Local Family Awards $600,000 in Grants to Help End Generational Poverty in Central Oklahoma

Rees family watches a mother push her daughter on a swing in the park
Ken Rees and daughter Susan Wright look on as a recent ReMerge graduate plays with her daughter. The Rees family uses their advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to award multi-year grants to organizations like ReMerge that are working to end generational poverty in central Oklahoma. (Photo by Brandon Snider)

Oklahoma City-area philanthropists Ken and Gae Rees and family recently awarded $600,000 in grants from their donor advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to two local organizations with programs that aim to end generational poverty in central Oklahoma.

Through the Ken and Gae Rees Family Fund, the family awarded a three-year $500,000 grant to Parent Promise for an in-home family support program designed to work with overburdened families who are at risk for child abuse and neglect. Originally the Exchange Club Center, Parent Promise has been helping at-risk families in Oklahoma County build resiliency and improve their education and employment situations for 30 years.

“The generosity of the Rees Family has allowed our organization to increase the number of children and families we serve and improve the effectiveness of our home-based parent support program,” said Sherry Fair, executive director of Parent Promise. “With the variety of programs we now offer, we can better meet the needs of more families and help more children break out of the vicious cycle of poverty on their journey to adulthood.”

In addition, the Rees family awarded a two-year $100,000 grant to Bridges of Norman to support a diversion and intervention program for students who are at risk for homelessness. For 20 years, Bridges has been helping teens in central Oklahoma complete high school and transition into contributing members of their community.

A graduate of Edmond Public Schools, Ken Rees and his wife, Gae, have helped launch and grow several community organizations including the Edmond Public Schools Foundation and the Edmond Fine Arts Institute. They established their advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 2003 to construct a model of giving for their family. In 2013, they launched a competitive grant process to award multi-year grants to charitable organizations working to break the cycle of generational poverty in central Oklahoma. Previously, the family awarded grants to the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County and ReMerge Oklahoma.

“Our family decided long ago the focus of our giving would be to make a difference for those children and families who seemed to be trapped in poverty for more than one generation,” said Ken Rees. “We know that our efforts can only begin to make a difference, but we hope they may highlight successful strategies that more can get behind.”

“The Rees family is just one example of how the Community Foundation can help connect donors to causes they care about,” said Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. “This generous family had a vision of how they wanted to help their community. We were honored to provide a charitable vehicle that helps them accomplish that.”

Steven C. Agee Named Chairman; New Trustees, Staff Join Community Foundation

Dr. Steven C. Agee

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of Leigh Ann Albers, David J. Feroli and Christin V. Mugg to its board of Trustees, as well as new staff Jennifer Meckling, Rachel Mouton and Laura Moon. In addition, Dr. Steven C. Agee assumed the role of board chairman.

Dean of Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, Agee has served as an Oklahoma City Community Foundation Trustee since 2012. Agee replaces Bond Payne as chairman, who served two years and will remain on the board as a Trustee.

As chairman, Agee will direct a 15-member board comprised of local civic and business leaders. The board governs the policies, administration, activities and grant decisions of the Community Foundation, which administers more than 1,600 charitable endowments and is ranked as one of the nation’s largest community foundations.

“I’m honored and delighted to have a leadership role with this organization at such a distinctive time,” said Agee. “In 2019, the Community Foundation will celebrate 50 years as our community’s area resource for charitable giving. I look forward to being a part of this momentous celebration and to help continue their tradition of excellence.”

Albers, Feroli and Mugg Join Board of Trustees

Albers has served on the Community Foundation’s iFund committee for the past five years and is active with many charitable organizations throughout the community. A civic leader, Feroli is a certified public accountant and retired partner of the international accounting firm KPMG LLP. Mugg is a partner at Mugg, Scott and Winston, a local estate planning firm, and has directed her clients to the Community Foundation for charitable giving for many years. Retiring Trustees Leslie Hudson and Tony Tyler completed nine-year terms June 30, 2018.

Staff Welcomes Meckling, Mouton and Moon

Meckling joins the staff as the new charitable organization endowment program director, where she will help organizations establish and grow their endowment fund at the Community Foundation. Previously, Meckling held the role as director of community engagement for the Oklahoma Center of Nonprofits.

Meckling will be assisted by Mouton as charitable organization endowment administrator. In addition, Mouton will manage GiveSmartOKC.org, an online tool used by donors and funders to learn more about local nonprofits. Mouton comes to the Community Foundation after spending several years working for The Little Light House in Tulsa.

Moon joins the Oklahoma City Community Foundation as coordinator for the development and donor services team. She began her career at various Oklahoma City nonprofit organizations and brings her expertise in relationship management to support donor service efforts for the Community Foundation.

“We are thrilled to enhance our organization with these staff and Trustee additions as we near our golden anniversary,” says President Nancy B. Anthony. “They are crucial to helping us serve our donors and the community.”