What We Do
On the surface, Foundation work may seem to only be about giving money to a nonprofit organization — simple as that. But no! When done well, a foundation’s money giving is only a small part of its activities. To give is not the end game. Well, then why do we exist? TO EFFECT CHANGE!
Who changes? As a Foundation, we do. As a receiving nonprofit organization or partner, they do. The people the nonprofits serve also change. We seek to energize our nonprofit partners to excellence by helping them find positive change resulting in the ability to better the lives of those less fortunate. How is this done? In our changing times the answer to the question is – THINK DIFFERENTLY!
We accomplish our core value to effect change by employing the following key strategies to support our nonprofit partners:
- Conducting site visits of our nonprofit partners to hear and see what they do, meet their people, learn their processes, and provide recommendations on how we may help to advance their mission.
- Providing powerful coaching engagements to assess our partners’ leadership effectiveness and advise on new perspectives to help our partners become a catalyst for the change they desire.
- Attending our nonprofit fundraising events such as luncheons, galas, or evening programs to understand how the nonprofit functions in their community.
- Awarding grants primarily focused on funding video production to help our partners SHOW and TELL their stories of impact that result in increased fundraising donations for their operating budget.
- Introducing nonprofit partners to other partners to allow for networking opportunities in support of common goals.
Though we are a small foundation, we have learned to leverage our giving. For example, we may be asked for a $10,000 donation to the general budget of a nonprofit. During site visits we discuss the option of funding a video that will not only “tell” the story of the organization, but “show” it as well – both at a gala and on their website. In lieu of giving $10,000 to a general budget, such monies may be allocated to funding a video production (if not two!). Our outcome data has shown us that a small video can increase the gala giving by nearly 40% in some organizations. $10,000 may become $50,000, $100,000, or even more!
Though a $5,000 or $10,000 is not a small sum, times exist when even a larger donation would be critical to a project or group. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Walters Family Foundation to grow our capital. The IRS requires foundations to give away at least 5% of the entire portfolio each year. So, we focus on investment strategies, keep our overhead low, and continue to raise capital to grow our ability to help our nonprofit partners.
Our Areas of Focus
The Walters Family Foundation enables positive life changes for at-risk youth, families and the elderly by focusing primarily in the areas of Families In Crisis, Education, Mental Health and Prevention Programs. See how we engage with our partners utilizing our key strategies to effect change in these areas:
FAMILIES IN CRISIS
Violence in the home is not spoken about publicly or often. But it exists! Where can a spouse or child go for help? We are thankful for the work of the Raphael House in east Portland or the Clackamas Women’s Services in Oregon City or the Bradley Angle House in north Portland who provide a shelter, food, clothing, as well as legal counseling and court help as needed.
Some facilities have a closed-circuit TV connection to the court where the judge can give the legal protection that is required without having the victims to go to the actual courtroom. The focus is not only on the spouses, but the children are provided loving care as well.
A camaraderie exists between these organizations in different cities. They share best practices and emotionally support each other. Even though the work is hard at times, those who engage in such help are passionate about the service they give. They are proud to see a new life emerge as a result of their doors being opened.
The Walters Family Foundation has been welcomed by these nonprofit partners to conduct site visits to see their offices and their secluded safe houses. We were given tours and held frank discussions about the care that is given. The mission of helping at-risk youth and often moms is fulfilled through such great organizations.
The Walters Family Foundation understands how reading is important to young children, especially in ages two through six. We are proud to partner with SMART, which attracts hundreds of volunteers in Oregon to read to young kids. Early reading to children has repeatedly shown to be helpful in better school performance.
The Walters Family Foundation has conducted frequent site visits and have learned a lot about the SMART program. During our site visit we have had mutual discussions with their leadership on how they can do things even better. The Walters Family Foundation has also funded several videos, recently an organizational video and an Appeal video that has contributed to an increase in their fundraising revenue. The Foundation and SMART have a great relationship of learning together to better the education of our children.
We also partner with Financial Beginnings who educates youth and adults on how to manage money, including investments, budgeting, and saving. One wouldn’t think this would be important at a young age, but this early work in financial education has changed how young people understand and manage the funds they earn.
Phil Waller, a CPA who is a board member of the Walters Family Foundation, felt strongly that this education has significant merit. What the Walters Family Foundation found upon visiting Financial Beginnings is significant enthusiasm and optimism about teaching their coursework in many schools in Oregon. Even some corporations are approaching them to teach their employees some financial basics! Thanks to our Board, we have found yet another avenue to advance the education with our youth.
Cornelius Public Library
The Cornelius Public Library has been completely rebuilt over the last 2 years with a massive fundraising effort lead by Karen Hill, the head librarian. This key group provides check-out laptop computers for young kids. In house desktop computers are available for all to use. Of course, many books are available. Multiple community programs including reading to young people in various languages are available.
The Walters Family Foundation has had the pleasure of many site visits watching the development and construction progress of the Library. Opening day was a huge day for Cornelius. Many regional individuals attended this event including the Mayor of Cornelius who officiated at the ribbon cutting. The Police and Fire Departments were represented. Food was available for the general public at no charge. Cornelius can be proud of their new library and the many people including at-risk kids who will find this an awesome place of learning. The Walters Family Foundation was proud to sponsor the Walters Gallery Wall and the Walters Community Room that will serve meetings for up to 100 people at a time.
