A few words from Interim Executive Director Brian Peckrill and Board Treasurer Brian McGowan.
“As we’ve continued transitioning into a new era at the McGowan Fund, I’ve found myself reflecting on what it is we do and why we do it. There is no one better suited to answer these questions than the members of our board, who dedicate great time and energy to their communities and the legacy left by William G. McGowan. I asked Brian McGowan, board treasurer, to pen this issue’s letter and share with our audience a bit about his vision for the Fund and the current state of KC.”
—Brian Peckrill, Interim Executive Director
First off, I’d like to thank Brian for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about my work as board treasurer, as well as my hopes for how we can continue advancing the communities we live in and all care so much about. I am proud to call Kansas City home, but the truth is that KC’s economy has significantly changed in recent years. KC, like many other quintessential Midwestern cities, has seen an increase in poverty due to issues such as manufacturing jobs being outsourced abroad. This has made the Fund’s work in human services all the more crucial.
I’m proud of the support we’ve been able to give organizations such as Community LINC, which offers housing and is invaluable in uplifting individuals from poverty. By providing comprehensive support and housing stability services to families in need, Community LINC is addressing homelessness and helping families become self-sufficient. But our goal is to keep families from ever being unhoused. To achieve that, our work needs to start earlier; our giving needs to be proactive, not just reactive.
I consider myself a “quant jock,” which basically means that I champion data-driven decision-making and believe that, without data, decisions are left in an emotional void, which hurts both the Fund and the Kansas City nonprofit community. I’m deeply committed to ensuring that all those who benefit from the Fund’s grants can demonstrate tangible results with quantifiable data. My analytical lens is particularly valuable when it comes to finding potential grantee organizations. For instance, at Rockhurst High School, we were able to see through the numbers that their Hurtado Scholars Program was achieving an almost unmatched graduation rate; pre-COVID their graduation rate was 95%. They were, and still are, clearly doing something right.
We can all learn from these types of successes, especially as we’re looking to address poverty. Though the Hurtado Scholars Program works with children whose families are experiencing hardships, our hope is that we are helping to set up those students, that next generation, for a different path; we’re trying to ensure they never have to endure the types of setbacks their parents might have. This is the root of giving proactively.
All of us at the Fund care deeply for our communities and do not take lightly the opportunities we have to give to them, but it also crucial for us to back up our work with tangible results. I hope that as you continue reading, you’ll see in the interview with David J. Laughlin, president of Rockhurst High School, that caring about the numbers doesn’t make us distant, it allows us to open our hearts further. Strong numbers generate stronger grants. I’m proud of the work we do and I’m grateful for the chance to carry on the legacy of my uncle, William G. McGowan, to whom compassionate philanthropy mattered deeply.
Brian McGowan, Board Treasurer
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund