Five Questions with Herman H. Rose

Herman Rose established the first of three funds at the Foundation in 1985 and has been a thoughtful and involved partner throughout the nearly three decades he has worked with the Foundation.

1. What do you support through The Rhode Island Foundation?

My giving supports many causes, but there are three areas for which I have established Foundation funds:

  1. The Archive, Document, Display and Dissemination Fund annually offers a request for proposals for those four functions of a typical film or media project;
  2. The Rhode Island Rose Award Fund is my initiative to recognize outstanding leadership through awards to the nonprofit organizations those leaders direct; and
  3. The DeRabbanan Fund provides support to Jewish agencies.

2. Why did you choose to partner with the Foundation?

The partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation has been extremely valuable to me! The staff advice and services have been A-1 from the beginning, the coverage and interests of the Foundation are aligned with mine, I needed to make a gift of stock immediately, and the investment performance is of leadership quality and generally provides for increased grants each year. To increase an annual gift is very stimulating for me and, ultimately, the recipients.

3. What inspires you to give?

My inspirations come mainly from the chances to engage with the citizen needs and agency opportunities that abound in our 31 towns and eight cities. Some ideas come from reading and on-line sources. Many may come from combining two or three partial solutions. Stories of Rhode Island successes and opportunities are very compelling. I am confident these will increase in the future.

4. What was your first act of philanthropy?

What a test of memory; probably healthy for this soul!

My grandmother insisted I eat the crusts of my rye bread. She would say, "Think, Herman, of what the starving children of Nazi Europe are going through!" I never quite made the connection of how my suffering would help, but I still finish all my crusts, 75 years later!

On Saturdays, sometimes my dad took me to be with his learned grandfather. Usually, the highlight was my great-grandfather presenting me with a shiny coin, such as a nickel. One Saturday, on our after lunch walk he presented me with a quarter. I couldn't keep my fingers from turning that quarter over and over deep in my pocket. On our walk, a bearded man approached with a shiny blue can, smiling at my great-grandfather, who joyously folded a bill to push through the tiny slot on top. Next, he turned to me and said "Nu, Chaim!" and I had to surrender my new shiny quarter to that huge gulping slot. Lesson learned: always cash in your gift quarters for nickels!

My first Rhode Island gift was signing up for payroll deduction for the United Way when I came to work for the RI Department of Roads and Bridges. That small initiation has steadily grown to an annual gift of six times my then annual salary!

5. What is your hope for Rhode Island?

I live in the future and my hopes are extensive: That Rhode Island donors have more engagement with professional fundraisers and with each other for mutual goals. That the Foundation Center Regional Collection (at the Providence Public Library) be restored to its original glory and usage. And that we communally recognize – and put into practice – what we individually know: libraries are important to every branch of human need and the goals of effective nonprofits. 

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Providence, RI 02903


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