HFC: Profound Investments in Protecting Children

Feb 19 2016 | 8:21pm ET

Editor's note: FINalternatives is proud to support Help for Children/Hedge Funds Care (HFC) in its efforts to help prevent and treat child abuse. Founded by Rob Davis in 1998, the foundation's first event drew 400 people and raised $450,000. Today, HFC operates in 12 cities and six countries, has distributed more than $44 million in grants, and impacted the lives of some 87,000 children.

In this contributed article, HFC CEO Renee Skolaski discusses HFC's mission and this year's 18th anniversary gala, honoring former Ernst & Young senior partner Don MacNeal, on March 10, 2016 at the New York Public Library.

HFC: Profound Investments in Protecting Children

By Renee Skolaski, Executive Director and CEO

In late 1998, Rob Davis conceived of the idea of raising money in the hedge funds/alternative investment industry and making grants to organizations dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.  The first event held, with the support of Rob’s friends, colleagues and clients, attracted more than 400 people and raised close to $450,000.  

This first successful gala resulted in grants to four outstanding New York City programs dedicated to saving children from the trauma of abuse.  With this spirit of caring and determination, Help For Children was born.

Fast forward to today, and HFC is operating in 12 cities and 6 countries across 3 continents.  As a global foundation, Help For Children has active affiliates in Asia, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Within the U.S., dedicated committees of volunteers hold events and make grants in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York and San Francisco.  To date, the organization has distributed more than $44 million in grants, positively making a difference in the lives of 87,000 children and families annually.  HFC’s growth over the past 18 years speaks directly to the philanthropy of the worldwide hedge fund and alternative investment community.  Hedge funds, along with supportive services in the finance industry, have stepped forward as champions for children who need it the most – children who have no one else to stand up for them.

Child abuse is a hidden problem that cuts across all socioeconomic, racial and religious lines.  It is a problem with lifelong consequences for the children who are abused as well as future generations.  The numbers can be staggering:  

  • It is estimated that 30% of children who are abused perpetuate that abuse with their own children.
  • A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the United States; a child’s life is lost due to abuse or neglect every 5.5 hours.  This is four children EVERY day.   

The grants made by HFC provide essential funding to those organizations that provide direct services to both prevent and treat child abuse.  These grants are a direct result of the time and effort of all our volunteers in all of our locations. Through event and grant committees, our volunteers take a direct stand to help children who have been failed by the adults in their lives.  

As a collective of investment professionals, HFC’s funding model operates much like a Fund-of-Funds against child abuse.  Following a rigorous evaluation process, grantee organizations are supported and monitored to ensure that projected outcomes are met.  In providing grants to a diverse portfolio of best-in-class and innovative service providers in the field, HFC makes a profound investment in protecting children.  

In 2015, within the New York City metropolitan area, HFC distributed 35 grants totaling over $1.6 million.  Many of these grants provided direct therapeutic services to children and families to reduce trauma and manage the impact of child abuse in their lives; children were supported and counseled while parents were given the tools to identify and surmount the triggers that lead to abuse. Other grants provided prevention and education programming that speak to the urgency of teaching children and adults about recognizing signs of abuse earlier and stopping it before it occurs.  

Since joining Help For Children as executive director and CEO 9 months ago, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the HFC sites, meet their boards and committee members and visit their grantee organizations.  During all of these trips, I am repeatedly struck by the commitment of our supporters and how essential our grants are to the work done around protecting and healing abused children. What we want for these children is what we want for our own children – that they grow up safe, happy, loved and hopeful.  Together we have made great strides in accomplishing this goal but there is so much more to be done.  To extend our reach and our work, we need your help.  One way to do that is to join us in sponsoring and attending the events that are held in all of our locations, the profits of which go to grant making in these same communities. 

Here in New York, the 18th anniversary of our signature event is being held on March 10th at the New York Public Library.  As part of this year’s gala, we are proud to honor Don MacNeal for his commitment and support of the HFC mission.  A recently retired Ernst & Young senior partner and former Head of EY’s hedge fund practice, Don has 40 years of experience in the financial markets area, serving hedge funds, private equity funds, asset managers, registered funds, investment banks and public companies.  His clients have included some of the largest hedge funds, private equity and registered funds – advising from inception stage to maturity. 

Don has been an active supporter of HFC since its inception; he has served on the Board of Directors since 2010 and currently is the Board’s Treasurer. Don’s long involvement with HFC is directly tied to his desire to improve the lives of children.  He was shocked and dismayed that child abuse - the worst childhood affliction he could imagine - did not have significant support to stamp it out.  A longtime member and president of his local school board, Don firmly believes that a good education is a child’s ticket to a successful life and that education plays a major role in preventing and treating child abuse.  He found HFC to be a natural fit for his passion.

We are thrilled to honor Don and to hold the gala in the Library’s beautiful space. We hope that you will join with other leaders in New York’s financial industry to celebrate Don and the HFC work that has taken place over the past year.  Please join with HFC in our mission of preventing and treating child abuse.  It will be a wonderful evening! 

For more information about the New York gala, please visit www.hfc.org, call (212) 991 9600, ext. 345 or email Valerie Giannuzzi at vgiannuzzi@hfc.org.

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