Interview by Laura Heffron, Senior Director of Institutional Advancement
Due to COVID-19, The Elisabeth Morrow School has incurred new expenses. To help our current families who suddenly find themselves needing tuition assistance, support remote learning for students and teachers, and secure gifts for future unplanned expenses, we created The EMS Response Fund. EMS parents Jean and Frank Zhang donated a leadership gift of $100,000 to this fund. “Every time we think about those families who are experiencing difficulty – they can be friends of our kids, or in the same class – it hurts,” says Frank Zhang. Laura Heffron, Senior Director of Institutional Advancement, spoke to Zhang via video chat to learn more about his deep ties to philanthropy and the EMS community.
What inspired your lead gift to the EMS Response Fund?
This is our sixth year with EMS. My daughter started in the 3s in Chilton House and now she’s a third-grader. We are really deeply engaged and we love the school and the EMS community. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we felt so emotionally and deeply about those families who are in financial or health crises. Jean and I talked about how we can help our school and our community right now. And that’s just one part. Talking about the EMS community, we are always thinking about our faculty, staff, and administrative team. We feel they are doing an extremely nice job during this very difficult time to provide a remote learning experience and deal with their own stress.
Why do you think philanthropy is important?
I came to the United States from China in the 1990s and was fortunate to have the opportunity to build a successful business with many people’s help. That is why I feel strongly about returning to society and our local community. Philanthropy is a meaningful way for me to contribute to education and healthcare. My goals are to support their current programs and services, as well as advance their long-term objectives.
How has supporting EMS been meaningful for you and your family?
Jean and I feel deeply engaged with EMS. We really learned a lot and our children have benefited a lot over the last six years from the school. By participating with the charity for the school, we feel we are making an effort to make our school even better, and also helping other families. I also believe the learning of giving starts at a young age. We are teaching our kids about the value of giving and the importance of caring for others, which is part of our school’s 4 Cs.
How can we work together to inspire charitable giving at EMS?
I recommend that all donors to EMS, regardless of the size of their gift, go public with their donations, whether it be with families, friends, or colleagues. By demonstrating their support for EMS, they will encourage others to give too. Supporting our school is something to be proud of!
What advice can you give to individuals and families who are starting to engage in charitable giving?
I want to emphasize that nothing is small in charitable giving. You may want to start small and increase your gift over time. Philanthropy is about making charitable giving a priority in your life, remaining consistent with your donations, and committing to support over the long term.