A Year of Bridging Highlights from 2017 | GHR Foundation

From the CEO & Chair:

Building a bridge creates connections. Whether it’s collaborating across industries or finding commonalities among people, bridging always brings new possibility and energy.

The challenges our world faces today are complex. From conflict to inequality to disease, these issues stretch beyond borders and across cultures, demanding our collective attention, collaboration and best thinking to overcome them. Sometimes, connections are obvious. More often, the bridges that bring us closer to impact require creativity and innovation.

In Uganda—a country with an estimated 50,000 children living in institutions—we’re building a bridge between two of our global development initiatives. After finding Catholic sisters were well positioned to realize the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children, our Sister Support initiative worked to inform their Catholic tradition of care with insights from contemporary research gathered by our Children in Families initiative. Already, that bridge is bringing us closer to a Uganda where children are living in families or family-like environments.

In Myanmar—where persistent poverty and natural disasters caused by climate change both pose a threat—we’re supporting BioCarbon Engineering as they build a bridge between the dual challenges of environmental degradation and poverty in five coastal communities. One of our 2017 BridgeBuilder Top Ideas, Biocarbon Engineering is using drones to plant a million mangrove trees that will restore fisheries and protect coastlines, growing the local economy while building a barrier against environmental disasters.

At GHR, we prioritize learning and listening. We find every opportunity to cross-pollinate among people, places, ideas and solutions, leveraging expertise and boosting innovation. By embracing the complexity of our world’s most pressing challenges and thinking creatively to find solutions, we’re finding new ways to increase our impact.

We can’t wait to see where these bridges will take us.


Amy R. Goldman, GHR Foundation CEO & Chair

GHR Foundation improves lives by working toward a just, peaceful, healthy future. GHR is pioneering design-build philanthropy to create change with our partners around the world in the areas of global development, education and health.

In 2017, GHR Foundation awarded more than $24.1 million in grants.

{Global Development}

Applying global evidence-based and local solutions to complex challenges.

Children in Families

19 grantees ● 3+ countries ● $4.4 million

Highlight | Cross-Initiative Collaboration in Uganda

GHR Foundation's Children in Families funding supports child protection interventions that strengthen families, respond to children without family care and drive further evidence of innovative approaches. ​In Uganda, GHR found Catholic sisters are well-positioned to realize the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and children living outside of family care by combining the Catholic tradition of care with insights from contemporary research.

When the Ugandan parliament passed progressive legislation in 2016 to ensure better outcomes for children living outside of family care, Catholic sisters stepped up and championed reform. With guidance and funding from GHR, Catholic Care for Children in Uganda—part of the Association of Religious in Uganda—is leading the way toward a 'family-like environment for every child.' In its first nine months, the organization 'won hearts and minds,' helping hundreds of Catholic leaders and administrators from care institutions understand the new legislation and embrace an alternative care framework. Phase one of Catholic Care for Children in Uganda is well underway. Of the seventy Catholic brothers and sisters slated for social work training, the first 22 successfully completed their first semester in May. More than a hundred people have taken intensive courses on child protection and a high-quality child protection policy has been adopted by the Association of Religious in Uganda.

Catholic Care for Children in Uganda leadership is planning for phase two, during which it will help the congregations responsible for 46 Catholic care institutions implement pilot efforts to move from institutionalized care to community- or family-based care. These efforts will lay the groundwork for a larger movement toward the alternative care framework. Catholic Care for Children in Uganda is an exciting cross-initiative collaboration, advancing the goals of both our Sister Support Initiative and our Children in Families initiative. Through this collaboration, we are strengthening Ugandan congregations in ways that ultimately benefit children. By sharing expertise and thinking outside the box, we can find new impact.

Looking Forward | Reaching Christian Funders of Orphanages

In 2018, GHR’s Children in Families initiative will fund a grant to the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO)—a coalition of faith-based organizations focused on orphan ministries—to examine the issue of transformational change in children’s care around the world. CAFO plans to support members embracing family-based care as early adopters, develop programming standards for member organizations and provide guidance for members on short-term missions and expanding the continuum of care.

Inter-Religious Action

11 grantees ● 4+ countries ● $3.2 million

Highlight | GHR Supports Youth Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

GHR Foundation's Inter-Religious Action funding works to improve development outcomes, build lasting community connections and advance peace by mobilizing religious leaders and communities to address common challenges. ​In 2017, GHR had the honor of supporting the second annual dialogue between youth leaders from conflict-ridden countries and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Organized by the United States Institute for Peace, the program aims to assist some of the world's most effective young peace builders by learning from the Dalai Lama and acquiring practical skills to foster peace and resilience in their home countries.

The 25 participants in the program included a human rights and development advocate from Myanmar; the leader of a peace building NGO in Iraq’s Kurdistan region; a young Sudanese physician working with people displaced by warfare; a former child soldier, now an actor and model working with the UNHCR to promote the understanding of displaced people worldwide; an American specialist in neuroscience and pharmacology who leads a foundation named for his six-year-old daughter, who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut; a women’s development activist from Nigeria; and other journalists and human rights activists.

