My Spruce Grantmaking Story

When I first moved to Philadelphia five years ago, I was looking for a meaningful way to volunteer. A co-worker recommended The Spruce Foundation based on my experience in fundraising and interest in youth-related causes. Now I’m finishing my fourth year on the Spruce Foundation Grantmaking Committee, this year as the Committee Chair. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to play an instrumental role in philanthropy led by young professionals.

 

 

Based on this experience, I wanted to share a little sneak peak into Spruce’s Grantmaking process:

  • First, Spruce board members recruit and train a committee of 20-25 young professionals who will conduct the grant review and make recommendations to the full board.
  • At the same time, Spruce opens up an online portal for two months where eligible non-profit organizations can submit applications for youth-serving programs in Philadelphia within the following program areas: Career & Technical Education, Health & Wellness, Arts, and LGBTQ. We offer at least two information sessions for non-profit organizations to learn more about our process and ask questions.
  • Now, it is time to review submitted applications! First, we go through all applications to ensure each submission meets basic eligibility requirements, such as an organization budget maximum of $800,000 and a local Philadelphia address. Then, we assign two committee members to review each application using a streamlined rubric that evaluates important criteria, such as innovation, community impact, and sustainability.
  • Each program area subcommittee meets to discuss reviewed applications and selects the top 5 applications to share with the full Grantmaking Committee. At the full Grantmaking Committee meeting, subcommittees present these applications and we conduct a blind vote to rank the top two applications in each program area.
  • The top two applications by program area are then presented at the next full Spruce Foundation Board meeting. At the meeting, board members vote for the recipient in each program area. The organization with the most votes is awarded the grant.

Curious which organizations will receive the 2018-2019 cycle grants? Join us on Tuesday, April 2nd for a public grants announcement at U-Bahn. RSVP to join us here.

 

 

 

Spruce believes that our generation has so much to give to the causes we care about, so we put out the call for area nonprofits to advertise their opportunities to get involved in our newsletter.

Please read on for this quarter’s opportunities! (Disclaimer: Please note that as an all-volunteer organization, Spruce is not able to vet these organizations or opportunities and encourages you to do your own research.)

 

Education

Philly Reading Coaches: Seeking volunteers to work with young students and offer early reading support and access to books. By volunteering, you help kids gain confidence in their reading skills and grow their love for books.

 

Health and Wellness 

Vetri Community Partnership: Vetri conducts after-school classes and educational programs that teach young kids how to live healthy lives. They offer hands-on learning opportunities that allow volunteers to assist with healthy eating and nutrition engagement.

 

Arts

One Musical Philadelphia: Support 5th graders as they participate in One Musical Philadelphia on Wed Feb 20th. One Musical Philadelphia allows students to explore musical theater with a focus on community and teamwork. This is a chance for young students in Philadelphia to learn songs and dances and perform at the Kimmel Center for all of their friends and family. The Kimmel Center needs your help to guide students throughout the center on the day of the performance. See here for more details.

Since joining the Spruce board 18 months ago, I’ve learned a lot about giving – not just my own giving, but giving in general. I took a few moments to reflect on the top lessons I have learned from being involved and engaged with the Spruce Foundation as a young Philadelphia professional and board member.

 

 

1. Philanthropy doesn’t have to mean donating large amounts of money.

When you think about philanthropy, big donors and fancy dinners probably come to mind. Before I joined Spruce, being successful enough to give back felt like a distant goal. As a 20-something living in the city, the idea of making huge donations to anything other than my student loans was laughable. Learning about and joining the board of the Spruce Foundation enabled me to see that I could make a legitimate difference in a non-profit’s organization by donating $25 here and there. It does add up.

 

2. Giving financially allows non-profits to have greater freedom over their resources

Non-profits know what they are doing. They know how to run their own budget, how to manage their time, volunteers, and strategic plans. Volunteering is very helpful for non-profits. But there is nothing more empowering to a non-profit that receiving a grant or a donation – it gives them the power to operate more freely, to evolve as an organization, and to thrive. They’re able to plan more efficiently, which enables them to do more good.

 

3. Young people are enthusiastic about giving

I was hesitant about asking for donations when I first joined the Spruce board, worried that my friends and peers may not be willing or interested in giving. At Spruce, we promote making donations not only to Spruce, but to any organization you may feel passionate about. I was convinced that my peers might not see how valuable philanthropy, especially young philanthropy, is to our world, our city, and our generation. But through Spruce, I learned that young people actually are very eager to give. Many young people have hesitations about the amount they are able to give. Teaching friends and peers how important it is to give something personally meaningful is the real lesson.

