Dr. Kelvin Adams: Remarks on the Future of the Foundation
I am honored to serve as President and CEO of the St. Louis Community Foundation. I am excited by the possibilities.
I see a future of increasing collaborative philanthropy to address some of our region’s most complex and persistent problems and expanding the Foundation’s leadership role to deliver a more equitable, connected, and stable community.
In my role as Superintendent of St. Louis City Public Schools, I had regular meetings with nonprofits and partners as they sought to support students in our district. I always had a sense of frustration at what I perceived to be a lack of coordination. Students would sometimes receive the same resources or support from multiple partners. For example, a student would receive two or three pairs of tennis shoes while other needs were not met. What our partners were doing was important, but collaboration was desperately needed.
I approach this role with the belief that relationships built on mutual commitment and complementary purpose result in positive change. Together, we can inspire the change and collaboration that was beyond my purview as Superintendent.
When we collaborate with partners to create change and address shared concerns, we can and will find solutions that meet the needs of everyone involved. I strongly believe that we cannot meet the needs of this region unless we work together to deliver what this evolving community needs and deserves. We must put our individual desires secondary to what the community needs—and, quite frankly, deserves.
In the past weeks, I have spent considerable time in conversation with staff, nonprofits, partners, and local leaders. These conversations, as well as the results of our community listening sessions completed last year, informed a new strategic plan framework.
Over the next five years, the Community Foundation will be propelled into a new era of regional impact by leveraging resources, nurturing relationships, and convening our regional partners. We must transform philanthropy to meet the needs of our evolving community and provide opportunities for real, authentic engagement. The Community Foundation will show up at the table, literally and figuratively, more than ever before.
By growing with purpose, we will identify strategic priority areas and build capacity for collaboration that drives sustained change. The Foundation will expand existing partnerships and incubate new ones, while serving as a home for innovative, community-driven initiatives.
Already, we are working with the The St. Louis Development Corporation on the Economic Development and Transformation Fund, which will transform how philanthropy invests in economic justice within the City of St. Louis. This collaboration represents the most significant public-private partnership in the Foundation’s recent history.
We will work to create a culture of inclusion that deepens our connection to everyone who calls our region home and the nonprofits that work tirelessly to improve it. Tools such as impact investing and collaborative giving models will bring people together to affect change and lower barriers to charitable giving. We will also diversify our donor base by leveraging vehicles such as giving circles, a concept successfully demonstrated by the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund.
The community will be at the center of our work moving forward. Our values of equity, inclusion, and integrity must be grounded in people and place. My promise to you is to continue learning and pushing myself and others as we grow into better, more effective change agents.
I want to thank the staff for their support, as well as the previous President & CEO that stood in this role for 12 years. Amelia Bond did an excellent job in bringing the Foundation from where it was in 2010 to where it is today in 2023. I have a great opportunity here because of the leadership that previously took place.
Going forward, the Foundation will continue to be your charitable giving partner and philanthropic hub. We will continue to provide exceptional service and local expertise with a newly redefined commitment to understanding and serving our region.
I ask that you consider the regional impact of investing in this strategic vision out of the same passion that motivates your generosity to innumerable services, causes, and organizations. I look forward to the next phase of the Foundation’s strategic plan, in which we will ask our donors and community partners to share conversations with us around our newly-defined strategic goals. In these conversations, there may be a request to support these goals at an individual level.
Look around you: the people in this room are your community. We know there are some who could not join us today, and others who will join us in the future. We are all partners in ways we understand, and ways we have yet to discover. Together, we will impact the region, collaborate for change, and transform philanthropy. I invite you to hear yourself in the ‘we’ with the understanding that we can invest in tomorrow as we pursue impact today.
You came here tonight because of me. Thank you for this warm welcome. However, I am here tonight because of WE. Join us as WE work together to build a foundation for the future of St. Louis.
Dr. Kelvin Adams made these remarks during a welcome reception held in his honor at the St. Louis Community Foundation on September 12, 2023.
Pictured at top: Dr. Kelvin Adams, President & CEO and Shelley Seifert, board chair. Photography by Ladue News.