Capturing Our Commitment to Faith-Based Education

This week, we launched a new series called Bainum Briefs — short papers that cover a range of topics, including research conducted by the Foundation and our partners, perspectives on issues related to our work, the thinking behind our work and lessons we’ve learned along the way. Our first-ever Brief — “Realigning a Legacy: Foundation Refocuses Long-Standing Commitment to Faith-Based Education” — tells the story of our long-standing, but evolving, commitment to faith-based education.

As Director of our Seventh-day Adventist Initiative, I’m particularly excited to share this Brief. Over my eight years with the Foundation, I have received many questions about the “why” and “what” behind our work. And in this short paper, we were able to comprehensively explain our journey — both how we got to where we are today and where we plan to go from here.

The Bainum Family Foundation is not a faith-based organization. But we have operated a faith-based initiative throughout our entire existence. Why? Because our founders Stewart and Jane Bainum largely credit their success in life to their education at Seventh-day Adventist boarding schools. In their honor, we support faith-based education as part of our mission.

Our dedication to this work has never wavered; we always aim to stay true to the intentions of our founders. But over time, two things happened: the needs of our partners and communities shifted, and the Foundation’s overall strategy moved from providing direct services to supporting and investing in broader and more sustainable impact. And so, in response to these shifts, we adapted our approach.

We hope this story will be of interest and value to our partners and colleagues in the SDA community, the broader realm of Bainum Family Foundation friends and collaborators, and other foundations that may be going through similar transitions. Sunsetting programs or shifting directions is not easy, often requiring hard decisions and sometimes resulting in a misstep or two. But when done thoughtfully and with respect for important relationships built over years, it can ultimately have greater impact than what was originally imagined.

So, without further ado, we hope you enjoy our first Bainum Brief.