Jill Iscol | IF Hummingbird Foundation | 27 January 2018
What keeps you up at night?
That one simple question has launched many ideas, collaborations, solutions and connections for an extraordinary group of people. Where others tear at the social fabric, they mend; where others avert their eyes from the suffering of others, they fearlessly look at the world as it is—and how it might be.
They are our Hearts on Fire visionaries.
In order to inspire people from all walks of life to join the social change movement, I wrote a book in 2011 highlighting visionary leaders from diverse social and economic backgrounds who shared one common thread—respect and reverence for the dignity of every life on the planet. As I continued to meet more of these incredible individuals, we launched Hearts On Fire to continue telling their stories online, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of compassionate citizens.
A few years later, and after many conversations with visionaries, I realized we had compiled an impressive group of leaders who, as their organizations grew, needed guidance and support. It dawned on me that there was a role for us to play in helping them build strong, viable, sustainable organizations.
I turned to my stalwart Hearts on Fire team—three young women with the intelligence, commitment, and fire to make the idea work: our Vice-Chair (my daughter), Kiva (TPW 2007 – 2008); Sara, my right hand and Executive Director of our family foundation; and Zoe, our communications manager.
Utilizing our extensive network in the social change sector, we hired a consultant to research and interview our visionaries, as well as other respected, like-minded organizations.
Our research revealed that these visionaries were facing both personal challenges as leaders and growing pains in their work that were not being addressed by the philanthropic community.
As a result, we created a strategic plan to formalize Hearts on Fire into two unique programs to support the visionaries and to continue inspiring others to participate in social change.
First, the Visionary Support Platform is tailored to each visionary’s personal needs. Kiva asks each of them a first revealing question: “What keeps you up at night?” and that is where we start.
Rather than providing direct grants to the visionaries, we provide curated technical services with vetted experts to provide the guidance and skills needed to enhance their growth. The platform also fosters collaboration among the visionaries by bringing them together for workshops, events, and conferences, or by simply connecting two visionaries who we think can help one another.
And, the Hearts on Fire Educational Initiative is a program launched in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and Skype in the Classroom to bring social change rock stars into schools to help students identify their own inner fire to #BetheSpark and make a difference in their neighborhood communities.
I am so proud of my team’s unwavering commitment to our community of visionaries and the programs we have built to help support their growth and inspire the next generation of leaders. Once a Hearts on Fire visionary, always a Hearts on Fire visionary.
Activist, educator and author, Jill Iscol, Ed.D (TPW 2001 – 2002) is president of the IF Hummingbird Foundation, a family foundation established in 1989. For the past two decades Jill has supported and participated in numerous organizations enabling them to become stable, sustainable and successful, impacting lives around the globe. Jill is a member of The Philanthropy Workshop.