Success Story

A Family’s Story of Support and Giving

When we think of generational giving, we often think of parents as the spark, the ones leading and shaping their children. But what happens when it’s the child who inspires the parent? Call it the multiplier effect. Here’s one family’s story …

For Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, philanthropy is second nature. While growing up, she saw in her father, Charles Schwab, a man who believes in and demonstrates giving. His support for the arts and commitment to children with learning disabilities run deep. But it wasn’t just her father’s altruism that caught her attention. Carrie also saw a man who believes in giving his children the freedom to discover their purpose.

It’s a lesson she carried forward with her own family, especially with her daughter, Leigh. It’s also one she wants to share with others. [See Carrie’s tips at the end of the story.]

When raising Leigh, Carrie thoughtfully provided a supportive environment. She had her own mission – helping women achieve economic parity and financial literacy – but it was there as a model, not a mandate. Like her father, Carrie knew when to step aside. She made room for Leigh to dream, even when those dreams would take her thousands of miles from home to Kenya and the Daraja Academy, a secondary school for girls.

Pictured: Carrie (right), and her daughter, Leigh (left), alongside students and volunteers from the Daraja Academy.

Pictured: Carrie (right), and her daughter, Leigh (left), alongside students and volunteers from the Daraja Academy.

Throughout the journey, Leigh had the encouragement of her family. Yes, the distance was hard. Carrie and her husband were understandably concerned about Leigh being so far away. But they also knew this truth: When you find your passion, you have to follow it. And so when Leigh came home after her first trip and wanted to return, they backed the decision.

Then it happened. The moment when the child becomes the spark. For this return trip to Nairobi, what about Carrie going as well? There was only one answer. 

In Africa, Carrie discovered that she, too, genuinely was moved by Daraja. Now, she says, “I’m obsessed and promoting their work.” 

And that multiplier effect? It’s there as Carrie and Leigh enjoy sharing in their time and treasure. Africa is their experience. And it has changed them both.

How do you think someone young in your life would respond to your support in their giving? These three tips from Carrie are a starting point in the discussion:

1.   Foster their passion – Do not push your passion on kids.

2.   Make it easy for them – Say “OK,” and develop boundaries.

3.   Share in it with them – Make the time to volunteer together.

Code of Caring – Three Generations Strong

R.B. Brown, photo courtesy of Calvin Brown

R.B. Brown, photo courtesy of Calvin Brown

A code of caring can start at home. It’s how some families define their commitment to each other. It’s their safety net ensuring no one is left out or left behind. And when that net is extended beyond the family, an indelible legacy is created.

This is the theme of one man’s vision, R.B. Brown, who was born into a family of modest means in central Oklahoma. R.B. was a self-made man who made his money in the oil industry, raised a family, and developed a code of caring in his backyard of tiny Wilson, Oklahoma.

If R.B. learned a child needed clothing to go to school, he’d frequently and anonymously buy them something to wear. On occasion, for the senior prom, he purchased suits and dresses for the needy students so that they could attend and celebrate their rite of passage. 

R.B.’s compassion and concern for others has been passed down to his son, Calvin, who is carrying on the family tradition in Wilson. After his wife, Katie, died, Calvin started a memorial scholarship in her name for graduating high school seniors. 

The annual scholarship enables one deserving senior from Wilson High School to go to college. The winner receives funding for the freshman and sophomore years, considered the most difficult to get through. To be considered, students must demonstrate scholastic achievement, be inclusive, demonstrate a pattern of giving to others in need, and be well-liked by teachers, staff, and classmates.

R.B.’s legacy of caring continues with his grandchildren, including Scott, who lives in a large city and regularly buys meals for homeless individuals he meets on the street.

What began as one man’s vision to help others has expanded over three generations. R.B.’s commitment to others and his code of caring set an example for his family and was the catalyst for a net of compassion cast far beyond Wilson.

Social Change: One Family’s Legacy

Social change runs deep in some families. It’s a tradition passed on through words and deeds – a legacy as sure as those marked by names on buildings.

That’s the case with one multigenerational family we’ve come to know. Their commitment to helping others started years ago at home and spread far beyond. You can see it in Stephanie, the middle generation. We’ve changed her name but not her story. She recalls growing up with a supportive father who found interest in anything that interested her. Then, when Stephanie struggled with addiction, he was there too. By her side. Always.

Stephanie went on to have children, pursue an education, and become a social worker. It’s in her day-to-day work that we see the seeds of giving being planted in the next generation. When visiting underserved families, Stephanie would often bring her daughter along.

Now a college student, that daughter, whom we’ll call Leigh Ann, is keenly self-aware and following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mission: helping the homeless. Leigh Ann regularly volunteers at local shelters when she’s not fundraising for international causes to support homeless children or managing her college coursework.

And Stephanie’s father, who started it all? He’s a big part of Leigh Ann’s life as well. He consistently forwards articles about homelessness and provides donations when his granddaughter is fundraising for her favorite international nonprofit. Leigh Ann acknowledges him and her mother for instilling in her a behavior of giving – a lesson passed on through their strong sense of well-being and love.

Yes, social change runs deep in some families. It is a legacy. A legacy with meaning and purpose.

Lessons of Giving Start One Example at a Time

There are so many ways to make a difference. Some of us give with our wallets. Some of us build with our hands. And some of us contribute our time. However we help others, giving by example can be the best way to establish a legacy of family philanthropy.

That’s the story of a woman we’ll call Sarah. She grew up in a family of modest means. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t give to others. Sarah’s mother volunteered, and she talked to Sarah about the charities that were important to her.

When Sarah reached high school, she followed her mother’s example. Sarah became a candy striper at a local hospital. And that tradition of giving continued as she got older, married and had children.

While on a family trip to the Far East, she and other like-minded people learned that a small group of homeless children needed an orphanage, a school and a sustainable farm for a reliable source of food. Through donations and volunteer work, they made that possible.

Sarah’s efforts were not lost on her youngest daughter, who helped raise money to provide the school with computers. Sarah’s daughter traveled back to the community to work with the school’s teachers to install laptops and support the students with a computer literacy program.

Three generations of philanthropy: grandmother, mother and daughter. A legacy of giving to support others in need. Making a difference in ways that matter to them.