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Making a Significant Shift in Funding Priorities

On a cold day in February 2015 at a board retreat on the coast of Maine, the board of directors of the Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation made a big decision. After five years of funding nonprofits in Maine focused on civic engagement, cultural tolerance, and women and children, the board decided to take... Read More

The Hardest Thing About Making a Big Bet? Letting Go

On a Friday in February 2015, I invited 24 organizations to apply for funding in response to letters of inquiry our foundation had solicited. The next day, our board held a retreat to evaluate the foundation’s grantmaking outcomes over its first 5 years. We knew the board wanted to talk about how to increase our... Read More

Making a Big Bet: Moving From Transactional to Transformational Philanthropy

The Lerner Foundation had only been making grants for five years when the winds shifted—the board of directors decided it was time for a profound change in our priorities. Our founding purpose is simple and straightforward: “to further opportunity for the people of Maine.” Manny and Polly Lerner’s broad and hopeful intention gave us the... Read More