Upon reflecting back to 1980 and my conversations with Horace Steele, little did I realize my suggestion of establishing a Foundation in his name would impact my future so deeply.
Since 1985, when the Foundation was formally endowed, it has become part of the fabric of my life and career. I am so proud to be able to share with you what the Steele Foundation has been able to accomplish over these many decades.
Steele has answered the call from countless organizations across Arizona. In the early years it was my intention to build the name of Steele and so I chose to invest in supporting capacity building predominately through capital grants. A few of the Foundation’s early partners were such names as Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix Art Museum, The Herberger Theater, The Phoenix Symphony, Desert Botanical Gardens, Arizona Science Center, Lowell Observatory, Barrow Neurological Foundation and establishing the University of Arizona’s Steele Children’s Research Center. We stretched across the state granting in an eclectic manner within the educational spectrum, to various faith communities, science and the arts. With each new grant I began to feel the depth of our impact on an organization and their sincere appreciation for support.
When you are involved with charitable work it opens up your entire world. It takes you out of day-to-day problems and helps you appreciate the blessings you have been given. Your health, your sense of security, the roof over your head, the food you eat, the teachers who have helped form you and the origins from which you came. This work has been a joy for me and most certainly has complimented my full time career in law. My love for the practice of law runs deep, it is my true calling in life; it is much more than a “job” for me. However, having the chance to found, develop and run the Steele Foundation thus adding philanthropy to my life has enhanced not only my practice and family, but also my life’s work as a whole. The Steele Foundation, the experience of the past 35 years has been one of life’s greatest gifts.
Now as Chairman of the Foundation, I have been given another wonderful gift, I have had the chance to work with my daughter, Marianne, as President. For this, I feel a true sense of accomplishment knowing my dedication will enable me to pass leadership onto the next generation. Little did I realize in 1980 the original endowment would one day be tripled and over $80 Million dollars of assistance would be granted within the state of Arizona. Our earliest partners remain dear colleagues and friends; many from the 1980’s are still current grantees and continue to do remarkable work within our community.
The Steele Foundation of today has evolved and has developed signature focus areas for our funding in Arizona. We believe all children deserve a quality education from birth through college, to live in a vibrant community and to feel safe when they go to sleep each night. These are the values of our organization and our intention is assist in improving the dire statistics that many families face. We have a long way to go in Arizona but it is our intention to continue on the path to help children of all economic backgrounds thrive to become educated, self sufficient, confident, safe and contributing members of our community.