Mitch and Shira Green have always felt strongly about supporting their local community. Mitch, a Clevelander, met Shira, a Torontonian, at the University of Michigan. After they moved to Toronto together, Mitch still wanted to support his hometown from afar, but needed help understanding what issues and organizations to support. This is when he discovered the power of community foundations. The Cleveland Foundation (incidentally the first community foundation in the United States, founded in 1914) was able to provide him with local knowledge, research and recommendations for granting, along with all of the fund management.
"Toronto has been a city where people can thrive and we require civic engagement for that to continue. Nonprofit organizations play an important role in preserving this opportunity for future generations."
Having experienced the benefits a community foundation can provide, a few years after Mitch started his fund in Cleveland, the Green’s wanted to do the same in Toronto. Working with Toronto Foundation, they created the Mitch and Shira Green Family Fund. Mitch says “Toronto has been a city where people can thrive and we require civic engagement for that to continue. Nonprofit organizations play an important role in preserving this opportunity for future generations.” He adds, “Government infrastructure can’t do it all. You need people putting more time and money into these organizations to make this happen.” During her nearly 20 years as a therapist at CAMH, Shira saw first-hand how beneficial community-based organizations were to her clients and she wanted to help support this work.
“It surprised us just how deep the community organization ecosystem is in Toronto. We have so much engagement at the grassroots level.”
Mitch and Shira are especially interested in economic development and making it possible for disadvantaged residents to have an opportunity to thrive. Their approach is multifaceted, supporting organizations focused on immigrants, employee ownership, entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities and training to support workforce re-entry. Working with Toronto Foundation staff and using its tools and resources, Mitch and Shira have found new organizations to support. “It’s exciting to learn about organizations serving various populations. It surprised us just how deep the community organization ecosystem is in Toronto. We have so much engagement at the grassroots level.” Mitch adds that they like to support grassroots groups as they are able to “identify a need and work directly with that group to have higher impact.”
Since starting their first fund at Toronto Foundation they’ve also set up a social impact fund, which invests 100% of their donation into social purpose projects. Mitch and Shira see this fund as a way to fill the gaps in the banking and lending community and give access to capital to underserved communities.
For the Green's, starting a fund has formalized the spirit of giving and increased their connection to the community. Mitch says, “Now that we have a family fund, we feel a commitment to both build it and to use it wisely, which is where the Toronto Foundation staff help.”
We are always excited to welcome new fundholders to our community. Mitch and Shira have joined 30 others in setting up a social impact investment fund at Toronto Foundation. Many fundholders join us in the fall before the next year’s Learning Exchange program and to leverage charitable tax benefits from year-end giving.
To learn about setting up your own fund at Toronto Foundation, contact Aneil Gokhale, Director, Philanthropy.