This “Year in Review” captures an important inflection point in the history of the Bainum Family Foundation. My parents, Stewart Sr. and Jane Bainum, established the foundation in 1968, seeking to break the cycle of poverty through educational support for children. Our family, together with the foundation board and staff, is excited to share how we are evolving our strategy and approach.
Our new strategy builds on our past and reflects the learnings we’ve gained through decades of work with partner organizations and communities. We know now that better outcomes result when we intervene earlier in a child’s life and consider the multiple factors that impact a child’s ability to thrive. Through our core value of Continuous Learning, we continue to honor our organizational origins while adapting how we engage in order to meet evolving community needs and achieve greater impact.
As part of this shift, the foundation is being more intentional about centering racial equity and naming structural racism as the root cause of barriers to child and family well-being. Our commitment echoes decisions the foundation has made over the years that provided support to Black and brown children and families.
Bainum family members who serve in governing roles for the foundation participated in an equity-focused learning series this past year. Our goals were to align the family with the board’s and staff’s own learning journeys and to equip us to make organizational decisions that advance equity. We had deep conversations reflecting on the history of philanthropy, both in the United States and at the foundation. We unpacked some of the experiences we’ve had as a white family of wealth, we discussed the legacy of our founders, and we pushed each other to think about how these learnings impact our contributions to the work we are doing at the foundation. As part of this, family members took the lead in developing the foundation’s new vision and mission statements, which you will read about later in this report.
Our journey to this new strategy has provided other valuable insights that are especially relevant to funders. As Chair of the Board and a member of the Bainum family, I am acutely aware that we must be sensitive to long-standing power dynamics in philanthropy. Members of our partner communities are the real experts because of their lived experiences and their deep understanding of community strengths and challenges. While funders do bring financial and other resources, we believe real change and impact happens when we listen to our partner communities; build transparent, trust-based relationships; and follow their lead as we develop and implement solutions together.
We therefore commit as an organization to partnerships and strategies that are not just community-informed but community-led. What does this look like in action? As an organization, we have historically asked ourselves, “What more can we do?” We will continue to ask ourselves this question; but more important, we will more deliberately and consistently ask our partner communities the same question. We commit to not just asking but also responding nimbly and humbly, centering the community’s needs and insights in our decisions and actions.
Finally, we have come to appreciate that once we have clearly defined our vision, mission and strategy, we need to stay the course for a significant amount of time. Coming alongside a community to build on its strengths and help it become better off is not a yearlong undertaking. As a board, we have committed to adopting a long-term mindset to create systemic and sustainable change.
Our “2021–2022 Year in Review” explains the elements of our new strategic approach, the thinking behind it and the ways we are already living it. We appreciate your continued interest in our journey to date, and we welcome your engagement as we enter the next chapter with renewed commitment to this important work.
Barbara Bainum, LCSW-C
Chair of the Board