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.
The Raikes Foundation invests in youth-serving institutions and systems to make them more effective in supporting and empowering all young people, especially those who have been most marginalized.
A just and inclusive society where all young people have the support they need to achieve their full potential.
Equity: We aspire to a more just and equitable world. And we accept our responsibility to understand and address the longstanding racial and social inequities that shape the systems we aim to impact today. Our commitment to equity guides the problems we aim to solve, the partners we choose and the actions we take.
The power of young people: We believe in the boundless potential of young people to change the world. By acknowledging the humanity in every young person and ensuring systems work for those who have been most marginalized, all young people will be able reach their full potential.
Systemic change: We believe that the most enduring impact comes from improving systems that serve large numbers of young people, not just focusing on specific programs or organizations. To achieve change at this level, we focus on high-leverage opportunities for impact where private philanthropy can play a catalytic role.
Collaboration and partnership: Systems-level change doesn’t happen without collaboration and deep engagement with the communities the systems serve. There are multiple constituencies who must work together to advance solutions. Collaboration is an essential ingredient of our approach, both internally and externally.
Diversity of knowledge and expertise: We use scientific research and data to inform our work while also proactively seeking out the insights and expertise of people with lived experience from the communities we serve, especially young people.
Learning: The work we do is always evolving. Our desire to continuously learn drives us to seek and embrace feedback, integrate new information, reflect on successes and failures, and always look for ways to more effectively achieve our mission.
Program Officer, Education
Senior Advisor, Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative
Program Officer, Education
Director, Youth Homelessness
Chief of Staff
Program Officer, Expanded Learning Opportunities
Program Officer, Youth Homelessness
Program Assistant, Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative