2019 President’s Letter
The past two years have been a period of intense learning for the McGregor Fund — a period of education brought on by the desire to better serve the least fortunate in our community.
We invested significantly in understanding what works in alleviating poverty and sharing what we have learned with our community and other funders. We were guided by difficult questions: “What does the work that needs to be done require of us? Who must we become to do that work?”
Our questions led us down two distinct paths. On one end, we widened our lens of inspiration, seeking out strategies for alleviating poverty across the country, learning from organizations and cities that have moved the needle on issues commonly believed to be intractable. On the other end, we focused inwards, holding a mirror up to ourselves and our city to clarify our own unique potential to impact the complex dynamics of public funding, private funding and direct service provision.
What has emerged is a clearer focus on economic mobility. We see, in particular, that housing and employment are foundational to making progress against poverty, and are two critically-linked pillars of stability and mobility. Stable housing makes it possible for people to obtain and retain employment, and employment makes it possible for people to obtain and sustain stable housing. Many of the other issue areas we’ve funded flow back to these twin pillars.
Like any person or organization returning home from a journey of searching, our vision for what is possible has changed, and is showing up differently. We’ve brought those same questions back with us to our relationships with grantee partners, colleagues in local government, and other funding organizations motivated by the same goals of ending poverty and increasing opportunity: “What does the work that needs to be done require of you, and how can we help you get there?”
Common strands have emerged by way of answering those questions. As a private foundation, we will look to provide funding that fills in, on a granular level, gaps in the public safety net, providing more person-centered flexibility for our grantee partners’ offerings than public funding allows. We will seek out opportunities to facilitate collaboration among complementary local service providers, with the aim of more fully wrapping around the whole-person needs of those being served. And, we will bolster the capacity for data sharing among organizations, so together we can see our progress against shared goals, as well as opportunities to improve and fill in gaps to system-wide approaches.
As we have looked outside of our city for answers and knowledge about how to address the core issues of poverty and mobility, we have not lost sight of the many passionate and talented people and other resources hard at work here. We have tried to balance national best practices with local knowledge and wisdom to arrive at strategies that have, at their core, a fierce focus on the people we endeavor to help.
The next decade is sure to bring still more challenges in issues surrounding health and well-being, the environment, and equity and opportunity. We have emerged from our period of deep learning with a clear recognition of the fact that positive outcomes on these issues cannot be realized unless and until we recognize the connections between them, and develop our unique role as a foundation to contribute to cross-system solutions. You will be hearing more about our contributions very soon.