Board of Directors
Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation
A few days ago on April 22, 2020, Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation Board learned through a public announcement on Facebook that the Promise Academy at Quakerdale has closed their program due to lack of funding. We were also formally informed by the Quakerdale Basketball Eagles Board of Directors on April 16, 2020 that their program has also closed. Both of these programs have been active on our New Providence campus for many years, and their closings represent a significant loss for the individuals and families they served, their staff and boards, the Quakerdale Foundation board, as well as for the community of New Providence and Honey Creek/New Providence church in particular. In light of the collective care we all share for these programs and the individuals and families they serve, the Quakerdale Foundation Board of Directors would like to make a public response to the recent closings of these programs.
In 2016, Quakerdale was faced with serious financial challenges due to changes and declines in state and federal funding that would no longer allow for financial sustainability for the programs we were operating. The Board of Directors prayerfully and unanimously made a difficult, but progressive decision to radically restructure Quakerdale from a single non-profit organization with various programs, to each individual program becoming its own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and Quakerdale transitioning to the Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation. Each new 501(c)3 nonprofit now has their own staff and Board of Directors. Over a two-year restructuring, Quakerdale’s role shifted from being a direct-service program, to a grantmaking foundation to which each individual organization could apply for funding. This transition has been challenging, and admittedly has created a strong sense of loss for the legacy and history of programs traditionally run by Quakerdale. However, we also have carried the hope that we might find innovative ways to continue Josiah White’s mission alive and well by providing funds to organizations that align with this mission.
Under this new structure, each and any organization (including existing and new organizations) has the opportunity to request funding from the Quakerdale Foundation Board, and then proceed through an annual grant application process. These requests are filled based on the program’s compatibility with the mission of Josiah White and total funds available to the Quakerdale Foundation for the given year. Once grants are made, it is the Quakerdale Foundation’s responsibility to be good stewards of the money given to us by continually evaluating whether each organization is meeting its own defined mission and goals, and whether they are managing funds responsibly and ethically. The Quakerdale Foundation also offers soft services to each organization in consultation to their directors and boards, and access to the services of Quakerdale Foundation’s fundraiser. We want to highlight that for the organizations who were housed on the New Providence campus, it has been particularly difficult to deconstruct and reconstruct the understanding of these programs. On the outside, everything looks the same. Behind the scenes, the structure has gone through a significant change.
As we began to embark on this organizational change, we understood that this new structure would require a transition period to allow organizations to build their individual budgets and funds. To ease this transition, we have granted over one million dollars to New Providence-based organizations since 2018 ($586,000 to Promise Academy at Quakerdale and $508,000 to Quakerdale Basketball). Some of these funds were designated to be paid back to the Quakerdale Foundation for building rent, which could look puzzling to the outside. Our campus buildings are old and require constant and expensive care to remain up to code and safe for the inhabitants. We wanted rent to be a line item in each individual organization’s budget, to transition them to the idea that as independent organizations, they would eventually need to integrate these expenses into their own budgets. We also understood that they would not immediately be able to pay these costs on their own. Our transition plan was to include rent funds supplemental to their grants, and then have them pay those costs back to us — allowing rent allocations to live in their individual budgets, while Quakerdale Foundation ultimately continued to underwrite the costs. In hindsight, it may have been less confusing to the organizations and public if the Quakerdale Foundation had not included this rent money into the grants, and instead held it in our own budget to cover the costs of our buildings.
Another significant part of the transition has been the transference of mission, strategic vision, direct operations, and fiscal sustainability from the former Quakerdale, to each of the organization’s directors, staff, and boards. We predicted that this would be challenging and have walked alongside the organizations throughout the transition, offering consultation, fundraising assistance, and flexibility in grant funding. We’ve had to balance this with our own fiscal responsibility to the endowment with which we’ve been entrusted.
It is always the goal of a foundation to not be the sole financial support of any organization, but instead to encourage grantees to diversify their funding through securing additional grants, and developing their own fundraising strategies. Unfortunately, the Promise Academy at Quakerdale and Quakerdale Basketball were unable to garner the additional resources to allow them to continue programming, and the Quakerdale Foundation was unable to close the gap of additional funds they needed to sustain. The Quakerdale Foundation Board feels substantial grief and concern for the individuals that the Promise Academy at Quakerdale and Quakerdale Basketball served, as well as the dedicated staff and boards who gave their time and resources abundantly to these programs. Also impacted are the communities who gave resources of their time or money to invest in these programs, and who enjoyed meaningful impact and interactions with the participants. Each of our board members have personal and significant histories and relationships with Quakerdale and these programs, and desired as much as everyone for these new nonprofits to succeed. The loss is undeniably tremendous here.
We understand that it can be very difficult for the public to comprehend our funding decisions. While we desire transparency about our own board practices and policies, there are also confidentialities that prohibit us from publicly sharing all of the reasonings behind our decisions. Nonetheless the choices we made concerning grants to these two organizations and all our grantees have been made because of our heartfelt responsibility as stewards of the legacy of Josiah White and those who went before us. We are grateful that as the Quakerdale Foundation Board, we have experienced unity in the midst of candor and honest conversations about the directions and decisions this transition has required. We have relied heavily on prayer and the leading of the Spirit of God. We are confident that we have not lost the vision and mission of Josiah White, and will continue to keep these before us as a guide in our support of every organization who “Serve as Christ Serves.” To this end, we still trust God, even in the midst of these painful events.
We are open to your questions, feedback, and concerns. We encourage you to bring these to us directly to foster meaningful and productive conversations. This also helps us to better identify areas of confusion or misunderstanding, and allows us to further grow and clarify together. Please direct your questions, feedback, or concerns to:
- Rob Talbot, Executive Director
Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation
- Nancy Schornack, President, Board of Directors
Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation
All questions, concerns, and comments will be shared with the full board, We will do our best to engage you in individual conversations, or create forums for ongoing understanding within our community.