 

4. Philanthropy just feels good

Joining the board of the Spruce Foundation enabled me to see that I could make a legitimate difference in a non-profit’s organization by donating the amount of a latte or a bowl of  Ramen. It’s worth giving up those things to give back. It feels good to make sacrifices now and then in the name of doing good. When you turn that good feeling into a habit, it quickly becomes a passion.

 

 

12 Plus believes in empowering students to reach their full potential and continue their education past 12th grade. What began in 2010 as a pilot program at Kensington school, quickly grew into a multi-school initiative. Their first program only had 9 students. Now, 12 Plus works with 1500 students annually at partner schools throughout the Philadelphia school district.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ernest Tam, Impact Director at 12 Plus who’s passion and commitment to the students is inspiring. Ernest began volunteering with 12 Plus as a University student and transitioned into a full time role after graduation. He discovered that it’s not enough just to work with individual students and now works with students in all grades.

According to Ernest, the 12 Plus aims to help, “every student, every year, every step of the way.” With a 95% post-secondary acceptance rate, 12 Plus is doing just that. “Our staff works hard to advise and make the best decisions possible for our students.”

At Philadelphia schools, 12 Plus’s centers have become a hub for student life. Throughout the day students can drop by for additional support by staff members and site directors. Freshman year workshops advise students on how to succeed in high school. Students learn how to select class credits and the importance of a GPA. By senior year, students are prepared to take workshops that teach them how to submit college applications and apply for scholarships.

12 Plus students during College Week
12 Plus students during College Week

12 Plus is a multi-faceted program that aims to help students throughout every step of their high school journey and beyond. Once students graduate, they continue to receive support and guidance from 12 Plus stuff members dedicated to their success. “Hearing from alumni that they’re succeeding is very rewarding,” said Ernest.

12 Plus plans to expand into a new school this upcoming year and will continue with their mission to inspire students throughout Philadelphia.

Spruce believes that our generation has so much to give to the causes we care about, so we put out the call for area nonprofits to advertise their opportunities to get involved in our newsletter.

Please read on for this month’s opportunities! (Disclaimer: Please note that as an all-volunteer organization, Spruce is not able to vet these organizations or opportunities and encourages you to do your own research.)

Project 440

About the opportunity: Project 440 has a need for:

  • A volunteer to manage marketing/promotion of our annual college fair, which will take place in November 2018.
  • A volunteer to support on managing our social media presence and blog.
  • An ongoing need for people with applicable expertise who are interested in joining our marketing, finance and development committees.

For more information: Please contact Samantha Apgar, Managing Director at sapgar@project440.org

Street Soccer USA

About this opportunity: We are looking for volunteers who are passionate about working with young people, being mentors and giving back to the city of Philadelphia. You don’t need to be a soccer expert, but you need to be passionate about making a difference and enjoy working with young people.

For more information: Please contact King Saah at king@streetsoccerusa.org

Tree House Books

About the opportunity: Tree House Books has the following volunteer needs:

  • Volunteer Librarian: Join our volunteer-staffed Giving Library by organizing and inventorying our growing library as well as selecting and packaging book donations to go out into the community. Volunteers should be ready and enthusiastic to regularly interact with the people of our community, help them find certain books, suggests books, and engage in conversation. You will also track, organize, and display our Free Sidewalk Books Cart and Table, and keep record of books and community members. Our Volunteer Librarians are a crucial part of our operation and the face of our Giving Library to those who are coming in for a book or dropping off a donation. We are open six days a week, Monday-Friday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, flexible volunteer schedules are available.
  • Literacy Coach: Become a mentor and guide at Tree House Books’ Literacy Studio by connecting students to the world of books, texts and words, ages 7-12. At the Literacy Studio, we focus on language acquisition, recreational reading, critical thinking and creative writing, through 12-week cycles on selected themes. Most importantly, Literacy Coaches make books fun and relevant to the most reluctant readers and encourage esteem and self-regard through writing. You will prepare materials and set up projects before students arrive, assist with Literacy Studio Activities and Literacy Workshops, and maintain and organize student data portfolios. Monday-Thursday, 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Applicants welcome for any days, programming begins again in September 2018.
  • Marketing Volunteer: Assist in implementing marketing strategies of Tree House Books, by providing materials, technology support, logistics coordination, and social media expertise. Write for various projects, including the creation of press releases, newsletters, brochures, letters, and flyers. Research, create content, and present new ideas to enhance the Tree House Books web presence. Proofread all marketing materials, upon request. Maintain organized electronic files of all marketing information. The average amount of time expected in this position is 10-15+ hours a week. We are open six days a week, Monday-Friday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, flexible volunteer schedules are available.
  • Data Entry Volunteer. Assist in the collection and organization of Tree House Books’ growing contact information for volunteers, donors, employees, and community members. Compile into Little Green Light database. The average amount of time expected in this position is 10-15+ hours a week. We are open six days a week, Monday-Friday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, flexible volunteer schedules are available.

