Profile: Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation’s Serena Moy talks about agency’s history, mission January 1, 2016

Serena Moy is administrator at Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation, which has funded 756 organizations over the past 30 years through $33.2 million in grants and program-related investments. The Schaumburg-based agency’s key areas include supporting programs and services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims; homeless people; and children experiencing abuse and neglect; and youth programs.

How long have you been at Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation?
I have been with the foundation for almost 11 years. I was impressed with BRF’s commitment to funding free health care clinics for the uninsured; services that assist families and individuals to find jobs and affordable housing; programs that help seniors stay in their homes; and much more.

How did Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation begin?
The Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation originated in 1984 from the sale of Ridgeway Hospital, a nonprofit hospital that opened in 1962 focusing on the psychiatric treatment of children and youth in Chicago. Sale proceeds were used to establish the Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation, named in honor of the hospital and its founder, attorney Milroy Blowitz. Since the beginning, one of our primary funding areas has been to support nonprofit agencies that provide medical, psychiatric, and psychological services to economically disadvantaged children and adolescents. Since then, BRF has expanded its mission to support nonprofits that provide vital comprehensive health care and social services to the economically disadvantaged of all ages.

How did Blowitz-Ridgeway become involved with IFF?
After attending a national conference for grantmakers, Tony Dean, one of our trustees, learned about program-related investments and brought the idea back to the board. Another trustee, Barbara Bolsen, said IFF provided consulting to her organization, The Night Ministry, for a renovation project involving a youth shelter. Barbara said IFF’s work was invaluable and helped to ensure construction was completed correctly and on time.

Our first PRI of $200,000 was made to IFF in 1994. PRIs are a way for us to further support grantee organizations as well as nonprofits outside of our guidelines. Plus, they make sense financially because they can be counted as grants and the foundation is guaranteed loan repayments with interest. To date, the foundation has provided 20 PRIs totaling $3.1 million.

How does investing in IFF support your mission?
BRF provides grants to nonprofits to provide the critical services held at these sites. The foundation board appreciates the work IFF has provided to so many nonprofits over the years. Our board thinks supporting IFF is an easy decision, because they — and we — believe in IFF’s work. IFF has been an excellent steward of our investments and has the expertise to help nonprofits reach their goals in an affordable way without compromising the work.

What do you enjoy most about working at Blowitz-Ridgeway?
I am honored to meet so many dynamic people working at nonprofits or serving on their boards, and learn about the many remarkable programs and services they provide. The passion, dedication, expertise, and resourcefulness of the organizations we support are very inspiring. Over the years, I continue to be amazed by the tenacity of the board and staff of our grantee partners that have been able to weather the varied challenges affecting the nonprofit landscape.

In what other activities are you involved?
I volunteer my spare time with the Asian Giving Circle, which I also co-founded 13 years ago. The Asian Giving Circle is a local giving circle where individuals contribute toward the donor-advised fund and make small grants to community-based organizations annually. Through vehicles like a giving circle, individuals can have a greater impact in their personal giving by pooling resources to support causes they care about. I am proud that ours has inspired other Asian American giving circles, which now total 50 nationally.

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