the work of the Goldsmith Family Foundation and ABAG's Education Affinity Group, I am able to put my values to work.

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