Jenny San Jose & Kristen Rosenbaum, Co-Presidents of Impact FFC
Propelling organizations’ fundraising efforts and raising awareness
Photography by ChiChi Ubina
My family moved to Greenwich from The Bahamas in January 2010 in the middle of a snowstorm. Our five kids, who were quite young at the time, had seen a bit of snow before, but never as much as they did that first winter! Thirteen years later, snow sports (especially skiing) are their favorite activities. Now aged 21, 20, 19, 18, and 15, they enjoy returning to the Bahamas to visit, but love living in Greenwich where we can experience all four seasons.
I joined Impact FFC eight years ago, when Wendy Block and Vicki Craver first founded this collective giving organization. I wanted to learn more about the important work that non-profits do in our community. I also was eager to meet like-minded women in Greenwich and neighboring towns, women who are driven to work together to improve the lives of those in need. Finally, I joined Impact FFC because I believe it is important to be a philanthropic role model for my children. I hope when they see me taking an interest in local social causes, it inspires them to do the same, to consider others, and to leave the world a better place than they found it.
My first year as a member of Impact FFC, I volunteered to be a part of the Financial Review Committee and helped evaluate the financial stability of each of our grant applicants. I was so inspired by the sheer number of exceptional non-profits in our community all providing essential services. Every year thereafter, I became more involved: I chaired the Financial Review Committee; I joined a Grant Review Committee and spent time digging into dozens of deserving applications; I was elected to the Board and helped grow our membership and our non-profit reach; and this coming year, Impact’s 9th, I will be Co-President along with Jenny.
Impact FFC has grown significantly over the last eight years, both in terms of membership and dollars funded. Over the next two years that I am Co-President, I would like to see Impact FFC continue this growth. Can we provide three $100,000 grants each year instead of two? Can we expand our membership both in terms of numbers and diversity to reach more women from all over Fairfield County? Can we identify and support more nonprofits that are working so hard to better our community? Although Impact FFC’s grants themselves might be small within an organization’s larger operations, I have seen these funds create a ripple effect from which nonprofits obtain notoriety and even larger grants, enabling them to help more and more constituents.
Jenny San Jose
I live in Darien, with my husband and 2 children (19 and 16). We moved to Darien from NYC 20 years ago (how time flies!) and love being in Fairfield County. I grew up in the Chicago area and my husband is from New Jersey. We decided to move to CT after my brother and his family moved to Greenwich from NYC, and it’s been fantastic to have our kids grow up near their cousins!
A friend had invited me to a coffee at her house to learn more about Impact, and once I heard about the model and the hands-on opportunity to learn about philanthropy and local nonprofits, I was in!
Each year, I have become more deeply involved with Impact. During my first year, I served on a Review Committee to get a close look at the grant applications and learn about the process. By the next year, I was a Review Committee Chair, helping to facilitate discussions of the applications and introducing new women to Impact. After that, I joined the Board as Vice President, and now Co-President. The organization is filled with brilliant, impactful, and energetic women, and I just couldn’t resist getting involved! It’s been a very rewarding experience, and my goal is to continue to spread the word around the county, so more women can take part in this fantastic experience!
I spent many years in various volunteer roles at my children’s school, Greens Farms Academy, and volunteering at our church in Darien. As I established roots in the community, I wanted to get involved in organizations beyond my own family’s ties, and I joined the Board of The Rowan Center for 4 years. As Secretary and Vice Chair, I was able to witness the critical needs of a small local nonprofit, and recognized how important a large grant could be. The Rowan Center was an early recipient of an Impact FFC Grant, and I saw that the Impact grant helped propel the organization’s fundraising efforts and raise awareness. Getting involved with Impact was a natural next step and has given me a new appreciation of how widespread the needs in Fairfield County are.
Through our model, women across the county can unite to address these needs and give back together.
Throughout our eight years of grant making, we have awarded over $1.8 million in the form of 14 $100,000 core mission and project grants and 22 smaller unrestricted grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County. We have a comprehensive grant review process, run by Impact FFC members, that ensures our grants go toward transformational projects that improve the lives of those underserved in our community.
We consider our Impact FFC grantees to be our partners in transformational change. After receiving the Impact FFC grant, our non-profit grantees provide regular reports to Impact FFC of the progress of their grant implementation, which we share with our members. We also organize hands-on volunteer opportunities with our current grantees, so our members can continue to engage with our grantees and learn more about their ongoing work in the community.
Our model is $1000 in, $1000 out. So each year, our total grant awards are dependent on the number of current Impact members. In addition to awarding large $100,000 Impact FFC Grants, we also divide the remaining funds received to the “finalists” as general operating grants. For example, last year we had 264 Impact FFC members, which allowed us to award two $101,000 grants, plus three $20,000 general operating grants to the finalists. The grant winners were determined by membership vote at our Annual Meeting in May.
