Family embraces charitable rite of passage

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For many, rites of passage have nearly disappeared – the driver’s license being a conspicuous exception. The Jorgensen family has created and embraced one all their own.

As each of Judy and Gary Jorgensen’s grandchildren reaches age 12, he or she is invited to help recommend grants from the family’s advised fund, the Jorgensen Family Fund.

“We had two intentions in creating the fund,” said Judy, a Greater Milwaukee Foundation Board member and former chair. “First, help them develop philanthropic ideas and broaden their philanthropic vision early. Not that we were too concerned, because they all have philanthropic parents. Also, it gives them an excuse to get together at least once a year, even after we’re gone.”

Judy couldn’t be happier with the results of this new family adventure. She came prepared, grant suggestions in hand, when the family gathered to consider their first grants on the very day granddaughter Annie turned 12. “‘Well, Granny,’ they told me, ‘we came up with our own ideas.’ I thought, ‘How good is this?’” 

Five of the 11 Jorgensen grandchildren are old enough to participate in advising the fund. They’ve recommended grants to the Salvation Army to purchase toys for children, to Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County, to Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center for school programs, and to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin for Christmas food baskets.

Jorgensen is looking ahead to site visits with her grantmaking grandchildren. 

"We decided this would be more fun than a fund just for Gary and me," she said with a smile. 

Learn more about the Jorgensen family’s approach to philanthropy and why they believe it is important to join a community foundation.

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