Eighteen years ago, T. Gary Rogers and his wife Kathleen (Cab), established the Rogers Family Foundation with a keystone goal of supporting excellence. Both Gary and Cab sought to support organizations that aspired to be the best and provide opportunity for people to reach their full potential. Since its founding, the Foundation has focused a majority of its effort and grantmaking to support those organizations that have endeavored to provide the highest quality educational opportunities to Oakland students.
Spurred on by our motto of “Go Out and Do Good!,” the Foundation has worked with urgency because the opportunity of access to a high quality education for many Oakland students does not exist. We have also worked with urgency because the Rogers Family Foundation was not designed to exist in perpetuity – we knew from our founding that the Foundation would expend its assets to its best use over a short period of time.
It is therefore with bittersweet emotions that we share with our grantees, partners, and fellow community organizations our planned spend down of the T. Gary and Kathleen Rogers Family Foundation. Within the next five years, we anticipate sunsetting our Oakland education grantmaking and operations. While it is very difficult for our family to announce that our education work will be ending, it heartens us to reflect on the work that has been accomplished together and to know that for these next five years we will continue to invest in organizations that support our long-standing strategic focus on Oakland public education.
Our final strategic Oakland education plan outlines our intent to continue making grants supporting our vision that Oakland’s students will succeed in school, thrive in their careers, and engage in their community. We will focus on schools and organizations that strive to build these opportunities and put students at the center. In addition, as we spend down, the Rogers Family Foundation will also endeavor to make grants that stabilize and build capacity in those organizations that we have partnered closely with over the last 18 years in order to ensure that those organizations are in a position of financial strength to continue their important work long after the conclusion of our grantmaking.
Our founder, T. Gary Rogers greatly enjoyed a poem entitled “The Palace” by Rudyard Kipling. It is the story of a king, who in building a palace for himself comes across the ruins of a previously built palace. Written on the foundation of the old palace are the words “After me cometh a builder. Tell him I too have known.” Try as he might, the king is unsuccessful in fixing the foundation of the old palace and building his new palace. In the end, defeated in his initial purpose of building a palace, but heartened by the struggle and the lessons he has learned in the process, he, too carves into his abandoned foundation: “After me cometh a builder. Tell him I too have known.”
As we have worked, and will continue to work, with our wonderful grantees and partners “in the trenches” toward our vision and mission, we, too have come to realize that our joy has been working alongside all of you and supporting your organizations as we all try to do better for our Oakland students. We also hope that we have helped to build a foundation upon which others can come and build toward our collective vision of a high quality Oakland school system that serves all students equitably.
We understand that this announcement may generate concerns and questions. We look forward to finding time with our grantee partners and other community organizations to dive into our strategic plan and address any questions and concerns that you may have about our planned work over our remaining five years.
Chief Executive Officer