The Brown Sisters Foundation is a relatively new foundation in the St. Louis region and a new member in 2011 to the Gateway Center for Giving. The Foundation funds primarily Catholic organizations whose purpose is Catholic outreach and service to the poor, with a specific emphasis on youth, and with a heart to dignify and empower those they serve towards self-sufficiency. Their funding is leverage-based, and may take the form of a matching grant or some other form of investment that can help an organization become more sustainable, increase its impact, broaden it’s services, launch new initiatives, or expand its capacity.
In 2011, the Foundation made the following gifts:
- $50,000 matching grant to North Grand Neighborhood Services as seed money to build their new bakery.
- $50,000 matching grant to De la Salle Middle School to launch a monthly auto-gift program to strengthen their donor base and make their income stream more reliable and sustainable.
- $50,000 matching grant to Nine Network for their Youth at Risk Collective community initiative.
- $50,000 matching grant to Little Sisters of the Poor to improve their food service to residents.
The Inspiring Story of Barbara and Helen Brown
Barbara and Helen Brown were unique women who have left a legacy that will far outlive them and created an impact that extends beyond their reach to change and bless and better our world. They remain an example of stewardship, generosity, and possibility.
The Brown Sisters were born in Kentucky, to a farmer and a housewife in the mid-1920’s. They spent their working lives in the reservation department of Trans World Airlines, never making more than the modern equivalent of $30,000 per year. Both sisters were single most of their lives, attended daily mass, and were best known for their frugal nature and independent spirit. Many stories can be told about their eye for a bargain and their propensity to save a penny at every turn.
They arrived at Trinity Wealth Advisors, their first appointment with a financial advisor, in 1990 at the ages of 65 and 63 with a history of frugal living, a keen eye for the investment arena, and a history of financial accidents and successes that had amassed a small fortune. What they lacked was a clear sense of purpose and a coordinated financial effort. Over the ensuing years they saved, invested, streamlined, and stewarded their money well. At their passing in 2009, Barbara at 83 and Helen at 82, they left a $13 million estate, including a $5 million foundation in their wake.
The sisters loved to know that their money made a difference, and they loved to see it leveraged for greater good. They were most passionate about their Catholic faith and its impact in the lives of youth and those in poverty both locally and globally. The Brown Sisters Foundation is a shining example of two women who lived below their means and beyond themselves, and whose legacy and generosity will far outlive them to bring God’s touch to our world for generations.