We acknowledge that there are many layers beneath the simple recap we offer here. Our ancestors who traveled by wooden boats to the eastern shores of Native homelands and the colonization of those homelands westward leaves a painful memory of loss and cataclysmic change that created conditions for the newcomers settlers gain, our economic gain.
Swift Foundation incorporated shortly after United Parcel Service, a private company for 92 years, went public with shares of stock offered to the public in 1999. John Swift chose to diversify stock while following the family charitable tradition of his grandfather and mother by creating a foundation. John, a committed supporter of organizations with a global focus on protecting and conserving nature, investing in community wellbeing and promoting sustainable organic agriculture; continued funding these initiatives around the world for the next ten years.
In 2009, Swift Foundation tripled in size with the proceeds from the Marilyn Smith Swift Tennity foundation, John’s mother’s foundation. At this time, John invited his daughters Sonja and Karen to join the board, launching a new innovative chapter for the foundation with an expansion of the mission toward respecting Indigenous Peoples as crucial leaders in protecting biocultural diversity. Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan author and scholar, joined the board as the first non-family board member. The Foundation also made a radical revision of how the endowment was managed; leading to Swift Foundation’s first mission-related investment policy and subsequent work toward greater coherency and accountability in how investments align with the mission.
By 2019, the board had expanded to be governed by a multicultural majority of non-family board members and in May of this year, the board committed to double the annual payout. This marked a turning point for the organization, not just through a financial commitment but also through a deeper commitment toward strengthening the foundation’s leadership, approach and responsibility to our partners on the ground. A year later, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the increased funding was applied in emergency grants to partners and allied organizations. The staff also entered into a process of re-envisioning the Foundation’s work and way of working in authentic solidarity, revising our programs strategy, mission, vision, values and principles. We continue this work today, now led by majority Indigenous staff and leadership.