Donor Profile

Family foundation partners with Bread & Roses to grant $785,000 since 2000

Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative committee members (left to right): Tyson Smith, Phoebe Edalatpour, Zoe Edalatpour, Shelley Smith, Dana Valentine (in front), Mary Kuhn, Miles Smith, and Pat Clark. Not pictured: Lori Pompa.

On Phoebe Valentine’s 50th birthday, she called together 10 friends and gave them each $5,000 to give away. “They called it the birthday project,” recalls Phoebe’s longtime friend Mary Kuhn. Although Phoebe passed away in 1996, “it was her hope that her children would become interested in philanthropy, and they did,” says Kuhn.

In 2000, Phoebe’s family sought Bread & Roses’ help in administering their family foundation. Phoebe’s children decided to focus their grantmaking on a neglected area, criminal justice reform, and they partnered with Bread & Roses to create the Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative to meet that need.

Since then, 66 organizations working to change the criminal justice system have received grants totaling $785,000 through the Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative. Bread & Roses provides all administrative support, but decisions on grants are made jointly by family members and criminal justice reform activists. Noting the increase in applications over the years, Phoebe’s daughter Dana Valentine says, “We’re the go-to funders. We’ve consistently funded this for a while now and we’ve seen organizations in all different phases of their development.”

In November, Johns “Doc” Hopkins, Phoebe’s husband at the time of her death, passed away. Kuhn describes him as being a guiding spirit for the Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative. “Doc didn’t have a closed mind to anything,” remembers his stepdaughter Dana Valentine. After Phoebe’s death, Doc married Mary Hopkins, who notes, “As the children have grown, Doc’s joy really came from seeing their participation and from them showing such a commitment.”

The Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative is a very unique partnership. “We’ve been really happy focusing on systemic change rather than direct service,” says Kuhn, who is a trustee. “We also hoped that it would become a model for other small trusts and funders to join with Bread & Roses.” That hope is already being realized, with the Saba Chai Five Family Foundation partnering with Bread & Roses in 2012 to grant $40,000 through the Latino Organizing Fund.