This past Monday, the Jewish Foundation of Greater Dayton hosted the first LIFE & LEGACY™ training program for potential participants, Why Legacy, Why Now? This program is a 4-year partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. The LIFE & LEGACY program promotes after-lifetime giving to benefit Jewish day schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities. I am proud to say that Dayton was recently accepted into the program.
At this first meeting, our LIFE & LEGACY community consultant, Christine Kutnick, talked a bit about Harold Grinspoon and his foundation. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Grinspoon earlier this year, but I was intrigued and curious to know more about this brilliant philanthropist, why he gives to the Jewish community, and his approach to philanthropy. It was no surprise that Christine brought up the influence Warren Buffet had on Harold.
In August 2010, forty of America’s wealthiest individuals and couples joined together in a commitment to give more than half of their wealth away. The Giving Pledge came to life after a series of conversations with philanthropists around the world, and how they could set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy. It was created by Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates. Harold Grinspoon has since signed the pledge, joining over 135 of the world’s wealthiest people and their commitment to philanthropy.
But Harold’s generosity began long before the inception of the Giving Pledge. According to his foundation’s website, “Since 1991, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation has invested more than $200 million in programs that make Jewish life and Jewish community more vibrant and more connected.” You may be familiar with one of his most popular programs, The PJ Library, which provides free high-quality children's books, music, and resources that foster deeper engagement with Jewish life. Dayton has participated in this program since 2006.
The biggest surprise came to me as I was looking around the Harold Grinspoon Foundation website. I came across their Board of Trustees list and was immediately speechless. The first name listed was Alex R. Berger. Alex interned with me about 15 years ago in Tampa. I was so sad when his internship ended. He was set starting his career with a hedge fund.
Alex is such a great person, and I was sad that the Jewish communal world would miss out on his talents. Little did I know that 15 years later he would be a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, a member of the National Council of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and secretary of the Board of Directors of the Israel on Campus Coalition. I guess the Jewish communal world got him after all!
The magical cycle of mentorship became so clear to me. I’ve had incredible mentors. Harold Grinspoon was influenced by Warren Buffet and I hope I had even the smallest (or more) contribution to the career of a promising young Jewish rising star.