Recently, I connected with the producer of an upcoming documentary on the life of Julius Rosenwald, a philanthropist from the early 1900’s that funded over 5K schools impacting 650,000 black students in the Southern states of US. It was very intriguing to learn about this German-Jewish immigrant, willing to invest in social challenges at odds with mainstream America at the time. What resonated most with me beyond his risk taking was his approach to philanthropy. He specifically set out to aid others willing to also invest in themselves.
Only dollars raised by the recipients were matched by Mr. Rosenwald. We discovered through family research that my great grandfather raised funds and provided labor for the construction of a Rosenwald school in his community. This sparked an active discussion in my family on the value of sustaining grants and the need to shy away from "fixing the challenges of others." Rather, a more effective approach is to actively involve those being impacted as a part of the solution. Mr. Rosenwald saw this as an imperative to sustainability, long lasting change, and self-empowerment. He created a system where collective impact could be reached via collaboration with multiple partners.
Just today, while attending an Intel Learn graduation in Cairo, Egypt, this concept continues to be alive and well. Intel Learn is a youth entrepreneurship training program with the purpose of involving teens in project- based learning focused on solving community challenges. One young man highlighted in his final presentation, “What I learned above and beyond teamwork is that to achieve a change in my community, I must be a part of the solution and not the problem.” His team chose a project that would result in a renovation of a dilapidated public building into a small community medical clinic that would provide basic medical care. In doing so, he explained that the crime associated with the run down building would decrease while increasing the community spirit and safety. The students provided the research on the problems and were able to share recommendations and gain the support directly from neighboring donors surrounding the facility. Like Mr. Rosenwald’s approach to philanthropy, we each have a key role to play in tackling community issues. Tackling this as a donor alone will not yield the most optimal results. Ensuring the change is owned by recipients increases the probability of success and empowers the potential for ongoing transformation.
Barbara McAllister is responsible for developing and driving grant initiatives for the Intel Foundation to ensure maximum impact, transparency, sustainability, and clear accountability. Barbara’s portfolio includes girls, women, STEM and the underserved. She has worked in various disciplines and leadership roles inside Intel for the past 16 years including facility start-ups and ramping of Intel’s Costa Rica operations, and leading the company’s Corporate Services Facility Due Diligence Team for acquisitions in Russia, Mexico, and other strategic locations.