“While I have always tried to give back and help others, nine years ago I began to learn how to intensify the impact of my charitable giving. Back then, I was essentially a one-person foundation, trying to figure out how to create a portfolio of grantees that would have a meaningful impact on education. Then I was invited to join the Donors’ Education Collaborative and, later, Early Childhood Partners NYC—two funds established by The Trust to bring donors together to address a critical need, pool their money, and make grant decisions.
Education had always been important in the life of my late father, Joseph—a first-generation college student—and in mine. He created his foundation to help others as he had been helped. We saw how many residents of the city struggled to achieve the American dream—and one of the biggest obstacles was a lack of educational opportunities. While the problems were plain to see, the solutions were hard to pick out.
I was welcomed into these two working groups, which were led by Trust program officers and other veteran grantmakers who thoroughly knew the issues, asked incisive questions, and had access to great research about what works. I just drank that in. It has been a terrific experience. The collaboratives invited proposals from nonprofits, and I learned even more as we considered their applications. We looked at the crux of a group: its vision, the nuts and bolts of the project. We looked at how it was going to solve the mysteries and problems of education.
Today I’m a more selfless grantmaker—it’s not about me and what I like or don’t like: it’s about what the system needs to lift children out of endemic poverty.”
I’m very proud of the work we have done collectively and I am incredibly optimistic about the future of education.
It’s a great time to be involved in education, because there is now the public and political will to do something. People are focusing on relevant issues for schools and teaching. And as education improves, we will be improving the prospects for our children, communities, city, and the country.”
Steve Aresty is president of the Catherine and Joseph Aresty Foundation, one of 94 active donors in The Trust’s funder collaboratives.