January 2021 Newsletter
Letter From the SOS President
Dear SOS Members and Friends,
Happy New Year!
Farewell to 2020, but not without a moment of reflection……
Last year at this time, the SOS Board kicked off their three-year strategic planning process; full proposals were being prepared by our prospective grantees; site visit teams were being assembled; a delegation of members were planning their trip to the Philanos PowerUP Conference in Seattle; the Education and Membership committees were ironing out details for our 2020 events. We had no idea how our daily lives would completely change within the coming weeks.
We quickly became accustomed to a new virtual environment to conduct meetings, host site visits, and come together for events including our first-ever “virtual” Spirit Awards. Most importantly, we collectively granted $213,333 to ten small, but mighty nonprofits including a $100,000 multi-year grant, thanks to the generosity of both our members’ funds and volunteer service.
The challenges SOS faced during 2020 did not stop with adjusting to working from home or helping to support our grantees, their clients, and communities during the pandemic. As COVID-19 infections spread across the country, the virus also revealed the disparities between races that exist today as communities of color were hit the hardest. The additional tension created by police violence in the summer of 2020 put into stark relief the underbelly of systemically racist instructions that persist in our society.
In lieu of these events, our SOS leaders and members recognized the need to address the systemic racism that exists within the philanthropic community and made a commitment to recognizing the role we play. SOS quickly rose to the challenge to ensure another successful granting season.
Today, the Board is in the final drafting process of the implementation portion of the strategic plan. Prior to finalizing the strategic plan, the Board will participate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training, which will be led by Nicole Hudson, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academy for Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University, in early February. This training is integral to the planning process, as it will better inform us on how we move forward to use a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens in every decision we make as an organization.
CHEERS TO 2021!
Looking forward to a new year, we will still face challenges but not without HOPE. As an organization, we have much to look forward to in 2021 with the implementation of our new strategic plan.
Since SOS’ founding 15 years ago, we find the organization at a tipping point. The strategic planning process allowed us to reflect and assess current practices in relationship to the mission and purpose of SOS. It provided the opportunity to evaluate membership experience, grantmaking relevance, and governance practices. It was a time to determine the role of SOS as it relates to and supports the community we serve, identifying and solidifying our stance on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was also a time to affirm the progress and success of our model and to identify questions that are paramount to the evolution of SOS.
We learned a lot about the organization, our members, and our grantees through the strategic planning process. Our member surveys reaffirmed the importance of improving internal communication and we will be working on our membership communication process. We learned from our members and grantees the importance of communicating and educating our members on general operating support. It was heartwarming to hear from a couple of the grantees that their first SOS grant opened up doors to other granting opportunities and additional funding.
I’m looking forward to sharing the final strategic plan with you once it is approved at the March Board meeting. I’m hopeful about the bright future of our wonderful organization and grateful to be among the smart, dedicated, and empowered women of SOS.
Wishing you a new year of hopefulness, health, and happiness.
SOS President and Proud Member
THANK YOU SOS VOLUNTEERS!
61 SOS members have signed up to participate in full grant proposal reviews and site visits. They will evaluate 40 community nonprofits in the 2021 granting cycle.
Thanks to all for participating in the heart our mission.
2021 General Site Visit & Grant Schedule:
- February – March: Site visit teams meet to evaluate grant proposals, virtual
- April 6: Site Visit Team Leader Meeting to determine final ballot (3:30-5:30 pm)
Welcome New Members
There are lots of questions and concerns around the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine. This presentation created by the RRT Making Sense of the COVID-19 Vaccine shares some useful information.
Save the Date/Upcoming Events
Book Discussion, I’m Still Here, Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness
5:30 PM FEBRUARY 3
by Austin Channing Brown
Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7 when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man.
From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America and how white America’s love affair with diversity so often falls short of its ideals.
Register by following this link:
Sisters of the Heart
February 11th, 2021 5:30-6:30pm
Members and guests will hear from Jaqueline Cruz from Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project (MICA), a five-time recipient of SOS grants. Jaqueline will illuminate the critical necessity of having legal representation for children in immigration court. She will share information about current cases and offer recent success stories.
The Children’s Immigration Advocacy Project (CIAP) began in August 2018 following the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the southern border. CIAP provides immigrant children with holistic representation, providing justice and equality to immigrant youth through both legal and social resources.
TO ATTEND PLEASE REGISTER HERE
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Collective was awarded a prestigious $500,000 Lewis Prize for Music 2021 Accelerator Award for Youth Music Programs!
“I am very grateful to the Lewis Prize for Music for acknowledging and supporting Saint Louis Story Stitchers. We are honored to bring this award home to St. Louis to support our creative youth development program in music!! So much more is coming and we will need everyone’s help. Our youth are driving us towards a larger center for arts and technology to help support their peers in healthy development of skills and life style. The center will help the next generation to build a healthier and more peaceful region through the arts. We will use the $500,000 grant from the Lewis Prize for Music to build toward the establishment of a youth music and technology center by growing our administrative and fundraising capacity. If you want to be a part of the solution, please reach out!”
Susan Colangelo, President and Executive Director, Saint Louis Story Stitchers, www.storystitchers.org