Center for Community Counseling
Suicide, homelessness, depression, and various mental health issues are confronted through many nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Community Counseling in Eugene, Oregon, founded by Dr. Jan Moursund in 1978. Their volunteer counselors provide family and individual therapy to those with need, but have no insurance or funds — all at no charge to those needing help.
The Walters Family Foundation is proud to partner with the Center for Community Counseling and has conducted visits to provide support and guidance. Melissa Thomas, LPC, the Executive Director, is taking the organization in a new direction as she contemplates new innovations in fundraising. During our visits, we have met several of the board members along with the leadership. We are proud to support the Center as they serve an incredibly important mental health need in Eugene.
Learning more about the mental health work that LifeWorks NW is doing has been a high priority of the Walters Family Foundation. A site review conducted for the first time in 2019 has shown they have a wide area of help including 15 centers to help those in need with mental health issues. We met their top leadership in development to hear more about their organization and how they function. We were pleased to learn that they promote a healthy community by providing quality and culturally responsive mental health and addiction services across the lifespan. In 2017 they helped 22,609 people! The need is huge. One in five Oregonians face mental health and addictions issues every year. The Walters Family Foundation plans additional visits to see how we may work together especially for those kids who are at-risk.
Impact NW is a safety net organization whose mission is to help people prosper through a community of support. The Walters Family Foundation has supported this non-profit because it has a wide scope, but does focus on at-risk youth. They provide school and community-based education, pre-employment, and life skill support to youth ages 5-21. They provide a housing safety net. They assist seniors and adults with disabilities to thrive in their own homes. They promote the nurturing, development and school-readiness of children from birth through age 5.
The Walters Family Foundation remains interested in this organization as Andy Nelson, the new Executive Director, is interested in taking on the task of the homeless in Portland. Dealing with the homeless will also require a focus on the mental health issues. The Walters Family Foundation is in discussions with Andy on how we can become active partners to help these at-risk people many of whom are young people who are in grave danger on the streets.
The Dougy Center
The Dougy Center fulfills a unique need that is often diminished and that is grief work. When a child loses a loved one such as a parent or sibling, the psychological impact can be devastating, which often goes unrecognized. This Center provides counseling and lots of listening. It is replete with special rooms for play acting, physical exercise, a paint throwing room to deal with anger and aggression, and other specialized rooms. One of the most interesting is a reconstructed hospital room for children to recreate the loss, feel the pain, and learn to grow through it with the help of well-trained counselors.
The Walters Family Foundation sees these kids at-risk if the grief is not properly addressed, so we are proud to sponsor the video of the Dougy Center to help tell their story that will enhance their fundraising capacity. We are also proud that the Dougy Center has become a national resource and consultant to other programs.
Sparrow Club – Queen award 2019 RECIPIENT
In September 2019 the board of the Walters Family Foundation approved the creation of a new award to be given to an organization or individual engaged in nonprofit work who exemplifies Excellence the Art of Change. While it is easy to describe what a nonprofit organization does, it is more complex to outline what they really “sell” or what the end game is. During such visits the product that the reviewers seek is really embodied in two words, Positive Change.
Recently, Board Member Tamberly Couch and President Cliff Walters visited the Sparrow Clubs USA – Portland at the home of Laura Queen, Portland Director. While listening to Ms. Queen, her vibrant and enthusiastic passion for the program became palpable.
What Walters and Couch learned was that this program really isn’t about the Sparrow or fundraising. The real secret is the impact on injecting love, compassion, and care into the student resulting in an overall change in student body’s culture. The positive changes that occur prevent students from making wrong life decisions, because they’ve learned how to ‘choose kind’ and focus on positive aspects in their lives.
Many schools in various Oregon cities were asking for locations where teenage girls can receive support before getting in trouble. Preventive programs such as Ophelia’s Place in Eugene and Junction City, and other locations were created where girls can drop in for crafts, counseling, help if kicked out of their homes and referrals to other resources as needed.
This is a loving, safe place for them to come. They have a quiet room, where the girls can rest, read, or just think. Counselors are always available for therapy dealing with whatever issue is present. The girls learn that they have power, are in control of their own lives, and are stimulated in their educational pursuit.
The Walters Family Foundation has a deep relationship with this organization as it is helping girls to see the big picture of life before they get into trouble.
Adventures without Limits
Adventures Without Limits takes disabled kids on year-round trips to the great outdoors of Oregon including kayaking, camping, and skiing among many opportunities. This organization operates on a shoestring budget, and it is amazing how much work they can accomplish.
The Walters Family Foundation has partnered with them not only because they help disabled kids enjoy Oregon’s great outdoors, but they network with several other organizations who don’t have the capacity for outdoor events. We are proud to sponsor their first video to help tell their story that will be used in their fundraising events. At our last visit Jennifer Wilde was kind enough to show us their work in progress on their video, plus give our board member, Tamberly Couch a visit to the warehouse where all the gear is stored that is used in the trips for the kids.
HomePlate Youth Services in Beaverton and Hillsboro seeks out those young people who have just “hit” the street. Their staff seeks these at-risk kids and brings them to HomePlates’ closest location where they can get them the help needed including the basics of food, shelter, and clothing.
Being well-connected to many resources, HomePlate can get these at-risk kids to the locations that can best serve them. Who are these at-risk kids? Some are kicked out of their own homes because they got pregnant, came “out of the closet,” were truant, or had other family challenges. The Walters Family Foundation supports HomePlate, as it represents a solid prevention program for the youth found on the streets.