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On the Road to Philanthropia

Over the years, many of you have followed us on the exotic trips we’ve been fortunate to take.  In some cases you’ve visited those places yourselves; in others ours was your only trip to that destination.

During the pandemic, Carol and I did not go to the airport for a year and a half, by far the longest stretch of our adult lives. We canceled trips we’d planned to Japan, India, Colombia and England/Scotland. Certainly, we were sorry to have to do this (especially the trip to England/Scotland, which was to have been with two granddaughters). But we’ve had so many fabulous trips over many years that it was hard to be too sad about not taking these.

Carol and I did, however, take another wonderful journey that I’d like to tell you about. It’s not far, and it’s easy to reach, but it’s as fascinating as any place we’ve been. Many of you may have been there already, as well, maybe without having thought much about your journey. I hope that this post will stimulate your sense of adventure.

Around the time of the pandemic’s start, Carol and I, together with a college friend, started a Donor Advised Fund and invited organizations to apply for grants.  We were approaching eighty years of age in a few years and were looking for something new, so we called the fund, Innovation 80.  For symmetry, we decided that we would provide funding totaling $80,000.

Little did we know, but we were on our way to Philanthropia, along a windy road strewn with obstacles and opportunities. This journey has allowed us to meet talented, creative and engaged people of different races, ethnicities, gender preferences and ages who we would never otherwise have met. Experienced philanthropists have guided us by generously taking time to share their expertise.

We sent out RFPs to nine small organizations that friends of ours had founded and/or were actively engaged in, and which we had supported at modest levels over the years.  When the applications for grants came in we noticed that those we were most attracted to were organizations that used the arts to engage and support young people in underserved communities in Chicago, so we adopted that as our focus.  We chose four organizations, granting them each approximately $20,000.

We’ve been privileged to partner with and act as catalysts for organizations encompassing arts as diverse as dancing for disabled people, circus arts, glass blowing, storytelling, young children reading to dogs, an orchestra for steel drums, mosaic murals, literature for ex-prisoners and more. Here are photos from some of the organizations that we’ve supported.

The journey has been engaging and joyous.  Looking back, it almost seems that our lives have been a rehearsal for this journey.  Friendship has always been a key value for Carol and me and over the years we’ve made and stayed in touch with many people around the country and around the world.  Innovation 80 has allowed us to reach out to these friends and afford them an opportunity to come along with us on our journey, much as this blog has done over the years.  Many have chosen to join us.

In only sixteen months, Innovation 80 has grown from supporting four organizations with $80,000 to supporting thirteen with over $250,000. By the end of the year, we hope to partner with twenty organizations and raise more than $400,000.

I hope that you’ll travel with us as generously as you can by supporting Innovation 80. You’ll feel good about contributing, and your support will allow us to expand our efforts and to support many other worthy organizations. We leave now. And you don’t even need to worry about what you’ll pack. Your credit card or check book is your passport.

Bon voyage.

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