At Thread we are fortunate to have a unique group of engaged board members, thought partners, and advisers. We say they are unique both because of their fierce commitment to the growth of our students, volunteers, and collaborators and because of their ability to show all the way up on their own journey.
In 2017, Thread’s board of directors made a bold decision. They understood that the keys to building trusting relationships are being vulnerable, working on your own personal growth, and communicating openly. They also understood that in a society where we are often tagged in groups as “haves” or “have nots,” bridging the divide and creating equality begins in relationships—whether it is board member to board member, student to volunteer, or staff to volunteer. Thus, rather than make fundraising their primary goal, as many boards would do at the onset of an ambitious four-year strategic plan, they decided to concentrate on further deepening their relationships that cross lines of difference and sharing how those relationships have changed them. And in doing so, they acknowledged that their privilege comes with the advantage of personal privacy. Privacy that allows them to decide when to share and be vulnerable, when to ask for help and how they will be perceived by others. This privacy often escapes our young people. Our board’s willingness to relinquish this luxury moves us all towards a more equitable social fabric.
Although fundraising wasn’t their primary focus, they also realized they had to be all in if they expected others to do the same. In another resounding show of support, each member made a personally consequential four-year financial commitment to Thread that resulted in real life trade-offs. Whether that meant gifting two months of income or money saved for a child’s private school tuition, the gesture affirmed the impact that their relationships within Thread have had on their lives and their determination to create space for more students, volunteers, and collaborators to have an equally impactful journey.
In addition to our board, Thread has a number of thought partners and advisers who have consistently shown up for more than a decade to guide us through our own maturation. They challenge our thinking, offer differing perspectives based on their unique expertise, and often give us the confidence to make hard decisions. Individuals who are entrenched in the fabric of Baltimore City, including Bob Embry, Patricia and Mark Joseph, and Bob Meyerhoff & Rheda Becker, have worked to shape the strategic direction of Thread and supported a disciplined approach to our operations. Their unwavering commitment to Thread’s growth mirrors that of our board, each making remarkably generous four-year commitments that will allow all Thread community members to develop in meaningful ways.
The first year of our four year strategic plan was pivotal for our Thread community. We launched a fourth school site at Digital Harbor High School, enrolled 112 new students (up from 48 in FY17) and over 500 new volunteers. As we began planning for year two, we consulted with Jonathon and Joanna Jacobson, who have been invaluable sounding boards during several critical organizational milestones, including our name change, refining the Thread Community Model, and most recently our strategic planning process. They understood the challenges organizations face during times of immense growth. Wanting to give us space to focus on what matters most— the growth of our students, volunteers and collaborators—the Jacobsons made a stunning gift to Thread of six million dollars. As Sarah states, “What Jon and Joanna did was the ultimate act of being seen. This unprecedented gift will enable us to remain focused on our people and continue to build relationships across lines of difference.”
We are so grateful for the unique individuals who believe in us every day.