May 23, 2022

Frances M. Sheehan 5th Anniversary Celebration Remarks

It is my great honor to stand before you as we celebrate five years of the Foundation for Delaware County TOGETHER.

These five years have flown by with so many challenges, first helping our community understand the unique opportunity presented by this new foundation, and then we were all blindsided. We quickly moved to step up with all of you to address the horrific challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These last two years showed how important it is to have a county health department, but they also showed the tremendous difference having a community foundation can make when there is a crisis.

We are so grateful to have had you alongside us – sometimes ahead of us – but definitely in partnership with us as Delaware County stepped forward so generously in the face of the pandemic. Our community showed such commitment and spirit and determination. No other county could boast having over 3,000 volunteers helping at their testing and vaccine sites.

It was our county that stepped forward first to invest federal pandemic funds in nonprofits as well as small businesses. And it was our county leadership that turned to the foundation to partner with to get the new health department started.

They understood that partnerships, public and private, business and philanthropy, government and nonprofits, all of us working together were needed to tackle the pandemic’s unprecedented threat to our health and our economy.

It has been our honor to work with all of you in partnership these past five years.

Thanks to every single one of you, you can find evidence of our work in big and small communities throughout the county. In just 5 years, the Foundation has distributed more than $9 million in grants and charitable care. We raised and granted over $1M through the COVID-19 Response Fund. And, we partnered with County Council to help them move $3M of CARES Act funding out the door to the nonprofit community.

We connected more than 2,600 generous individuals – many of you here tonight – with opportunities to impact our local communities. We launched the Center for Nonprofit Excellence to offer professional development and peer support for nonprofit leaders.

And we have served 10,000 deserving residents each year through our community health programs – moms, dads, grandparents, and of course Delaware County’s children.

Most importantly, behind all these numbers are stories of people whose lives have been impacted for the better.

In these five years, we’ve seen how philanthropy can play an immense, vital role in our community. When we began this journey, we knew the creation of The Foundation for Delaware County was an incredible opportunity to create a permanent civic endowment to benefit Delaware County.

We have seen the success of other community foundations across PA and the country. We knew how community foundations could bring together individuals, businesses, and government to address deeply entrenched social problems. We knew we could help our community come together to do good, but in the beginning, we could only dream of how important that work would be – and how quickly that would be apparent.

It has been so gratifying to see Delaware County respond with such enthusiasm to a collective vision of philanthropy, and the returns on your investment have been immense. We’re still in awe of the groundswell of concern and caring for our neighbors that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds and hundreds of individuals and businesses donated more than $1M to help the most vulnerable in our county. Partnerships have developed between charitable individuals, the Foundation, and the nonprofits in our community. For example, Delco Arts Week is a partnership with the arts organizations in the county, the foundation, Visit Delco and now PECO.

Together with donors like Boeing, business investors like WSFS, our state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, and our State Senator Tim Kearney, we’ve been able to capture grants and tax credits to invest in housing insecurity with our new Housing Opportunity Program for Equity. Our HOPE team is keeping families in their homes and advocating for widespread housing reform.

And the incredible public-private partnership between our county council, the Foundation, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Health Partners Plans, and the state helped launch our much-needed new health department.

Thanks to new and more impactful partnerships, we have expanded our long-standing public health programs that have provided critical services to Delaware County for more than 30 years. We have seen the flourishing of the WIC nutrition program, Healthy Start, and the Nurse-Family Partnership because of the investments of so many of you here this evening, and others like the United Way, the Philadelphia Foundation, and TD Foundation.

And thanks to our federal funders who recognize the impact we’re having, we now have a fatherhood program to support new fathers and a doula program to help support moms and babies and reduce longstanding racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality.

Embedded in our work is a belief in a greater good.

And at the heart of our work is a desire to empower nonprofits by providing them with the resources to serve and address community needs.

Just last month, we awarded more than $1.7M to nonprofits in our community addressing some of Delaware County’s most critical issues. So many of you are here tonight and we are so grateful for the critical work you are doing to move Delaware County forward.

I hope you had the opportunity to see some of the amazing efforts of the nonprofit partners who joined us during the cocktail hour to share their work with us. These projects are just a few examples of how nonprofits in our community are collaborating to address some of our most pressing problems – protecting the watershed, revitalizing the riverfront and our small towns, tackling food insecurity, and investing in the arts. At every point along the way, our nonprofit partners have turned challenges into opportunities, meeting these challenges with creative solutions and a dogged determination to succeed.

We’re proud to support these organizations with grants and training through our Center for Nonprofit Excellence, and now with endowment services. We’re here to help Delaware County’s nonprofits build permanent endowments to ensure they have the resources to accomplish their missions – in perpetuity. Thank you to CASA Youth Services, to Senior Community Services, and to Youth Development United for establishing endowment funds with the Foundation this year.

We could not do the work we do without the support of so many of you here this evening.

Our donors and fundholders are charitable individuals who have turned a taxable life event like a sale of appreciated stock or a business, a windfall inheritance, or retirement into an opportunity to do good in our community. We are grateful to you for keeping your investments local. And for our part, we are committed to enthusiastically help you maximize your impact.

Whether you leave a bequest with The Foundation for Delaware County to benefit a charity or a cause you care about deeply, whether you’re considering establishing a Donor-Advised Fund with us, or need assistance managing your private foundation, we have been and remain here to serve in the cause of philanthropy.

We’ve found Delaware County is filled with generous, dedicated people making our community grow and thrive.

And when we look to the future, we know that the opportunities to create change in Delaware County are dependent on each one of us. It is our collective philanthropic efforts that will build this Foundation and help address issues and causes now, and challenges and crises decades from now that we can’t even begin to imagine.

I stand before you because we are at a point of change. Delaware County is having a moment. I am excited about the future. Our cities, towns, and neighborhoods are being transformed in powerful ways because our commitment to good is – and will be – together.

View photos from the celebration.