South Korean Foundation Visits Michigan

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Representatives of South Korea’s The Beautiful Foundation visited Michigan recently to learn more about how the state’s community foundations help others and also to spread the spirit of Nanum (sharing and giving) with their Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) hosts.

The philanthropic learning trip by 11 members of The Beautiful Foundation took them to CMF’s Grand Haven office where they received information about how grantmaking works throughout the state and U.S. and then a tour of the lakefront community by CMF president and CEO Rob Collier.

“This is such a wonderful area and we are learning many things we can take back to Korea with us and share with others,” said Hyomi An, a program officer with The Beautiful Foundation and a group leader, through an interpreter.
The focus of their visit, said An, was multi-faceted. “We are here to learn what our role should be in the community; how to expand our work; the best way to form partnerships and the methods for doing so; how to apply aspects of successful (foundation) models; and learn more about youth grantmaking.”

Sightseeing highlights of the Michigan visit included a sojourn to the Grand Haven beach where the group said they admired the white sand, dipping their toes into the warm water and posing for fun photographs. A lunch at The Kirby House restaurant had the visitors sharing and taste-testing various dishes and enjoying their American fare.

“Everyone likes to try new things and…there is so much to choose from (the menu),” said translator Shinyoung Park. “Eating American food is a fun part of the trip!”

An said a special moment of their Grand Haven visit was when Collier presented each of them a gift of a bar of chocolate shaped like Michigan with a candy star marking the city’s location of where they were.
“His gift was so wonderful,” shared An. “And especially from someone who is so in love with and knowledgeable about chocolate like Mr. Rob!”

After the group’s visit at CMF headquarters, the traveling team departed for the campus of Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant to take in “Find Your Voice 2016”, this year’s three-day Youth Grantmakers Summer Leadership Conference. They observed learning breakout sessions and gave a presentation on their foundation for the attendees, after which they all introduced themselves—their friendly presence was a welcome addition to the conference.

The Korean contingent marveled at the more than 300 young participants at the event, speaking to several to learn why they had such a love of and desire to participate in philanthropic service and giving back to their communities.

“I am really interested in learning about their (YACs) best practices and how the lessons are taught for their grantmaking,” said another program officer with The Beautiful Foundation, Hui Jung.

An and Jung said their foundation’s grantmaking in South Korea and also their U.S. counterpart, Beautiful Foundation USA founded in 2006 – focuses on several key areas of need in their communities:

  •  Seniors - For this particularly vulnerable population, funding support includes free daily lunch programs for homebound seniors, special computer and dance classes, free blood tests, and assistance in receiving Medicaid and Medicare and other government benefits.
  • Youth – “We focus on areas where poverty and social isolation place children at particularly high risk. Funding includes outreach and counseling services provided by experienced, bilingual social workers through various elementary and middle schools, and various youth empowerment programs.”
  • Women – Funding support includes culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate counseling and other services aimed to support Asian American women who are overcoming domestic violence, as well as safe shelters and transitional housing support for them and their children.
  •  Immigrants – “We fund community based organizations that support Asian American immigrants through advocacy, community education, and immigrant services such as legal assistance, particularly focusing on vulnerable members.”
  • Individuals with disabilities – “We seek to empower individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through various support and other programs (including afterschool/weekend and appropriate skills building programs) to increase confidence, socialization and independence.”

After the youth conference, the South Korean contingent was headed to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy on the campus of Indiana University in Indianapolis for more presentations and learning experiences through teaching and in-field reports, according to Park.

An summed up the “rich experiences” provided from their U.S. trip by saying, “We can all learn from each other the best ways to help our communities and those in need. We hope one day our new friends can visit us (in South Korea) so we can show them all that we do. Together we can do many things!”


News type: