What are you for?

It has been a difficult year in so many ways, but it became the backdrop for many important conversations about what is important in our lives.  In the middle of a Global Pandemic and renewed emphasis on the racial injustice inherent in our society, we are clear about what we are against.  But the real question is – what are we for?

For many of us, our health and healthcare workers, our schools and teachers, and our connections to other people took on a new level of importance.  We cannot possibly thank the people who work in our healthcare and congregate care systems as well as our education systems (including early childhood) enough for their hard work in 2020.  We watched videos of people trying to connect to the most vulnerable through windows and in parking lots as we all scrambled to connect with our loved ones virtually.  We created bubbles of our closest humans and tried to keep one another safe from the virus.

People matter.  When the chips are down, our connections to other people matter the most.  This reality made us think about children and youth in foster care and their often-lost connections to their families and the other important people in their lives.  How do we help keep kids connected to healthy family?  This is one of the things The Sauer Family Foundation is for – healthy family relationships.  Especially for the black, indigenous, and people of color whose families are disproportionately in our Child Welfare System.  As we framed our discussions in what is needed in the community that fits our unique position to help and support, we decided to frame our work in positive goals.  We started with our vision:

Children experience well-being.  They grow up and develop in environments where they are:       

                Supported and nurtured;
                Safe from abuse and neglect;
                Resilient in the face of trauma;
                Successful in school;
                And thriving in their families and communities.

 And updated our mission statement to state what we are for:

We invest in strengthening the well-being of children so they thrive in their families and communities.

We identified who we are most uniquely positioned to serve:

Children who are at-risk or experiencing abuse or neglect, exposed to toxic stress/trauma, or have challenges developing reading, writing and math skills.  We also believe that it is important that children see professionals that look like them. 

By identifying a new positive mission and being clear about who we most want to help, we were able to focus our funding priorities in a new way.  Beginning in 2021 we hope to contribute to:

  1. Building Strong Family Relationships: Prevention and Intervention in Child Welfare
  2. Building Resilience to Trauma: Children, Youth and Caregivers
  3. Building Educational Success for Children: Literacy Skills and Learning Disabilities in Reading, Writing, and Math
  4. Building a Workforce that Reflects the Diversity of Minnesota’s Children: Racially Equitable Career Pathways in our Funding areas.

The Sauer Family Foundation is “for” the well-being of children and especially for the well-being of the children who are struggling the most.  We do not have enough resources to take on all aspects of well-being for children.  We had to decide what we are uniquely positioned to work on regarding the well-being of children in Minnesota.  The question we grappled with in 2020, a time when it has been easy to focus on what we are against, is a question we hope you grapple with personally and professionally as well – what are you for?