I’m happy to say that since inception we have actually donated more than $42million, through more than 1000 grants to organizations with a laser focus on preventing child abuse and providing treatment to those who have been victimized.. The organizations that we fund are subjected to a rigorous process. They must first respond to the HFC Request For Proposal that is posted each year on the HFC website. All proposals are first vetted by the local academic advisor, who in most cases is a Professor of Social Work at the leading University in that city. More about that later. Their first job in this process is to screen out the proposals that clearly are not “on mission”. In our case, that means without a clear and laser focus on the prevention and treatment of child abuse. 

The proposals that make it through, are then further evaluated by members of the local “Grant Selection Committee.” comprised of individuals from the local business community. Their mission is to decide which existing programs should be re-funded, and which are the most compelling new ones to add. The crucial component of course, is how much money we have available from fund raising activities. It is a bruising and  difficult process due to the fact that there are virtually always, more deserving programs seeking funding than we have the capacity to include. Having said that, in 2015 HFC funded more than 100 programs throughout our network of branches. 

Back to our academic consultants. When I started HFC in the Fall of 1998, one of the first things I did was to meet with the Dean of the Columbia University School of Social Work. I asked the Dean if they would be our guide in choosing the programs we funded, if that is, I was able to raise any money, which at that moment was far from a foregone conclusion. I’d like to say that the idea of going to Columbia was an original idea, but truthfully, that is not the case. Actually, what happened is that I had been telling a friend about my plans to raise money and donate it to programs focused on child abuse, when he stopped my in my tracks! 

“Seriously,who would trust you with their money when you have zero experience in that process, and you know how skittish people are these days about some of the crap that goes on! 

I was definitely taken aback by his vehemence on the subject, but thankfully, in his next breath… 

He said, “Hey, why don’t you see the people at Columbia. Its the top rated graduate school of social work in the U.S. They have to know all the programs out there, because they place their students with them for internships as part of their studies. So they have to know which ones are the best and worst. They can’t place their students in clunkers or they’ll lose their highly coveted rating.”

“Ummm” I droned, “Any chance that you anyone there? How can I get in front of the Dean to even ask?”

“Leave it to me” he said. My wife’s best friend works for the Dean.”

The meeting had barely started when the Dean interrupted and said there was someone that he wanted to bring in to join us. A few minutes later, in walked DR. Kathryn Conroy, the Assistant Dean in charge of “Field Placement” and the person most directly responsible for that internship, placement process described before. 

After about ten minutes later, as I was describing my vision of raising funds and donating funds, but hoping that Columbia would help in the granting process and also devise a way to analyze results, she literally pounded her hand on conference room table and declared, “I want to do this! “

The dean, a wonderful guy named Ron Goldman, added, 

“Wow, what a great idea. Ya know, not one other charity has ever asked us to participate in something like this, even though we probably know the social service community in this city better than anyone! At the very least, as well as anyone! Now let’s see” he went on. “The business community would like to bring badly needed funding to a dramatically underserved population, and they’d like Columbia to assist them in providing the most effective possible home for whatever funds they are able to raise.” He gazed up and feigned heavy thought for about 10 seconds before proclaiming, “Done! Ok Kathryn, the ball is in your court. Rob, with Kathryn in your corner you got better than you bargained for by coming here today. Now go and raise some bucks.”