For more information: Please contact Trixie Steiner-Rose at volunteer@treehousebooks.org

West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC)

About the opportunity: The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children is now seeking volunteers to help with cataloging books to prepare for the opening of our newest school library…Harrington Elementary school! Also, WePAC is seeking new volunteers to be apart of our Library teams in our school libraries for 2018-2019!

Volunteering in a WePAC library means being part of a team of caring people, passionate about sharing the love of reading with the children of Philadelphia.

Who can volunteer:

  • Anyone who desires to make a difference in a child’s life and education by engaging them with books and reading
  • West Philadelphia residents who want to foster a love for reading in their community
  • Local college students who need to gain experience working with children and/or potential mentors in fellow volunteers.

What the children can gain from you:

  • The comfort of being read to.
  • Confidence in their reading and academic ability
  • The knowledge that their community cares about them and a LOVE of READING!

No library experience required.

School libraries make a difference. WePAC volunteers change stories.

For more information: Please contact Carrie Sampson [Library & Literacy Program Manager] at carrie@wepac.org

Spruce believes that our generation has so much to give to the causes we care about, so we put out the call for area nonprofits to advertise their opportunities to get involved in our newsletter.

Please read on for this month’s opportunities! (Disclaimer: Please note that as an all-volunteer organization, Spruce is not able to vet these organizations or opportunities and encourages you to do your own research.)

Georgia E Gregory Interdenominational School of Music

About the opportunity: The Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music is seeking a volunteer to help with their website and with marketing their events and programs.

For more information: Please contact Joyce Drayton at gegisom@aol.com

Kitchen Cred

About the Opportunity: Kitchen Cred is looking for a volunteer project leader for a unique, food-oriented fundraiser(s); a board member; and a social media master.

For More Information: Please contact Doug Barg, President, at doug@kitchencred.org.

Mangum Foundation

About the Opportunity: The Mangum Foundation has a variety of upcoming opportunities, including with its youth program and soccer program!

For More Information: Please contact Tariq Mangum at mangumfoundation@gmail.com.

Rock to the Future

About the Opportunity: Rock to the Future has a variety of upcoming opportunities with its Engagement committee, Programming committee, and Summer Camp! You can sign up here!

For More Information: Please contact Alison Cornell at alison@rocktothefuture.org.

Wolf Performing Arts Center

About the Opportunity: Wolf PAC is a nonprofit children’s theater that specializes in quality mainstage performances for students in 1st – 12th grade. We also provide classes, private lessons, and summer camp. We are always looking for quality volunteers to help with our programs year-round and performance specific. We have ongoing opportunities in the following areas: sound design, lighting design, stage managing, props / set design, costume assistance, hair and makeup, and assistant teaching artists.

For More Information: Please contact Jessica Nicolao at Jess@wolfperformingartscenter.org.

 

1. How did you get started with music? What drew you to it?

John: When you come from a town like Scranton, Pennsylvania, family is everything. Christmas is everything. I loved Christmas songs and fell in love with the piano listening to jazz records and hearing my aunt play songs on the piano around the holidays. My mom and dad bought me a keyboard when I was 7 years old and I’ve been in love with music ever since. I am humbled and honored to call myself a professional musician more than 20 years later. I’ve made Philadelphia my home. I have made incredible friends, played with immensely talented people and have made some of the deepest and purest connections of my life over the past 5 years.

Rob: I first saw Liberty Devitto play drums for Billy Joel on a concert DVD and I was hooked. That dude could play!

2. Permission to humblebrag: Tell us how you’ve been killing it.

Rob: I’ve been doing well. My band Hambone Relay and I have been touring the east coast almost every weekend for the past year and a half, put out 2 records (working on the 3rd), and we’re playing 7 or 8 music festivals this summer to be announced on our Facebook page (keep your eyes peeled).

