Albert Einstein had a few great quotes about change:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
These quotes are representative of how our foundation uses change to adapt to the world in which we live, without sacrificing our passion for, and focus on, mission. What follows is a brief sequence of our foundation’s evolutionary history:
Our founder, Jim Thorpe, donated generously during his lifetime to scholarship funds at a number of schools because he felt youth should have opportunities for quality education no matter the income level of their family.
After his death, Jim’s nephew, Frank Thorpe, served as President of the Foundation. He was an engaged and creative thinker who helped expand the foundation’s grantmaking to include arts, education, environment and social services because he saw a need in the community. The board concurred.
Jane Stamstad, our then grants consultant, brought a new depth to the Board’s understanding and participation by bringing ongoing community needs and changes to the board upon which to reflect. With the guidance of Kerrie Blevins, our current foundation manager, the commitment to youth funding was reaffirmed by the board in 2008. During a strategic planning effort, a concern for the needs of the elderly emerged and we adjusted our foundational lens to focus on youth and elderly. More recently, we have explored intergenerational, collaborative opportunities between organizations serving youth and the elderly. This demonstrates our foundation’s passion in giving while showing how we have evolved over 45 years to meet the needs of a community quite different from the one surrounding Jim Thorpe in the 1970s. We believe Jim trusted ensuing generations to carry out his legacy of thoughtful, caring philanthropy.
On to the 2018 business of our foundation. In May 2018, we approved support for 15 youth-focused organizations, and in November 2018, agreed to fund 15 senior-focused organizations. We continue to explore and support, through smaller grants, various programs to help build and sustain intergenerational approaches in the work of select grantees. And we were happy to bring on a new board member, Thomas Thorpe, to add new thinking and expertise to our collective board work.
For 2019, we look forward to continued grantee partnerships and the opportunity for learning more about our community.