Steven and Sally Schroeder: Family Giving in Action
Steven and Sally Schroeder at the Tiburon Library / photo by Eric Slomanson
The walls in Steven and Sally Schroeder’s book-lined living room in Tiburon are filled with framed photographs of their two grown sons, David and Alan; their daughters-in-law, Rebecca and Lindsey; and three grandchildren. They met after earning their post-graduate degrees (Steven completed his medical degree at Harvard and Sally earned a doctorate in education from Tufts University) and have lived in Tiburon since 1976.
Their success in their careers, coupled with the passing of both Steven and Sally’s parents, set them thinking. The Schroeders, who have a donor-advised fund at MCF, decided to focus on a family-based philanthropic project. “I wanted a family exercise for our children and daughters-in-law,” says Steven. “They’re parents and professionals, and we have confidence in them as equal partners.”
The Schroeders chose their fortieth wedding anniversary to announce the plan. “We had to wait until all the grandchildren were asleep,” says Sally. “And our sons weren’t on call at their hospital,” adds Steven.
Working with advisors from the Marin Community Foundation, they came up with a giving plan that includes a mix of consensus and independence in distributing grants from their donor-advised fund at the Foundation. Everyone agrees on the issue they will support, but each of the three couples makes grants in the local community where they live—Marin, Portland and Palo Alto. Plus, each year on a rotating basis, one of the couples gets to distribute 80% of the grants, with the other two donating 10% each.
Last year, the extended family contributed to "Raising a Reader," which donates books and teaches reading skills to economically disadvantaged mothers and families.
The Schroeders are convinced that family philanthropy contributes to a child’s growth. “The exercise of educating yourself about the problems in your own community, presenting your argument, and making the site visits can aid a child’s maturation,” says Steven. “And it certainly adds an extra dimension to all our lives.”
Learn more about family philanthropy by downloading the MCF Guide to Family Giving.