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January 28, 2013

NGD – Valuing Starting Younger

Author: and

The Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation honors Frieda C. Fox, an accomplished teacher, artist, and musician who was the first in her family to attend college in the 1920’s. Throughout her life, she inspired a love of learning, self-expression, and compassion within her family and community. Through this Foundation, four generations of her family have been working do the same since 2003.  Two generations of the Fox family met with me to discuss questions related to the Next Gen Donors research findings.  This is a summary of our conversation that I believe is a lovely example of how two generations respect legacy and are positioned to revolutionize philanthropy.

The founder of the foundation, Alan C. Fox, has made it a priority for young members of his family (starting at age 8) to be involved in the Foundation as interested.  In his words, “I want to help young kids in our family and the communities we serve because they are the most susceptible to intervention and it lasts longer.  Kids have amazing energy and ideas that must be tapped into!”  Alan’s motivation for starting the foundation was to maximize his time to have a meaningful impact on youth while giving his family a project to work on together.  The core value he embedded into the foundation is to “help yourself by helping others.”

Alan’s daughter, Ingrid, was 13 when the foundation was formed in 1999.  She was involved from the beginning and had input rights immediately on the grant committee.  When she was 19 she became a board member and helped start the Foundation’s formal Junior Board (for those ages 8-18).  Ingrid is now 27 and still sits on the board even while she has lived aboard.  “The Foundation’s mission—to maximize the potential of youth—resonates with me as it has been engrained in me as a person and is important to my parents and was important to my grandmother, Frieda. I want to contribute to the lives of young people to help them succeed,” shared Ingrid.

According to the Next Gen Donors research, the commitment of Alan and Ingrid to the Foundation’s mission of education and developing the potential of youth is a shared generational priority that bodes well for continued millennial and next generation involvement in the Foundation.  Ingrid’s recognition of her parents’ and grandparent’s commitment to empowering youth is supported by the research that 89% of next gen donors are influenced by their parents and 63% by their grandparents.

Ingrid has stayed involved because the Foundation is important to her AND there has been a place for her.  “As my life has changed, I have appreciated that there hasn’t been a forced obligation to participate,” said Ingrid.  Alan shared, “I am thrilled that those family members that choose to connect with the foundation grow and mature through this work but it’s not for everyone and that’s okay.”  This flexibility in engagement has allowed the foundation to evolve.  The Junior Board now includes two non-family members and the Board of Trustees includes two non-family members.

Through her next generation involvement with the Association of Small Foundations and Resource Generation, Ingrid has connected with other like-minded Millennials interested in social change.  “I love talking to my peers and feel empowered by how we can relate to one another and share ideas.  While my values are shared with my Dad, I have learned that the difference in how we approach philanthropy is our personalities.  I would describe my style as giving.  I trust our staff to do the due diligence for our grantmaking and am supportive of organizations who involve parents in their work with youth as I see that as a root cause for many youth issues.”

Like others in the Next Gen Donors research, Ingrid reported being most engaged when working in-person doing site visits, seeing missions in action, and watching efforts positively evolve over time. 

Ingrid is most engaged when she works with her younger cousins, nieces and nephews.  She sees the next gen getting involved younger and younger and changing the definition of philanthropy—it’s not about geographic boundaries or the money but the desire to make the world a better place.  To support this next gen work of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, they have created and support Youth Philanthropy Connect.  Youth Philanthropy Connect brings together youth philanthropists ages 8-21 and the organizations and resource providers that support them, and provides educational programs and peer networks that advance the field.

In forty years Alan wants his family to care about each other and others– “I couldn’t do anything better than forming the foundation and making an impact through its work.  I love it, love it!”    Ingrid hopes the Foundation continues into future generations and that the mission stays the same yet adapts to the dynamic needs of the world.

Annie Hernandez is the Director of Youth Philanthropy at the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.

The Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation provides grants to support educational programming in Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties with a strategic approach to philanthropy that goes ‘beyond the check’. The foundation has provided some $4 million in grant awards, tens of thousands of hours of pro-bono consulting and project-based technical assistance to grant recipients, and significant contributions to the philanthropic sector including being a leader in engaging youth in grantsmanship and philanthropy.

June 20-22, 2013 3rd Annual Conference at the Disneyland Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, CA



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