Nancy Jacobs and Mark Sandercott grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, respectively. Nancy and Mark met in the early 1980s, when they each moved to the Twin Cities in pursuit of new goals and opportunities. Their shared Midwestern values, delight in the great outdoors and a genuine enjoyment of people, fueled their desire to spend time together pursuing their passions. Through community volunteering, they discovered a joy that ignited their friendship into a relationship of mutual love and commitment that extended beyond them. The couple complemented one another’s dreams and visions, which sparked creative ways to give back to their local community and to humanity.

Global philanthropy seeds planted

Mark and Nancy’s interests in global philanthropy began as a result of their opportunities to travel and volunteer in economically developing nations across the globe. This focus deepened when they realized through their own early life family experiences, and later raising children, and Nancy’s inner city work as a family educator, the undeniable level and quantity of need for youth development opportunities and stabilizing support to families. By the early 2000’s the seeds of their philanthropy were planted, and they began to expand their catalytic visions for something more.

Reflectively, the founders asked themselves questions such as, “What if…?” and “Could we actually…?” In 2003, with the encouragement of family and friends, the help of professionals with“how to” knowledge, and their own convictions, they birthed Sundance Family Foundation. After preliminary creative work and exploration, Nancy and Mark began to assemble a small, diverse and talented board of directors from an array of capable people from the community—an unusual course of action for a private family foundation. For two years, the Sundance board met energetically for monthly board meetings, committee meetings, attended workshops, gained support from experts and read copiously to achieve the insight and education necessary to define and refine the essence of Sundance Family Foundation.

Today, Mark and Nancy, their board of directors and staff continue to discover that the unique opportunities inherent in the design of the foundation give liberation to innovate, design and be first responders, connectors and collaborators in many philanthropic ways. Without prescribed philanthropic interest areas and goals passed down through generational legacy, and no competing interests from present day constraints, this nimble family foundation has had  unmitigated freedom to explore and implement their most authentic goals and passions.

Having the opportunity to implement their Foundation’s vision, the Founders encourage hands-on meaningful community board engagement.  The information and vibrant discussions by all allows the Sundance Family Foundation leadership to stay innovative, with an ear to the ground, staying abreast of trending changes in youth, families, philanthropy, impact investing and transformational economics.

Why Youth Social Entrepreneurship?

Nancy and Mark feel fortunate to be aligned with dozens of successful youth and family-enhancing programs, as well as colleges, funders, advocates and researchers who support the expanding and successful efforts of Youth Social Entrepreneurship. Programmatically, each YSE or family-stabilizing organization funded by Sundance functions to create hope for the future of youth development and strong families. Through critical first-step opportunities, youth and families are advancing themselves out of generational poverty.  Time and again YSE program evaluation reveals that as youth receive support to discover their own voice, and grow their intuitive spark, families and communities also become stronger and more empowered.

Why the name Sundance Family Foundation?

Mark and Nancy, through  Sundance Family Foundation support programs which aspire to serve others with a vision: to assist more youth and families in the universal right to “walk, run, and dance in the sunlight” of their own lives. Their logo, a vibrantly-colored sun, whose rays can also be construed as a moving footprint, capture the essence of their brand, vision, ethics and beliefs.

What does the future hold for the Sundance Family Foundation?

The Foundation is known as a thought leader and a catalytic connector in the field of YSE. Sundance has commissioned academic research looking at commonalities, outcomes, and youth engagement, analyzing data from YSE programs across the nation.

They partner with local universities to develop entrepreneurial workshops on relevant topics that speak to youth such as entrepreneurial  thinking, development of managerial skills, design ideation, networking and interpersonal development. Sundance, along with youth and leaders from YSE organizations, is developing a Twin Cities Youth Social Entrepreneurship Collaborative. The collaborative members meets on a regular basis, gaining access to innovative speakers and workshops on relevant topics that speak to youth who have been less advantaged. They also gain entrepreneurial tools (research and evaluation methods), connections, and interpersonal development.

Impact Investing

The Foundation has committed 85% of their corpus to Socially Responsible Investing, harnessing and deploying capital using ESG screens in an effort to align their investments with their ethics. Many of these values oriented ESG screened funds bring capital to and create loan opportunities for community social development and renovation projects around the world–in an effort to do good for more.

For more information on Sundance’s Socially Responsible Investing go here.