Girls Night with Jennifer Love Hewitt

Two weeks ago one of my co-workers invited us over to her apartment for a girls only movie night. We were all exited because Lindsay is on the events team at Robin Hood. Anyone who can put together this:

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is certainly going to put together a good girls night! And we were not disappointed. Lindsay’s apartment was impeccably decorated – I felt like we walked into a West Elm store. And she appropriately applied the “movie night” theme to the evening with fresh popcorn in red and white stripped boxes and large boxes of movie theater candy.

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We spent the evening chatting, snacking of delicious treats, drinking blood orange mimosas and sharing in the heartache of Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can’t Hardly Wait. It is pretty incredible to have such a fun evening with your co-workers!


Thanks Lindsay – you certainly have set the bar high! In fact, I was all geared up to host the next girls night, but I am now rethinking that idea… at least until after I see what you have in store for this year’s benefit!

Be Robin Hood

I blogged earlier 2011 is going to be an amazing year. Matt and I are getting married, I am committed to making the most out of living in New York, my sister will lead her OWN swim team during conference and the national championships, and hopefully the Patriots continue their latest string of successes with a Super Bowl win. But most importantly, in 2011, I will get to be Robin Hood.

Last week I blogged about some exciting career news that I had to share. And now I can finally announce that, as of today, I am a proud member of the Robin Hood Foundation. An opportunity presented itself for me to leave my previous position and join this amazing organization. And while this position will undoubtably come with many challenges, longer hours than I am used to and a lot of work, I believe that it will be worth it. For the past two years, I have been thirsting for a bigger challenge, a more meaningful mission, and to be part of an organization that is proud of its work. After spending one day in their office, I know I have found all of these things.

I have blogged about Robin Hood before, but for those of you that are unfamiliar with it, Robin Hood is a charitable organization that fights poverty in New York City. Currently, 1.8 million New Yorkers are living in poverty. Together, they could populate the fifth largest city in the United States–larger than Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco combined. These people struggle with the rising costs of food and housing, and fewer opportunities for adequate health care, quality education and secure employment exist.

Robin Hood is changing the fates and saving the lives of these people by applying investment principles to charitable giving. They find, fund and create the most effective programs and schools serving families in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods.

Robin Hood follows an extensive due diligence process to ensure that every dollar invested generates results. Before investing in a program, Robin Hood reviews its strategy, scrutinizes its financial statements, evaluates its management teams, and conducts multiple visits.

And the support doesn’t stop there. Robin Hood protects and leverages its charitable investments with top-notch management and technical assistance. Their in-house management experts help programs with their strategic and financial planning, recruiting and legal concerns, organizational issues and capital needs…with whatever they require. And if they don’t have the expertise in-house, they get it elsewhere. They have access to the top people and firms in New York to get the job done pro bono.

And because Robin Hood’s board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, 100% of donations goes directly to organizations helping impoverished New Yorkers build better lives.

So… for those of you wondering what it is like to work at Robin Hood… I can now tell you. I started my first day with an all staff meeting that felt more like a really interesting college seminar on business analytics coupled with a high school pep rally. The obvious intelligence in the room was almost as much as the pride and honor the employees felt for their organization and for each other. The meeting culminated with the presentation of a cake depicting a scene from the movie Robin Hood, which was created, by who other than Buddy, the Cake Boss.

Not a bad way to start the year.

Robin Hood Responds

All of us have heard the story of Robin Hood. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure starting in medieval times continuing through modern literature, films, and television. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor,” assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his “Merry Men.”

 

The Robin Hood Foundation, formed in 1988 by a successful hedge fund manager, applies this idea, of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, to help fight poverty in New York City. The board of Directors (the Merry Men) totes some of the most influential names in our society; from NBC President and CEO Jeff Zucker to Gwyneth Paltrow to many of the leaders in the financial industries. Power, knowledge and resources combine to run, and more impressively, to underwrite all administrative costs of the foundation so that 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to help those in need.

Robin Hood was a pioneer in what is now called venture philanthropy, or charity that embraces free-market forces. An early practitioner of using metrics to measure the effectiveness of grants, it applies sound investment principles to philanthropy. In doing so, the foundation has helped to save lives and change fates.  

Robin Hood targets poverty by identifying and attacking the main source. That’s why Robin Hood focuses on poverty prevention through programs in early childhood, youth, education, jobs and economic security. And while prevention is the under lying goal, there are people who are currently living in poverty, so they also fund basic survival programs in healthcare, hunger, housing and domestic violence.

Last night I had the honor of attending Robin Hood’s annual gala which was held at the Jacob Javits Center. Being part of such an incredible movement was inspiring. Being in a room that raised just over $88 million in the span of one evening is an experience you can’t imagine. While it is easy to point fingers at Wall Street, especially after recent events, it is hard to ignore the generosity and good will of so many. I was reminded how fortunate I am to have been raised by strong and supportive parents. They worked hard for their success and taught me to do the same. While my bank account and list of accomplishments pales in comparison to many of the other people in the room, I certainly have a lot more to my name, and have experienced a lot more in my 27 years, than many other New Yorkers.

 

So I thank my parents and family members for providing me with the education and tools to succeed. I promise to make more of an effort to remember this “not so little thing” every day.