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By Renee Skolaski, Executive Director and CEO, Help For Children | Hedge Funds Care

Renee Skolaski
Renee Skolaski

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, resulting in grants to four outstanding 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. We have active affiliates in Asia, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Within the US, 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.

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.

HFC-LOGOThe grants made by HFC 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.

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