As a sideman, I’ve been playing drums with many artists in the area including the amazing John Gilbride, Lauren Marsh, Tye James, Emily Drinker, the Funky T, Seth Aaron Jones, and Christy Irizarry. I like helping these artists push their dreams/songs to the next level.

As for me individually, I came out with my own record in 2016, I’m currently writing for another, developing a music festival, and  developing an idea for a podcast…hopefully announced soon!

There’s a lot happening!

John: In 2013, I quit the job I had after graduating college, a “corporate gig”. I told myself that very day that I wouldn’t live my life on someone else’s terms. Music meant too much to me. From there, all roads led to music. I served tables to keep a roof above my head, started writing, and hit the open mic scene really hard for more than a year. Slowly but surely I started to attract attention from audiences and venue owners. Over the course of the past 4 years, I’ve played all over the city of Philadelphia and elsewhere; from bars, clubs and major music venues, to backyards, beaches and beyond. Venues include The TLA, World Cafe Live, Bourbon & Branch, The Tin Angel, and more. I support myself fully from playing music at bars, clubs, and other venues here in Philadelphia. What I am most passionate about is creating music. I am currently in the middle of writing and recording my debut record, set to be released in June!

3. How do you give back? What causes/organizations are important to you?

John: Cancer research is close to my heart. My mother passed away almost 8 years ago from cancer and my father battled the disease this past year. I’m passionate about lifting up and supporting universities, research centers, countries and individuals on the forefront of new medications, therapies and alternative remedies. I think it is tremendously important to educate and support young people about these diseases in a responsible way. More generally, it’s important to support kids who lose loved ones at such an early age. The Moyer Foundation, specifically Camp Erin, is an organization making big strides in this area. I’ve supported them for quite some time. Cancer or losing someone to cancer is a club no one wants to be a part of. But once you are, it’s crucial to surround yourself with and seek advice from others who have been through it.

Rob: My festival “The Taitertot Music Fest” takes donations to give to the charity Musicopia, a nonprofit looking to help get musical instruments into the hands of kids who can’t afford them. They are wonderful, I highly recommend you check them out!

4. Why did you choose to volunteer your talent for the Spruce Gala? What part of Spruce’s mission spoke to you?

John: I’ve always believed that music is first and foremost, an amazing form of therapy, and an art form enjoyed and beloved by everyone– whether or not you play an instrument or can carry a tune. So, any time I am afforded the opportunity to use my music to help an individual, a charity, or any good cause, I always do what I can to accommodate and never take the opportunity for granted. The Spruce Foundation is one amazing example of an organization I’m happy to help because they work to enrich the lives of the youth in this great city. I am happy and honored to be a small part of the Spruce Foundation’s annual Gala.

Rob: I support non-profits and I’ll help out in any way I can. I’m honored to be apart of such an event.

5. Why do you think it’s important for our generation to give back?

Rob: Its important for our generation to give back because we’re responsible for doing so. We need to help build the communities around us.

John: I don’t think there’s anything more important. Giving back has so many forms, macro and micro, and can mean so many different things to different people. It’s easy to get caught up in the politics and mired in the negativity of the media. But, I think if we take a moment to slow down, take a deep breath, appreciate what we have and the good we can do, we’d be better off. For me personally, giving back and wisdom go hand in hand. If you’ve found success in any small facet of life, you have wisdom to impart and advice to give. Take the experiences you’ve had in your life, the obstacles you’ve overcome, the lessons you’ve learned and find ways to share with others. Feeling alone is a devastating feeling. To instill hope in others is what giving back ultimately means.

6. Where can we see you perform next?

John: Follow on Instagram @john_gilbride_music and ‘like’ my Facebook page “Music By John Gilbride” for updates and and my weekly show schedule at clubs and bars around the city. I’ll be performing for another amazing organization, City Year Philadelphia Thursday evening June 21st with my band. Another organization, helping schools, helping children and setting them up for a brighter future.

Rob: My next 2 Philadelphia shows with Hambone Relay are on Saturday April 21st: The first is at  Ardmore music hall at 1 p.m. (Record Store Day) and the second is at Time Restaurant at 10 p.m.  Hope to see you there. Follow me on the socials and let’s chat: Insta is @robtaitmusic and Facebook is “The Rob Tait Experiment.”

Spruce believes that our generation has so much to give to the causes we care about, so we put out the call for area nonprofits to advertise their opportunities to get involved in our newsletter.

