Giving is ON GOING Award Winner- The Saigh Foundation

The Gateway Center for Giving celebrates the work of our St. Louis area grantmakers through our Excellence in Grantmaking Awards by honoring donors who fund programs, efforts, or initiatives that have made a significant impact in the region.  Over the the next few weeks we will share with the community both the winning nominations as well as some of the other great nominations that will be considered for an award in 2012. Awards will be handed out at our 2011 Annual Meeting PhilanthroPLAY which will take place at The Magic House on January 30, 2012.  Click here to register.

The Giving is ON GOING award recognizes a grantmaker who created a lasting change. There is no better way to leave a legacy than by changing the future.  This category includes either giving that spans multiple years in order to demonstrate systems change OR a grant that allowed a nonprofit to institutionalize a program that is now self supporting and providing a revenue stream for the organization.

The winner of the 2011 Giving is ON GOING award goes to The Saigh Foundation from three different nonprofit organizations.  Yes, The Saigh Foundation was nominated by a record three organizations this year including the Saint Louis Zoo, Webster University, and Wyman Center.

Saint Louis Zoo’s Nomination
The Saint Louis Zoo is proud to nominate the Saigh Foundation for the Gateway Center for Giving Excellence in Grantmaking Award in the Ongoing Giving category.  In its relatively short giving history, the Saigh Foundation has a truly made its mark in the St. Louis community and particularly at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The Saigh Foundation first became involved with the Saint Louis Zoo in 2002 with a $250,000 gift to the Saint Louis Zoo 2004: Gateway to the Animal World campaign for the African Wildlife Conservation School in the River’s Edge.  The Foundation then gave a major  gift in May 2007 to the Saint Louis Zoo Endowment Trust which established the first endowed position at the Saint Louis Zoo, appropriately named the “Fred Saigh Curator of the Children’s Zoo”.   Alice Seyfried currently serves in this inaugural position and is a wonderful ambassador for the Zoo as well as the Saigh name.  The Foundation’s tremendous generosity and leadership has inspired others to support the Zoo, its endowment, and The Living Promise Campaign, an initiative to raise $120 million in capital and endowment dollars.  The Saigh Foundation is a stellar example of philanthropy at its best.  The relationship between the Foundation and the Zoo continues to grow and we are pleased to have them as part of the Zoo family.

The Saigh Foundation was created by Fred M. Saigh to serve as a legacy of the gifts he gave throughout his lifetime to the community of St. Louis, Missouri. Fred Saigh was known as an extraordinarily generous man. He touched the lives of many people he barely knew by sensing their need for assistance and offering help at critical times in their lives. He often gave anonymously, without a thought of seeking anything in return. Some have described him as a lifesaver. Mr. Saigh saw many acquaintances become life-long friends, friends who believe he changed their lives for the better as a result of his generosity and care.

The Saigh Foundation mission is to enhance the quality of life in the St. Louis metropolitan region through support for charitable projects and initiatives which primarily benefit children and youth through education and health care. They have certainly done so with their gifts to the Saint Louis Zoo.  Many thousands of children are transformed each year by visits to the Saint Louis Zoo and the Children’s Zoo in particular.  The Saigh Foundation is ensuring that this gift of education for the St. Louis community will continue on for many generations to come.

Webster University’s Nomination
The timely and generous support of the Saigh Foundation has created lasting change at Webster University by allowing us to institutionalize our Student Literacy Corps and position the program to broaden both its capacity and its base of philanthropic support.

Through Webster University’s Student Literacy Corps (SLC), faculty from the School of Education train University students to tutor struggling readers at schools and social service agencies throughout the region.  The mission of the SLC is to assist readers with low literacy levels and to provide University students with a sense of the difference they can make in the lives of others.

In 2003, the Student Literacy Corps was not well known to the trustees of the Saigh Foundation. At our initial meeting however, it became evident that, through the Foundation’s long involvement with issues impacting the lives of children, JoAnn understood only too well the challenges faced by students who struggle to read. She recognized immediately the effectiveness of a program model that places college students one-on-one with struggling readers for an entire school year, allowing them to develop strong bonds of trust that elicit extraordinary levels of effort from young readers.

At this time, the SLC program was at a critical point in its development. It was operating at maximum capacity, with one part-time director to recruit, train, and supervise upwards of 25 students each semester at 10-15 different sites. While demand for SLC tutors continued to accelerate, we could not place more students without endangering the program’s overall quality.

The Saigh Foundation made an extremely generous first-time grant to the SLC in the 2003-2004 academic year that allowed us to improve the training regimen for our tutors and expand the director position into a fulltime, annual appointment. This grant increased the program’s impact and positioned it to garner a federal funding commitment which covered the program’s expenses from 2005 -2007. During this time, the Foundation remained engaged with the SLC’s progress.

In 2008, when federal funding came to an end, the Saigh Foundation stepped back in – this time with funding for tutor stipends and teaching supplies. The program’s ability to demonstrate that the Saigh Foundation, its primary supporter in the private philanthropic community, remained committed was instrumental in cementing its future at the University. In 2009, Webster institutionalized the SLC Director position, transforming it from an annual appointment to permanent fulltime status. The position is now funded jointly through the School of Education and the office of Student Affairs in recognition of the value that the SLC experience provides for Webster students.

Today, the Saigh Foundation continues to partner with the Student Literacy Corps by providing funding for student tutors. Among those tutors are a number of Webster’s international students. These international tutors often choose to work at schools with high numbers of immigrant families where they serve as role models as well as reading tutors.  Through their experience, each of our tutors learns about themselves and the difference they can make in the lives of children; in this way they advance the mission of Saigh Foundation and honor the legacy of Fred Saigh.

The support of the Saigh Foundation has sustained and helped to shape the Student Literacy Corps over the course of eight years. Webster University is privileged to partner with them and proud to celebrate the impact of their enduring commitment to the children of St. Louis through the Student Literacy Corps.

Wyman Center’s Nomination
Since 2005, The Saigh Foundation has provided consistent and substantial support to young people in St. Louis through an endowment gift to Wyman. This gift provides perpetual scholarships to two young people through Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program (TLP) from eighth grade through high school graduation and established the Fred Saigh Young Leaders Award which provides a $1,000 aid scholarship, each year, to a young person in TLP who has most consistently demonstrated over the program the following attributes: determination and hard work to achieve goals, outstanding service to others, and commitment to personal responsibility in life.

Also from the endowment, in 2010, The Saigh Foundation and Wyman held the first Saigh Symposium – an annual event dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expertise of nationally recognized youth development experts with parents, practitioners and community leaders in the St. Louis area. The goal is to raise awareness of youth development on a broad scale, drawing attendance from national as well as regional and local organizations. Topics may include an update on the latest research on adolescent brain development, best practices in the field of youth development or the importance of the quality supports and opportunities that we as a community need to provide in order to successfully develop the potential of our young people.

Additionally, the foundation’s most recent contribution in 2011, will go to provide college access programming, called Wyman Prep, for the over 450 young people in Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program.

Congratulations to The Saigh Foundation and thank you to the Saint Louis Zoo, Webster University, and Wyman Center for taking the time to nominate them!

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