Last week, I attended the Southeastern Council of Foundations Annual Meeting, a regional gathering of grantmakers of all types. It’s always a great event, primarily because of the network it offers, but also because of the two or three ideas I typically take away from the sessions or speakers. I heard a good one this year.
I was serving on a panel, and one of my fellow grantmaker panelists remarked on how often grantees and the public try to give foundations like ours credit for great projects and programs. This panelist makes a habit of clarifying, “No, we don’t get the credit. Our grantees do. They do the work, and all we do is write the check.”
I agree with this sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, I think that discerning grantmaking is important, and doing our job well requires identifying the right partners. Still, whenever I look at one of our grantees being successful, I realize how little we do compared to how much they do.
So it is with all of our partners, but it’s especially true with The Ray. Many of you are familiar with this initiative, but if you are not, this is a great time to learn about them. After all, The Ray just launched a new website, and I encourage each of you to spend some time on it. Be sure to bring your imagination with you, because they’re all about inventing the future.
In short, The Ray is working to transform our highway infrastructure, making it more sustainable if not regenerative, all while using the Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway (the first 18 miles of I-85 in West Georgia) as a proving ground. Our highways haven’t been improved in a meaningful way since the Eisenhower administration, so it’s safe to say this is a desperately needed initiative. Our communities and our environment stand to gain so much from The Ray’s work.
From the very beginning of The Ray, Harriet and Phil Langford (Foundation Trustees and my aunt and uncle) have had an immense passion and commitment to this work. When our Foundation created The Ray as a new nonprofit, they were the right people to lead it. Moreover, we’ve been grateful that four others have joined their team: Allie Kelly as Executive Director and John Picard, Lisa Lilienthal and Alan Anderson as Board members.
I hear quite often how impressed our friends in the environmental movement are by The Ray. It has captured many imaginations, and The Ray has attracted enthusiastic partners like the Georgia Department of Transportation and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
People will often congratulate me for this grantmaking initiative. But no, we don’t get the credit. The Ray does. They have done the work (amazing work), and all the Foundation does is write the check.
So again, I urge you to spend time on their website. I haven’t even told you in this post what they’ve done in the last year! Even more exciting things are coming before the year is out.
And if you happen to run into The Ray Team (kind of like The A-Team, but even cooler), be sure to congratulate them on all of their successes. They deserve it.