The following is an excerpt from F.B. Heron's new strategic plan.
A New Approach
Like other foundations, the F. B. Heron Foundation has for years focused on helping families at the bottom of the economic and social scale inheritors of persistent poverty, racial and ethnic discrimination, social and geographic isolation, and various failures in markets, social policies, and safety nets. The goal has been to equip them to join what progressive reformers confidently called "the main stream."
Unfortunately, the days of widespread opportunity and marginal poverty are plainly over. For the great bulk of the U.S. population, social and economic mobility have been stagnant for decades. Industrial and technological advances now lead as often to reductions in employment as to increases. Employment at a living wage is neither reliable nor commonplace. Poverty is structural, not marginal.
We have concluded that our strategies based on access to the mainstream appropriate to marginal but not to structural poverty are inadequate. We have also concluded that owning fixed assets is important to an individualís longer-term prosperity only insofar as jobs and income are steady and reliable. Our strategy will put reliable income and cash first and asset acquisition second (particularly to the extent that illiquid assets are acquired with debt). The world has changed, and so must we. It's time for a new approach.
How We Will Work Differently
The urgency and size of the problems we face require that we work differently. Everything at our disposal is now a mission-critical resource. Grants are one tool but not the only tool we have at our disposal and defining ourselves solely as a grantmaking foundation would be limiting. Philanthropy's financial tool kit should include every investment instrument, ranging across all asset classes and targeting all enterprise types.
Heron will build on its history and experience as a mission-related investor and continue to expand our opportunity set and expand the share of our assets invested for mission. We plan to invest 100 percent of our endowment as well as other forms of capital for mission. And beyond money, we are obligated to deploy all the resources at our disposal capital, revenue, ideas, talents, influence, natural allies toward a broad, multi-sector approach. We will not only wield all our capital to the fullest, we will affirmatively and reflexively seek opportunities to influence and be influenced by others through co-investment, advocacy and example.
Our Vision An Economy That Delivers Value to All
An economy capable of offering a job to every willing worker, or at least to every household as well as a workforce capable of seizing the available opportunities is a fundamental prerequisite to achieving most other societal aspirations. Conversely, lack of work invites in a witches' brew of health, educational and social problems that accelerate the spiral into poverty.
We must acknowledge the need to rebalance the economy itself so it can deliver value on America's traditional promise: full livelihood, democracy and opportunity for all. Investing in the building-blocks of that economy and assuring the basics of entry, is a critical responsibility, not only of philanthropic institutions and government, but of banks and businesses. We believe we can realize an economic vision for a more universally prosperous society, one that supports democratic pluralism and civic vibrancy, provides dependable work for adequate pay, protects the most vulnerable, and competes successfully globally. We plan to engage accordingly.