Knowledge Center

Banking on KC - Drew Eanes of The Hadley Project

Listen Now, or read the transcript below:

Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking On KC. I'm your host, Kelly Scanlan. Thank you for joining us. With us on this episode is Drew Eanes. Drew is a senior client solutions manager at JE Dunn. However, community work is a major focus of the time Drew spends outside of his corporate job. Today he's here to talk about that work and in particular, the Hadley Project, which he co-founded in January, 2021. Welcome, Drew.

Drew Eanes:

Thank you for having me.

Kelly Scanlon:

What is the Hadley Project, and how is its philanthropic approach different?

Drew Eanes:

The Hadley Project is a six million dollar independent fund focused around racial, social, and environmental equity. So we started in 2021 with a generous grant from the Sunderland Foundation, and we've been able to create our own independent board, initiatives and model to really shake up philanthropy here in Kansas City and provide solutions that haven't been done before.

And so we're looking at doing a lot of things differently in terms of not only how we give grants out in terms of our trust-based approach, but also internally with our board. I'm a person of color and there's five of us on the board. There aren't many people historically who have had the opportunity to sit on a board like this where they're giving grants out into the community. And so having a seat at the table has provided a lot of relationships and different thought processes in terms of how to go about philanthropy. And that's not just me, but all five of us are in agreement that we want to do things differently. And so this is a experiment, if you will, to test that model out and see where it goes.

Kelly Scanlon:

What is it that prompted this? I mean, was there a moment, was there a situation, and especially when there's so many co-founders involved, what was it that pulled you together and made you decide that this is something that needed to be pursued?

Drew Eanes:

So the original board, which is five of us, consists of three members of the Sutherland family, who I had the opportunity to grow up with, myself and Denise St. Omer. And we noticed that there was a need that needed to be shifted in terms of philanthropy and how to give money to the community. And a lot of that happened in 2020, obviously with the culmination of a lot of events from the pandemic to racial issues that I hadn't seen in my lifetime. And so there needed to be a change. And so the Sunderland family, the kids at the time who were finding their voice on the Sutherland Foundation Board realized that the organization has done a lot of great things for this community for a long time. But in terms of being intent on focusing around racial, social and environmental equity, there hadn't been a organization that was solely focused on that. And so this was an opportunity to do that.

And we made an ask for six million dollars, and we were fortunate enough to get that, and we hit the ground running in the beginning of 2021. And here we are at the end of 2022, we're partnered with close to 35 if not more organizations, grassroot organizations led by people of color in our community, and it's been quite the ride.

Kelly Scanlon:

So when you say you invest into the community via grants that you distribute, are you giving those grants to the 35 organizations that you just mentioned? And what kind of organizations are they? Give us some examples.

Drew Eanes:

Yes. So we're giving unrestricted grants for a three year timeline. So one of the issues that these grassroots organizations told us upfront was that it's hard to be on the phone every month or every year trying to get new grants. And so what we wanted to do is provide unrestricted grants, whether it was paying your light bills, programming, hiring. It wasn't up to us, it was up to the organizations that knew more than we did about the solutions that they're trying to solve to do something about it. And so we wanted to give them the leeway, three years at least, of funding to hit the ground running. Some of the organizations, all of them are around equity, right? Increasing opportunities for people, but educational opportunities such as teachers like me or Latin Education Collaborative, where both organizations respectively are trying to recruit brown teachers of color or black teachers of color, I can certainly relate to that. When I moved here in 1994, I didn't have one African American teacher growing up. So if you don't have somebody to look at, why would you want to be a teacher? So that's one example.

Sankofa KC, this is a gentleman, David Muhammad, I talked to him last week, he just received another $30,000 grant outside of the Hadley Project. This gentleman runs a martial arts studio, and he developed the Sankofa Leadership Academy. What the Sankofa Leadership Academy is is it provides students, white, black, brown, male, female to develop their leadership skills within the martial arts realm. So he's teaching these kids leadership skills that you need, not just about martial arts, how to be accountable for other people. And eventually when these students graduate from their program, they're able to teach these classes and get paid. And it's invaluable what you can do when you give kids an opportunity to succeed. So we talked about kids, but we're also working with some larger, maybe more well known organizations in the community, AdHoc Group of Crime, the Urban League of Kansas City, which just received a million dollar grant last week in terms of all sorts of initiatives from workforce development, creating jobs, and just providing more opportunity to areas that historically haven't had that opportunity.