Impact FFC is entirely run by volunteers, so we welcome and encourage our members to get involved!
Last year, we had over 170 women participate on a Review Committee. Our Review Committees represent the backbone of our process – they review 50-60 nonprofit applications each year, make on-site visits to applicants, and select our five finalists who present to all members at our Annual Meeting in May.
The five finalists present their proposed projects to our membership at our Annual Meeting in May, and the members vote at the meeting to determine which finalists will be awarded the $100,000 grants.
Volunteers draft articles about our members and our past grantees, highlighting the transformative effect of members’ engagement and our grantees’ programming. Some members assist with planning educational events, communicating our vision across all of Fairfield County, or coordinating volunteer days with our current and past grantees.
In addition to volunteering with Impact FFC, our members volunteer with our grantees. In the past, we have built a garden, staffed a food pantry, handed out Halloween candy, and organized clothing drives. We are proud to share that there have been several instances of Impact FFC members joining the boards and management teams of a number of our grantees!
Our membership goal is to welcome all women in Fairfield County who would like to join us in this collective giving movement and be a part of changing lives in our community. We are delighted to add more members each year, as this allows us to give out even more funding in grants. We have been excited to see Impact grow and evolve as more women throughout the county learn about our model and our inspiring outcomes.
Most of our members renew their membership – our members feel united by the transformational effects of collective giving and want to continue contributing to powerful change in our community. Each year offers a new experience, as members review new grant applications, learn about different non-profits and needs in our community, and connect with new women who have joined.
We offer a variety of events throughout the year, some educational and some purely social. Our Impactful Conversations series, held in October and in February, feature Impact grantees in fascinating panel discussions on varied topics. Our member coffees and social events allow our members to mingle and meet new women in the area. Our volunteer events with our grantees provide a chance for members to see our grantees’ work up-close and join in a meaningful activity that supports the grantees’ work. Our Review Committees meet two to three times per year and attend up to three applicant site visits.
Our members feel united by the transformational effects of collective giving and want to continue contributing to powerful change in our community.
We have a detailed calendar of events with descriptions and the ability to RSVP on our website, but here are few upcoming highlights:
- Wednesday, October 4th at Darien Library – 12:00pm – 2:00pm Lunch & Learn Series Impactful Conversations: No Place Like Home
- Wednesday, October 18th at Hydroponics Farm & Food Pantry Bridgeport – 12:00pm – 4:00pm – Tour & Volunteer with Grantee nOURish BRIDGEPORT
- Tuesday October 24th at Bruce Museum – 10:00am – 12:00pm – Informational Coffee Aux Delices Cafe
- Thursday October 26th on Zoom – 7:00pm – 8:00pm – Book Club: The French House by Helen Fripp Zoom
- Wednesday November 8th at Fall Kick Off at Stamford Museum & Nature Center – 10:00am – 12:00pm
We welcome any woman in Fairfield County to join by filling out a simple membership form on our website. Questions are welcome and can be sent to our team at email@example.com
Throughout our eight years of grant making, we have awarded over $1.8 million in the form of 14 – $100,000 core mission and project grants
Plus 22 smaller unrestricted grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County
We have a comprehensive grant review process, run by Impact FFC members, that ensures our grants go toward transformational projects that improve the lives of those underserved in our community. It would be difficult to share the success stories of all our grantees without writing a novel, but we can highlight last year’s winners.
Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (CAB) provides an academically rigorous education to over 900 PreK through 8th grade students in a values-oriented setting, where children are nurtured, encouraged, and challenged in preparation for a successful life of leadership and service. Impact FFC’s $100,000 grant provided CAB with the resources to build a safe, educational outdoor center at its St. Raphael campus for PreK through third graders, located in one of the most dense and violent neighborhoods in Bridgeport. The Happy Hollow Outdoor Learning Center will provide CAB’s current and future student body with sensory play areas, an outdoor classroom, age-appropriate playground equipment, and a sports court for teamwork, social problem-solving, and motor skill development.
The Center for Empowerment and Education (CEE) provides interpersonal violence education and support services to schools and communities throughout Fairfield County. CEE’s prevention education addresses topics with age-appropriate delivery, empowers students, and educates them about bullying, respect, boundaries, body safety, and healthy relationships. With Impact FFC’s grant, CEE will attain its goal of offering its programming to 100% of upper Fairfield County schools in its service area, while also increasing its outreach and training for professionals in our community.
Our impact to date has also included helping to launch the first nonprofit hydroponic farm in CT; building a dental clinic to serve Bridgeport’s East Side community members of all ages; providing pro bono legal services to victims of domestic abuse; establishing on-site youth mental health support at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, and much more. For more details about our varied grants and updates over the years, please visit our website!