Throughout our lives we have each had the good fortune to learn from exemplary role models. So to explain our shared enthusiasm and deep commitment to the work of the Raikes Foundation, we need to start with our earliest and most influential role models.
We grew up 1,700 miles apart, in very different settings – Tricia in the city in Seattle, Jeff on a farm near Ashland, Nebraska – but we were each raised by parents who believed in giving back to the community, and who lived their values in big and small ways every day. Whether it was Tricia accompanying her mom on fundraising drives in the neighborhood – Seattle Children’s Hospital, March of Dimes, United Way – or Jeff helping his dad aid stranded travelers in a Nebraska snowstorm, we each grew up with a clear understanding of the importance of helping others and strengthening communities when we had the resources to do so.
We met as colleagues at Microsoft in the early 1980s, and we are proud to own the distinction of being the first couple to meet and marry at Microsoft. Our time at the company was thrilling, challenging and financially rewarding beyond our wildest dreams.
A valuable extension of our Microsoft experience was to meet many new and inspiring role models. Tricia built a fond relationship with Mary Gates, who encouraged her to get more engaged in the nonprofit world and join the board of the local Boys and Girls Club. We both spoke often with Bill and Melinda Gates about their interest in philanthropy, and Jeff later helped further their mission while serving as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We also had the privilege of learning from Jeff's fellow Nebraskan, Warren Buffett, about the need to reinvest wealth back into society with a willingness to take smart risks for greater impact through philanthropy.
Thanks to the guidance of these and many other helpful peers and mentors, we launched the Raikes Foundation in 2002 as our vehicle to help others.
Our decision to focus our grantmaking on the needs of young people came from our most inspiring role models: our three children. As they grew, we watched each of them struggle with, and ultimately conquer, a range of childhood and adolescent challenges; but we often found ourselves searching for approaches and guidance on how to support them. We realized that if we were struggling to find effective ways to help our kids make the transition to adulthood, even with all of the resources at our disposal, millions of other young people had to be facing far more ominous challenges with far less assistance.
Our children have gone off to college and started careers, but we continue to be inspired and motivated by the many young people we are privileged to meet here in Seattle and across the country who are striving to become successful adults.
Young people are the ultimate role models for all of us at the Raikes Foundation. That is why empowering young people to transform their lives is our highest priority at the Raikes Foundation.
We have learned many valuable lessons since launching the Raikes Foundation in 2002. One of the most important is that doing philanthropy well requires a lot of hard work. We've also learned that to sustain the energy and motivation necessary to achieve our goals, it’s imperative to lead with our heart and support causes we care deeply about.
But passion alone is not enough. To effect lasting change, we believe in engaging the head as well as the heart to develop thoughtful, disciplined grantmaking strategies that incorporate regular reflection and ensure we are on track to reach our objectives.
With these lessons in mind, we spend a great deal of time reviewing and refining our approach to philanthropy at the Raikes Foundation. We study our predecessors, we exchange ideas with our peers and we listen closely to our partners and grantees. As a result, our approach to philanthropy is always a work in progress.
Nonetheless, we do have several core principles that influence every grant we make and every strategy we pursue.
Chief of Staff
Program Officer, Education
Senior Advisor, Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative
Program Officer, Education
Director, Youth Homelessness
Program Officer, Expanded Learning Opportunities
Program Officer, Youth Homelessness