To succeed at Moving the Needle comes down to this: Improve and change one life at a time, then repeat that process many times.
At the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, grantmaking to change lives is not a lot of theories; it is an active practice of holding a few specific goals foremost in your mind and not shying away from any segment of the overall need as you make your decisions. Whenever we were faced with opportunities that furthered our specific goals in any way, we supported them if we could. We knew that at the end of the day we would have to ask ourselves, “How many lives did we change?”
To truly improve the quality of life for the greatest number of Arkansans is a profound commitment. During 2009, we placed a special emphasis on education because improving education is linked to poverty reduction. In the big picture, all the Moving the Needle themes intertwine with education.
Without education, you will not create economic development. Without economic development, you will not have many jobs.
To approach education from a grantmaking perspective, it is imperative to cover the entire spectrum. If you have uneducated adults who do not value education or do not have access or support, it will be that much harder for the next generation to have a system that includes everyone. If you do not address early childhood education, you will miss an opportunity to effect change before these children reach adulthood. So we made grants that addressed education for Arkansans of all ages and backgrounds. We knew that the more of us who receive quality education, the more well-educated all Arkansans will be.
Moving the Needle is truly a gargantuan task. Without question, the Foundation can be very effective in seeding activities that further its purpose. However, without collaborative partners, success is unlikely. We have limited funds, and that amount is tiny in comparison to the need. For this reason, collaborative partners are essential to our success. If we can multiply the input of talent, guidance and funding, we will multiply the effectiveness of our grantmaking. I commend the Foundation staff for understanding Arkansas’s issues and for working diligently to bring in partnerships to support Moving the Needle.
Finally, I am proud to have served an organization willing to set such an ambitious goal. Moving the Needle is hard, you are talking about big numbers and effectiveness is critical. This thinking was very much part of our grantmaking. As you review the Foundation’s 2009 Annual Report, you will be looking back and seeing what our impact was.
You can be confident that the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation will do the same, following up on the effectiveness and the impact of the grants it made in 2009 as it has done and continues to do each year.
This is such a remarkable organization. I must recognize the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller and express how thankful I am that his legacy is living on through the work of this Foundation. It was truly a privilege to influence how his gift was used and to see it affect people’s lives. I am honored to have been a part of this process.
MARK C. DORAMUS
Senior Executive Vice President & CFO
Little Rock, Ark.