Through dialogues with the Dalai Lama and local youth spanning the role of spiritual values in peace building, prejudice and extremism in conflict, effective interfaith engagement and more, the participants emerged with new tools for transforming their communities. The program also provides these leaders with a global platform for the advocacy of youth priorities in peace and security. GHR is proud to support these young leaders in their efforts to broaden and deepen their impact, and we look forward to witnessing the change the bring to their home countries.

Looking Forward | Building the Case for Inter-Religious Action

In 2018, GHR’s Inter-Religious Action grantmaking will address a key gap in the field—a shortage of research that justifies the value of inter-religious action in development programs or demonstrates how to best apply inter-religious methodologies. Bridging faith actors and development organizations has the potential to provide the necessary evidence to justify investments and catalyze sustainable social change. Grants to Search for Common Ground, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and the African Council of Religious Leaders will enable these organizations to bridge assessment and practice, test new tools for assessing change and build cohesive approaches to engaging faith actors.

Sister Support

11 grantees ● 3+ countries ● $2.8 million

Highlight | A Report on International Sisters in the United States

GHR Foundation's Sister Support initiative seeks to ensure a vital future for Catholic sisters, marked by congregations that are well-led, well-resourced and powerful in spiritual witness and service. Catholic sisters have always crossed boundaries between countries and cultures, but as congregations become increasingly diverse, we recognize the need for more knowledge and collaboration. In 2017, GHR commissioned ‘International Sisters in the United States,’ the first national study on the 4,000 international sisters living in the United States.

With our support, researchers from Trinity Washington University and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University explored the experiences and contributions of international sisters, and shared results at convenings in Washington D.C. and Rome. The first-of-its-kind study is gaining traction and opening a new dialogue on the challenges faced by international sisters, as well as the benefits of growing diversity. The report and a study guide is available in English and Spanish.

Since the launch of the study, lead researcher Sister Mary Johnson has reported on the findings in many places, including the University of Notre Dame and the Association of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland in Dublin. The issue of Catholic sisters moving between countries is not unique to the United States—the insights in this report apply to women's religious life globally. To continue this conversation, GHR and the International Union of Superiors General hosted a convening in Rome. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the research and use it as a starting point as they consider its implications in their home countries.

Looking Forward | Growing Networks of Young Sisters

In 2018, we expect to see networks of young Catholic sisters deepen and grow. With support from GHR, more than 500 young sisters in the United States have employed new skills in their congregations and ministries acquired through the Congregational Leadership Development Program. These sisters used the training as an opportunity to build bridges, connecting with others in their congregations and beyond to create peer networks for spiritual development, moral support and ongoing education. The dynamic alumnae network includes members of the Sisters of Mercy, the Benedictine Federation, the Dominicans and the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and many other congregations. Over the course of the next year, these sisters will meet in person and online to deepen relationships and commitments to the future of women’s religious life.


Bridging gaps and building strong educational communities.

Catholic Schools

21 grantees ● Twin Cities, MN ● $3.1 million

Highlight | Innovation in School Leadership

GHR Foundation's Catholic Schools funding works to ensure Twin Cities’ urban Catholic schools are faith-filled, academically excellent educational communities that prepare children to be college-ready, productive citizens. In 2017, GHR partnered with the Healey Education Foundation in New Jersey to support the implementation of Healey’s unique governance model for Catholic schools in the Twin Cities. The model strengthens leadership and seeks to boost the fundraising capacity and marketing skills of schools with the goal of establishing financial sustainability within three years.

Looking Forward | Bridging Grade Schools with Higher Education

In 2018, GHR will be partnering with the University of Notre Dame to support the implementation of the ‘Blended Learning’ model in five Catholic grade schools in the Twin Cities over the next three years. Blended Learning is a curriculum tool harnessing technology and traditional classroom methods to tailor instruction for each individual student. Because core subjects become highly personalized, blended learning allows for instructors to meet each child where they are, helping them master each concept before moving on to the next. This method is effective in closing the achievement gap and helping students excel in core subjects, and we expect the project to increase academic growth for low-income students while increasing student agency.

Higher Education

3 grantees ● United States ● $5 million

Highlight | A Transformational Gift to Students

GHR Foundation's Higher Education funding promotes innovative, values-based Catholic education that creates positive transformation in individuals, communities and the world. Education is a powerful tool for changing lives and strengthening communities—the education our founders received shaped them, and we continue their commitment to providing hope and opportunity through education by investing in innovative, values-based institutions.

In 2017, the University of St. Thomas announced a scholarship drive to infuse $200 million into support for students over the next eight years. GHR Foundation committed $50 million as the lead gift. With GHR’s gift, St. Thomas is establishing GHR Fellows, a pre-eminent four-year endowed scholarship program for business majors. This highly competitive program is designed to attract future business leaders who embody the mission of the university and model GHR values: globally-minded, ethics-oriented changemakers who seek to create enduring value for society.