Kelly Scanlon:

Your influence extends beyond the funding into other areas of needs for the grantees. Talk to us about that.

Drew Eanes:

Money is one thing, but building that sense of community is more. And we've really gotten to try to know all of these organizations as people rather than just what their core mission is. So putting on happy hours or events where we can collaborate with a lot of our grantees has been powerful, and it's created other opportunities for them. Money is a catalyst to do a lot of things, but building that sense of networking and community, and tying these individuals into other organizations that can help solve their issues is something I see, not just from a Hadley Project perspective, but from a Kansas City perspective. The opportunities are endless.

If we can help tie one of our organizations to the local Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce for some programming, or if we can tie them to the corporate world, as we've been fortunate enough to do with JE Dunn with a couple of our grantees, which creates grants, it creates jobs. I think Kansas City has a big heart. And so what we're trying to do is tie in all those people with all of those big hearts and see how can we work together to solve a lot of the issues that are pertinent in our society right now.

Kelly Scanlon:

As I mentioned, you work at JE Dunn, and I know that they're very philanthropic as well. How are they involved with the types of work that you do in the community?

Drew Eanes:

One of my favorite parts of working at JE Dunn is their sense of community. We pride ourselves as a community builder, and what that means is we take it to heart to solve some of the issues that are present in our community, one being workforce. Now, construction's one example, but if you look at a lot of different industries that power this city, there's a huge workforce problem in terms of the labor pool.

Kelly Scanlon:

Oh, definitely.

Drew Eanes:

And so we HAD to do something about that. And so I'm tying in a lot of my passions in terms of equity into workforce. And so an example of that is with one of our partners with the Hadley Project, the Urban League of Kansas City and Swag Inc., who are both being funded by Hadley Project, I've been able to build relationships with their leadership there. And so we've implemented workforce development programs. Project Pathways with the Urban League is designed to train people from the urban core for 48 hours worth of classes to introduce them to the trades, iron work, masonry, carpentry. We've worked with the unions to help them get their pre-apprenticeship card, and when they graduate this program, we're going to put them on our job site. And so it's not just about a job, it's about creating a career. And that's not just going to benefit JE Dunn, but it's going to benefit all of our competitors and the people in this city, and grow that workforce pool to people who historically have been left out of construction. There's not many minorities or black people in construction, or women.

And so that's something that personally I'm passionate about changing. Swag Inc. is another example, Naim Elimese, a good friend of mine who has spent a lot of his life in and out of prison, and he wants to help people not deal with what he had to deal with. And so we're working with them on Second Chance Citizens, same type of concept, to introduce these people to the trades, and give them the dignity, education and resources available to build a career in construction where they don't have to worry about finding that job right after they get out. We want to give them the resources, the people, the knowledge, the mentorship to succeed. So that's just another example of how you can tie in the community with a couple of the hats that I'm fortunate enough to wear to do something positive.

Kelly Scanlon:

You're a very young organization, just a year into this, what kind of results have you seen so far?

Drew Eanes:

Pretty phenomenal results. When we look at our ROI, it's more qualitative than quantitative. We're not worried about how many programs these organizations put on or how much revenue that they've made. It's more of how many lives have you changed? So when we talk to HBCU Walking Billboard and they tell us how many kids they were able to send to college through a grant that we made, through Clean Air Now who's helping clean our rivers, streams, our air, and there's studies that show that that can increase life expectancy. Those are powerful results.

And so we're really working on trying to identify what that means moving forward as we grow to be a little more quantitative in terms of our success. But it's been a blessing to see the qualitative results of people in terms of we're sending kids to school. The programs that we're able to put on, the leadership growth in some of the kids that we're able to work with, POAC, People Of All Colors Succeed is another great example where they have classes and programming and karny, right? But they're also working in the urban core. And what if you could take those two communities and bring them together and focus on the fact that we're one community, we're not five or six different communities, and eliminate some of those biases that these kids naturally may have, consciously or unconsciously, and the results of that are endless.

Kelly Scanlon:

You mentioned that the grants are three years in length. Why three years? Why is that a magic number?

Drew Eanes:

When we first met with a lot of these organizations in 2021, every one of them had this analogy called the Goalpost Theory. And so they would go to a lot of the larger, more well known philanthropic organizations in our community. And the first question they were usually asked was, who else is funding you? And if they didn't have an answer for that, they would say, okay, well why don't you come back when two or three organizations have funded you? And so what we see at the Hadley Project is we've been a catalyst, because people know that the Hadley Project is funding them, it's allowed them to grow their organization with other funders.

