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Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: the catalyst

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March 25, 2022

Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: the catalyst


SEATTLE, Washington – This year, as we mark 40 years of National CASA/GAL, we are proud to celebrate the donors, funders and partners whose investments have allowed us to help grow the impact of the CASA/GAL network exponentially over four decades. Each month this year we will highlight a donor or funder, in our CASA Matters newsletter and on our website, whose generosity and enthusiastic support has moved our mission forward since 1982.

New York-based Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) is at the center of National CASA/GAL’s founding story. When National CASA/GAL was established, there were already 88 CASA and GAL programs across the country, with the first program originating in King County, Washington in 1977. In July 1980, EMCF funded a gathering of CASA and GAL program leaders in Chicago. At the meeting, program directors agreed on the need for national standards, a uniform role description for CASA and GAL volunteers and a mechanism for data collection and evaluation, laying the groundwork for a national organization.

With a grant from EMCF and together with our long-term partner, the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the first annual CASA/GAL conference was held in Reno, Nevada in April 1982. CASA and GAL program representatives from 25 states and DC participated in the formation of National CASA/GAL to be the unified voice for CASA and GAL programs serving children and families across the country.

For many years, EMCF was instrumental in the development of many foundational elements of the CASA/GAL program, including the model itself, training and standards. For CASA and GAL programs just starting out, EMCF-funded materials were go-to resources.

In 2016, EMCF incubated Blue Meridian Partners, a collaborative philanthropic investment vehicle that oversees a portfolio of transformative grants to scale organizations working to lift children and families out of poverty. As it transitions operations to Blue Meridian, EMCF leaves a legacy of impact on our organization and so many others working to serve children and families.