Each year, fifteen GHR Fellows will be selected to receive full tuition for four years, as well as additional enriched program that will help the university recruit and retain excellent students who might not otherwise have access to such an opportunity. GHR Foundation believes education can transform an individual as it did Gerry Rauenhorst, one of our founders, a first-generation college student and a St. Thomas alum. We are proud to help students be principled leaders who think critically, work skillfully and act wisely to advance the common good.

Looking Forward | Results from a Multi-Year Grant to St. Kate’s

In 2018, GHR’s Higher Education initiative expects initial results from the first year of an $18 million multi-year grant to the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University. The grant supports the educational areas of global health, primary care and long-term care/senior living. We expect to receive initial results from these efforts that were launched in 2017, which included enriched instruction, deepened research and student participation in global clinics, all of which will contribute to better prepared graduates and ultimately higher-quality patient care.


Funding research to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Prevention

4 grantees ● United States & Global ● $3.3 million

Highlight | A4 Study Enrollment

GHR Foundation is joining forces with industry, other philanthropic partners and the United States National Institutes of Health on a game-changing undertaking–the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. 2017 saw the completion of enrollment in the A4 Study, led by Dr. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University. Research from the A4 Study will determine the effectiveness of prevention therapy before Alzheimer's disease impacts the brain, working toward FDA approval for the general population by 2022.

Looking Forward | A Framework for Prevention

In 2018, the National Institutes of Health is planning to change the fundamental definition of Alzheimer’s Disease. Rather than rely on a symptomatic diagnosis, the new research framework will define Alzheimer’s Disease based on the underlying pathology of plaques and tangles. The new NIH framework was developed by GHR partners at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard University and the Alzheimer’s Association, and will be an important step in moving the field toward early diagnosis and prevention therapies.

{BridgeBuilder Challenge}

GHR Foundation and partner OpenIDEO are conducting three BridgeBuilder challenges, each of which distributes $1 million among several ideas that address urgent global challenges in radically new ways.

In 2017, GHR Foundation launched its global BridgeBuilder Challenge and gathered more than 650 ideas representing participants from 185 countries. The first of three annual open innovation challenges, BridgeBuilder leveraged the universal call from Pope Francis to ‘build bridges’ addressing the pressing and emergent concerns of our time in the areas of peace, prosperity and planet.

With this program, GHR—in collaboration with OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform—is seeking out and investing in organizations developing solutions for the global good. Stemming from our founders’ values, the challenge aims to support new and innovative projects that respond to urgent needs in the United States and around the world. The top ideas selected from the challenge each received a share of $1 million in funding, in addition to support provided by our experts. All participants benefit from the platform's collaborative improvement process and opportunities for connection to new partners and potential funders.

2017 Top Ideas

{Our Board}

GHR Foundation's board of directors does more than carry out legal and fiduciary responsibilities and oversee grant making—our board members drive results that improve lives and build a better future for all.

In 2017, several members of the GHR board and committees accompanied GHR staff on a site visit to Cambodia, where they had opportunities to meet with grantee partners, the families they serve and community and government representatives working with vulnerable children. Participants witnessed the work of our partners first-hand and engaged in conversations on family care. Our visit allowed us to deepen our understanding of the challenge, strengthen our relationships and offer personal support to those working to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Cambodia.

2017 GHR board members:

Amy Rauenhorst Goldman - Chief Executive Officer & Chair, GHR Foundation

Sister Carol Keehan - President & CEO, Catholic Health Association

Win Neuger - Managing Partner, Mount Curve Partners

Joe Rauenhorst - Chief Executive Officer, Charter School Properties, Inc.

Mark Rauenhorst - President, Marren Properties

Timothy A. Welsh - Vice Chairman, U.S. Bank

Kristine Widmer - Chair, Opus Foundation

Remembering Peter Karoff

It was with a heavy heart that GHR lost board member and friend Peter Karoff.

Peter was a longtime friend of GHR and a leading contributor to the world of philanthropy. Inspired by the idea of strategic philanthropy and thinking creatively to increase the impact of philanthropy on society, he founded The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) in 1989. TPI is now a pioneer non-profit consulting firm and a leading influence of thought in philanthropy. Many of Peter’s revolutionary ideas are captured in his book, The World We Want: New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change.

Peter played a key role in establishing the Rauenhorst family foundations—an accomplishment he took great pride in—and was instrumental in the founding and shaping of GHR's vision of improving lives by working towards a just, peaceful, healthy future. Peter’s decades of contributions as a board member and advisor cannot be overstated—he was exemplary, and we take great joy in having dedicated the Karoff study at our offices in his name.

An avid poet and a master of words, Peter’s poetic approach to life and philanthropy is a true testament that philanthropy and social change is an art form—​one that he mastered and taught. GHR sends our thoughts and prayers to Peter’s family. We celebrate his life and the legacy he helped create at GHR and many other foundations.

Thank you!

To learn more about GHR Foundation, visit our website. If you have further questions, we'd love to connect!

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