We Raise Foundation — formerly known as Wheat Ridge Ministries — in Itasca, Ill., is introducing its new name and new approach to nonprofit philanthropy with a launch event from 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 2 at the Marriott Oak Brook, Oak Brook, Ill.
The event, free and open to the public, will include a panel discussion featuring leaders of organizations working in the areas of poverty, violence and inequality; remarks from We Raise leaders; and “time for mingling” with We Raise donors, friends and honorary co-chairs and past Wheat Ridge Ministries Presidents Dr. Richard Bimler and Dr. Richard Herman. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be offered.
Panel participants include:
- Justin Beene, director and founder of the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Esther Franco-Payne, executive director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago.
- Clifford Nellis, executive director/lead attorney for the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Chicago.
- Arloa Sutter, executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Chicago.
Since 1961, more than 1 million people have been served through We Raise grants awarded to Christian nonprofit organizations nationwide.
“The decision to refine our mission focus to target these issues came after a yearlong review process, and it reflects our strong commitment to address the critical social inequalities still faced by too many Americans today,” said Paul C. Miles, We Raise Foundation president and CEO.
Miles noted that “there are still 43 million people living in poverty in America. We can do better.
“Our goal,” he said, “is to raise consciousness about these problems and provide grants and capacity building to emerging community leaders whose programs offer solutions to these issues.”
As part of that shift, We Raise Foundation is expanding its GrantsPlus awards to offer tools and services to strengthen the capacity of grantees in fundraising, resource development, crowdfunding and access to donor and foundation databases.
Each GrantsPlus recipient will be paired with a staff coach who will provide specialized services to help ensure the sustainability of programs beyond the term of the grant.
With this additional training and support, on average, every dollar invested with We Raise will translate into double its value to recipient organizations, according to Miles.
“We Raise Foundation hopes to be at the forefront of identifying innovative ideas, people and programs that raise consciousness, community leadership and capital to break the cycles of poverty, violence and inequality that have so long plagued our communities,” he said.
“Very few foundations are willing to take a risk as the initial funder. They want a safe bet. But we believe that as we elevate awareness of these emerging leaders and their programs, it will spur others to provide additional support, creating a ripple effect in the community.”
March 2 launch event details and online registration are available on weraise.org.