And so it's a unintentional impact, if you will, where our dollars may start something, but now these organizations have more confidence and they can build a story to go into other philanthropic organizations or family foundations in the community. And these organizations are more willing to fund them. And so we're growing their footprint, if you will, by the fact that we're giving them a shot. And it's amazing what you can do when you give somebody an opportunity, especially very smart people that we get to work with on a daily basis and what they can do with it.

Kelly Scanlon:

Right now, there is a wait list for the organizations. So what does the fact that you have a wait list say to you?

Drew Eanes:

It tells me we're onto something, not only with these grassroots nonprofits that want to work with us, but we've met and have built relationships with other family foundations across the city who want to know and pick and choose little things about our model that they can implement. So six million dollars may not be nearly as much as a lot of these other organizations have, but it has been a catalyst for people to think differently about what philanthropy can be. And that's extremely exciting because when you work together collaboratively, a lot more things can get done. These organizations have been just a blessing to work with, because it's showing what you can do when you give people an opportunity that may not have had an opportunity before.

Kelly Scanlon:

You have received multiple honors for your dedication to the community, your commitment to entrepreneurial and social justice issues. I mean, just a few of them are Kansas City Man of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You have been part of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's Centurion Leadership program, and you were even voted Centurion of the Year, so congratulations on that. And you've also been a Kansas City Chamber of Commerce ACE Award recipient, so people are recognizing what you're doing. I suspect though, that that's not why you got into the work that you're doing. What is it that drives you about this type of work, about being involved in these kinds of issues?

Drew Eanes:

I think I was very fortunate to have two parents who instilled the desire to do good for others. From a very young age my dad always told me, you need to do as much as you can for as many as you can for as long as you can. And so I take all of the opportunities that I've gotten, the education that I've received, some of the friendships and opportunities that have been presented to me, and I understand that that comes with much is given much is expected, and I take everything and every opportunity that I do as an opportunity to uplift others. It's not about me. I'm fortunate enough to know that I've received and gotten a lot of opportunities, and it would be a shame if I didn't do something about that for other people. And that's how I try to live my life, not only in the community, my job, my family, and my friends. Every aspect of my life, I take it as an opportunity to build others up. And if I can continue to do that then hopefully good things will continue to happen.

Kelly Scanlon:

How can our listeners get involved with the fund?

Drew Eanes:

I think you can go to our website, which is hadleyprojectkc.org, to see and gain a better perspective on the types of organizations that we're working with. We're in phase two of planning what the Hadley Project's going to become, the next phase of it, with some consultants over the fall where we may have the opportunity to become our own independent foundation next year. And so there's a lot of questions in there of what that means, but we'll roll that out and let the community and public know when we're finished with that.

Right now, I think it's less to do with working with the Hadley Project and more what you can do for all of these great organizations that we support. These nonprofits, especially the grassroots ones are always looking for help. If you're interested in educational outcomes or if you're interested in reducing crime, if you're interested in cleaning the environment, grassroots organizing, there's an organization we can get in contact with you with. And so on our website, we have a list of the 30-plus organizations that we're working with and see what their mission's about. And if it aligns with your mission, reach out to them. And I bet you that they'd be willing to have your help.

Kelly Scanlon:

Great advice, and I'm sure they would too. Drew, thank you so much for all the work that you do in our community, you and all the people that you're working with. It's just a wonderful thing that you're doing. We appreciate that.

Drew Eanes:

Well, thank you. I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to do it, and thank you for having me on.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, president of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Drew Eanes for being our guest on this episode of Banking On KC. By creating a trust-based model of giving, the Hadley Project flips the traditional charitable giving model. It targets grassroots, nonprofit organizations focused on racial, social, and environmental causes with three year grants. Then it leads it to the nonprofits, the people closest to those issues, to use those grants in ways that will create the most positive impact.

As a result of the funding and the wraparound services the fund provides, workforce programs are being developed, college scholarships have been awarded to historically black colleges and universities, and a number of other opportunities are being created. The lesson for all of us to remember is that when you give access to opportunity, good things will happen. In the case of the Hadley Fund, helping marginalized communities is good not only for those communities, but for Kansas City as a whole. Thanks for tuning in this week. We're banking on you Kansas City. Country Club Bank, member FDIC.

 

Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender

Trust, Investment and Insurance products and Services:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency.
  • Are Not deposits of, or guaranteed by, the Bank or any Bank affiliate.
  • May lose value.