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The Schimel Lode: Encouraging Innovation and Collaboration for the Public Good

About The Schimel Lode

Why Do We Call Ourselves a Lode?

A lode is a rich source or supply. Since we provide both an annual grant and free consultations for innovation and collaboration, we think we qualify. In addition, we are not typical of most sources of support. There is no staff and no office. The grant comes from a donor-advised fund. The Board provides the leadership and management as well as free consultations, as identified with our participants whom we don’t call grantees. So calling us a foundation could be misleading.

How Our Beginnings Led to Our Vision by Ruth M. Schimel

My parents, Abraham and Beatrice Schimel, devoted much of their professional lives to teaching in Harlem and the South Bronx. They understood the value of helping students know their own strengths and develop the skills needed to earn a living.

As a girl, my father taught me how to decide if a charitable cause was worthy. He would ask the following questions when people came to the door to solicit donations—though they could rarely answer them.

Photo of Beatrice and Abraham Schimel
Beatrice and Abraham Schimel, 1984

These questions helped me think about philanthropy in practical ways. By 1997, my mother and I began discussing how we could use our limited family resources to make a difference in people's lives. Contributing to organizations that served others seemed a good place to start.

Since we understood the challenges of doing such work, we often talked about how to help organizations become more effective. As a management consultant, I also questioned the value of quick-fix efforts by outsiders who give advice without involving employees and clients. Even able, paid consultants could not always provide the continuity needed for sustained improvement.

Then I got an inspiration. Everyone I knew seemed to be bombarded by requests for donations. Instead of saying “no” or just giving money, why not join with my friends and colleagues in a different way? A group of capable, caring people could work together, volunteering time and expertise. Their skills and abilities would leverage the limited funds available.

We created The Schimel Lode to:

Our goals and values continue, but our purpose has now changed because so many other sources provide similar support. According to a recent Community Foundation survey, over 50 providers offer capacity building. We therefore asked ourselves how we could use our resources to address gaps in what’s available in this area, especially during these times of constrained resources. After exploring the gaps and our Board’s interests over six months, we agreed on a new mission: encouraging innovation and collaboration for the public good.