Making the Days Count

01 Feb, 2023

Making the Days Count

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February 1, 2023

Making the Days Count – 2023: Our Final Full Year Together

Written by Rhonnel Sotelo, Chief Executive Officer

Nearly a decade ago, I reached a crossroads in my career, searching and yearning for inspiration. I needed to be challenged, awakened. The Rogers Family Foundation – its mission, team, culture – took me in, let me lead, and helped me rediscover my passion for community change. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

When you become one with a place and its people, you hope it lasts forever. The Rogers Family Foundation did not offer this possibility as it was never designed to exist in perpetuity. In October 2020, we publicly announced that our nearly two-decade commitment to Oakland and its students, families, and schools would sunset within a five-year window. That window is now closing.

2023 represents our last full year of grantmaking and operations, and our entire team is committed to making it our best year yet. As Muhammad Ali once said: “Don’t count the days, make the days count.” As we strive to make a difference each day across the Oakland public education landscape, we also want to reflect, recognize, and celebrate the indelible and enduring efforts of grantees, partners, and The Town’s amazing young people. Here are some things you’ll see from us this year:

RFF Team gets ready for the best year yet.

  • Our team is diving deep, partnering with grantees to highlight their work across the strategic focus areas over the Foundation’s lifetime. We’ll publish our first story featuring Youth Development in Oakland in early February.
  • Speaking of our team, do you know how great and fun they are? I’ve been in philanthropy for over 20 years and I hold the unshakeable belief that this group is the most talented, committed, and greatest collection of people with whom I have worked. Some team members will say farewell this year, while a few of us will remain to close out our work in 2024. I’ll shout out their accomplishments and contributions in feature pieces throughout the year.
  • Do we have a defining element – a secret sauce – that makes us who we are? Maybe. We’ll look to highlight what it means to be a local foundation being in service to our grantee partners and community collaborations. Each of our team members puts in work beyond the transaction of a grant. We’ll share more of that story.
  • As time allows and interest demands, we’ll impart thoughts and reflections from our experience as a limited lifetime foundation. We’ve spent the last three to five years learning about the must-do items and the issues that need to be addressed early for both our grantee partners and team members. Some things we’ve implemented could have been executed long before we entered our current timeline. Some of these lessons can be applied to any philanthropy, limited lifetime or not.

It has been an incredible journey. We are grateful for the opportunity to have been of service to many of you. We invite you to follow along through 2023. We hope you’ll read, share, and comment on our stories as a way of remembering what we’ve learned and accomplished together, but also as a continued call to action to support Oakland’s students and families. Please feel free to reach out – we are open to sharing our collective and individual journeys as we remain committed to the Oakland community through our last years.

Connect with Rhonnel at | Twitter | LinkedIn
Connect with any RFF team member HERE