Please read on for this month’s opportunities! (Disclaimer: Please note that as an all-volunteer organization, Spruce is not able to vet these organizations or opportunities and encourages you to do your own research.)

Ahimsa House Philly (of The Purblind Project)

About this opportunity: On April 22, Ahimsa House Philly will have an earth day fundraiser to support its community garden. Please come and show your support. Ahimsa House Philly has free classes daily and frequent volunteer days. All its teachers are volunteers, so if you would like to teach a class please come by one of its existing classes.

For more information: Contact ahimsahousephilly@gmail.com

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

About this opportunity: Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is a Philadelphia-based mission-driven 501(c)3 organization serving the Greater Philadelphia area. It is dedicated to presenting and teaching Arab culture through the arts and language. Al-Bustan is seeking to add additional members to its board of directors. Board members serve a term of 3 years and are eligible to serve 2 more terms of service (up to 9 years) before they must rotate off the board. The Board of Directors meets 5 times per year and has several committees that engage board members in the organization’s work: governance, finance, and development. Committee meetings are held in between board meetings. Board members are expected to serve on a committee and attend at least 4 of 5 yearly board meetings, as well as participating in various Al-Bustan programs.

Al-Bustan is looking for individuals with one or more of the following specific skills and/or areas of expertise:

  1. financial management and/or accounting
  2. personnel Georgia E Gregory Interdenominational School of Musicmanagement/human resourcesZfundraising and development
  3. social media, communications and public/media relations
  4. active involvement with the education, arts, and/or business community

For more information: Please see this information sheet for more information about this opportunity and how to apply.

Georgia E Gregory Interdenominational School of Music

About the opportunity: The Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music is seeking a volunteer to help build and monitor their website or to provide training on how to update the website. They’re also looking for assistance with their current social media platforms, advice on other social media platforms they should investigation, design help, and social media post help.

For more information: Please contact Joyce Drayton at gegisom@aol.com

MVP360 Community Programs

About this opportunity: We are in need of program facilitators, coaches, photographers, videographers, scorekeepers, referees etc. We are looking for dedicated volunteers to assist with MVP360. You don’t need technical sports experience you just need to be reliable because we have an entire community depending on us. We’ll continue to do what we do, but it would be nice to do so much more. Mostly Saturdays and Mondays. Some Wednesdays as well.

For more information: Contact Felix Agosto at mvp360@outlook.com

Philly Girls in Motion (PGiM)

About this opportunity: PGiM is currently seeking board members and race committee members. Board members have bi-monthly meetings and participation in board committees is required. PGiM is also looking for volunteers (and runners) for its “See Chicks Run” 5k/10k race, scheduled for June 3, 2018. You can register to run here.

For more information: Contact Jillian Green at JGreen@phillygirlsinmotion.org

Sky Community Partners

About this opportunity: On Saturday April 21st, Sky Community Partners will have its 4th Annual Point Breeze 5K and Health Fair. The Point Breeze 5K and Health Fair is to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer and to promote healthy living. The event will take place at Wharton Square Park on 23rd and Wharton Streets.

For more information: Please view this flyer and this flyer. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can sign up here.

TechGirlz

About the opportunity: Join our great community of volunteer instructors and assistants. TechGirlz hosts free technology workshops for middle school girls. The workshops are on weekends and weeknights and happen both in Philadelphia and the suburbs. New opportunities to volunteer each month, and a great way to network. Join our community and help inspire the next generation of girls in tech!

For more information: Contact Danica Pascavage at danica@techgirlz.org

West Philly Food Not Bombs

About this opportunity: Picking up, cooking, sharing and cleaning up food that would otherwise be wasted. every Friday from 2:30-5:30 we need volunteers, and people to simply come enjoy food & get free produce.

For more information: Contact ahimsahousephilly@gmail.com.

 

 

Talking to Jeaninne Kayembe, the Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Urban Creators was one of those conversations where as soon as it was over I couldn’t wait to share what I had learned with everyone I talked to. Since that call, I’ve told co-workers, friends, other Sprucer’s and even the cashier at the grocery store about Urban Creators. And everyone’s reaction is the same — that’s so cool.

Urban Creators was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who upon returning from service work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina looked around and realized there was work to be done in their own neighborhood. “We came back and realized where we lived didn’t look all that different from what we had seen in New Orleans,” Jeaninne explained, “so, we brought together members of our community to brainstorm creative ways to make a positive change.”

Where we lived didn’t look all that different from what we had seen in New Orleans.

Through their work, they’ve been able to provide the community with what Jeaninne referred to as a “safe space and urban oasis” in the form of an urban farm and creative space. The farm itself supports the community in two ways, first in providing good, whole foods in a neighborhood that’s considered a food desert, and second, it gives the young people in the community the opportunity for meaningful employment. “One of our main goals is to employ as many young people in our neighborhood as possible.” Jeaninne explained, and this model has paid off, “in the three-block radius surrounding the farm, the Part 1 violent crime rate among 18 – 24-year-olds has dropped 40% since we’ve started.”

Beyond the farm, the “Creators” part of their name is also a main focus. Kayembe shared, “We strive to create opportunities for our community to become affluent in the arts. We bring in artists from Philadelphia and around the country for shows in our space.” But shows like this are just one of many things Urban Creators is bringing to the neighborhood. Each year Urban Creators host a community event that brings local musicians, artists, and other creatives together for their annual HoodStock Community and Arts Festival. The event also offers something super unique to them — a graffiti invitational. Jeaninne explained, “We want to ensure young, marginalized people have a platform for whatever their passion is — this event gives graffiti artists a safe place to pursue their passion.” They also offer First Friday Art Gallerys at the farm and a variety of other events throughout the year.

We want to ensure young, marginalized people have a platform for whatever their passion is.

But if you’re looking for other ways to get involved, they offer Second Saturday volunteer days, where anyone is welcome to come help, opportunities for corporate giving days, and through a brand new partnership with Airbnb experiences, you can now participate in their Art in Urban Farming experience where you’ll take have the opportunity to take a tour of the farm, check out the graffiti art and murals, get your hands dirty (literally) helping with daily farm maintence projects and even learn tips for growing vegetables in an urban setting.

I think what makes Urban Creators so special is that it’s essentially an effort to improve the community — by the people who live there. When I asked Jeaninne what’s next she shared, “Like the farm our group is a living, breathing organism. We’ll continue to grow and change based on the needs of our community.” and I for one, can’t wait to see what they do next.

Monica O’Donoghue is the kind of person who exudes passion. It’s in the tone of her voice. It’s in the words she uses when she talks about what she does and what she loves. And it’s also in the story of her life.

Monica grew up in the Philadelphia area, attending high school at Merion Mercy Academy in Merion Station and college at Villanova University. Growing up in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic school taught her the importance of being involved and giving back. Catholic school has required service hours. Some students would complain about this. Not Monica. She took this as a lesson: it taught her how to fit giving into her life.

Even prior to high school, Monica was instilled with a sense of giving and duty by her parents, who gave their own time and money to a variety of causes growing up. They also spent holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving, giving meals to families in Camden, leaving a warm home to go door to door feeding families in need. In Monica’s family, she says, “giving back was just what you did.”

Monica spends a lot of her time as a member of the Friends of Cristo Rey. Cristo Rey is a high school in North Philadelphia. She has been part of the organization for 2 years. It’s an independent school (not a charter school), aptly called “the school that works.” Students attend class four days per week, rounding out their weeks working one to two days at partnering businesses in the Philadelphia area. The Friends of Cristo Rey provide students with experiences they wouldn’t normally get to do, like taking students ice skating, bowling, and even hiking in Valley Forge. According to Monica, the best part of this work is to help foster connections with and between the students, and to help them understand more about the world around them.

Because she loves bringing people together, she is also part of the Travis Manion Foundation PRUM Committee. The planning committee puts together a gala (this is their 4th annual) in which proceeds are donated to the Travis Manion Foundation. Travis was killed serving overseas 11 years ago, and his family created a foundation in his name, the money goes towards helping vets returning from overseas. It also supports reintroduction services. Monica heard about the organization from her friends, the owners of the Crossfit University City gym and sponsors of the gala, and in classic Monica style, decided she just had to get involved.

Monica’s day job at TD Bank isn’t directly tied to giving (though TD Bank does support corporate and individual giving to a variety of causes). This is part of why she feels so strongly about donating her time and money. She is a senior analyst for the corporate lending business unit, where she works on complex projects related to business strategy and various other initiatives. She is clearly passionate about what she does.

In our interview, my last question for Monica was about the books, talks, or speeches that inspired her and helped her develop her philosophy of philanthropy. She didn’t have an answer. I believe there’s a reason for that. Monica doesn’t need something external to drive or inspire her to give – giving is just what Monica does.