To develop the capacity and commitment of young people to improve their lives and communities, as well as the world around them.
1. Connect through building and growing relationships
2. Collaborate through mutual sharing and learning
3. Communicate honestly and openly
4. Integrate diverse perspectives
A WELCOME FROM OUR BOARD PRESIDENT
As a third-generation member and new president of the Cricket Island Foundation (CIF) board, I’d like to introduce you to our foundation and its work.
We are a family foundation, founded in 2000. After the sale of Therma-Tru Corporation, a family business, my grandparents, David and Georgia Welles, created the foundation. From its beginning, the goal was to involve multiple generations of the family in a united philanthropic pursuit. Our name comes from a beloved Canadian island that serves as a summer gathering place.
CIF is now over 20 years old, and we remain unified in our commitment to youth-led social change, and in our commitment to doing so as a family. As we have grown in wisdom over the years, so have our grantmaking strategies and our awareness of the field.
Our family has always valued collaboration, trust, and deep connection. We work to practice this internally in our board work, and externally through our relationships with grantees and partners in the field.
We value learning together with grantees, and communicating openly, such that we can become more effective grantmakers and grantee partners can continue to be most effective in their work. Ultimately, we hope that the work of our foundation supports the youth-led movement to a more just and equitable society.
Hope V. Welles
President, Cricket Island Foundation
Liz Sak became the second Executive Director of the Cricket Island Foundation in 2008, overseeing all aspects of the Foundation’s management including finance, program development, grantmaking, and field-building.
Prior to joining the foundation, Liz spent more than two decades running non-profit organizations. This work included securing millions of dollars of public investment in youth development work in the South Bronx which culminated in her securing funding for the Phipps Beacon School, a multi-service initiative serving young people and families in the East Tremont section of the Bronx; Liz served as the inaugural director of that program. She has since led organizations at the intersection of youth-organizing, the arts, and youth-development, developing public-private partnerships in support of that work. Since her move to philanthropy in 2008, Liz has focused on the development of strategies that are grounded in principles of social justice philanthropy, organizational strengthening, and partnership. She recently co-authored an article on evaluation for The Foundation Review and her writing has appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Foundation Center, and numerous blogs. She has spoken extensively on evaluation, impact, organizational development, and social justice philanthropy at industry conferences and as an adjunct assistant professor at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and has served on several boards including Philanthropy New York, Hetrick Martin Institute, and the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Liz holds a BA in political science from Lehigh University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.
LEELA VAN BALKOM
Leela is the Program Officer at Cricket Island Foundation where she engages in the development and implementation of strategic initiatives, oversees the Foundation’s small grants program, and guides the Foundation’s impact assessment work. She collaborates with philanthropic and nonprofit partners to advocate for just and equitable grantmaking practices, identify opportunities for collaboration, and pinpoint gaps in philanthropic support, leveraging the Foundation’s investments towards greater impact. Previously, she served as the Foundation's program and operations manager.
Committed to community-driven change, Leela held positions as a resource mobilizer for various nonprofit and social justice organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Most recently, Leela led the fundraising efforts at Picture the Homeless, a grassroots, member-led organization, founded by homeless and formerly homeless people. Leela has also held multiple roles in monitoring and evaluation, including a long-term consultancy with B21, an arts-based research and development organization, to support nonprofits in defining, assessing, and reporting on their impact.
Leela earned a master’s degree from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and a bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Program and Operations Associate
T. oversees the grants management at Cricket Island Foundation, with a focus on ensuring that the values of the Foundation transcend all aspects of the administration of grants, as well as the Foundation’s operations.
T. has worked as a consultant for several NYC-based nonprofits over the last 7 years. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, she performed in local theater productions and regional commercials. She holds a A.S. in Business Administration from Queensborough Community College and is pursuing a B.S. in Public Affairs from Baruch College.
Coordinator, Leading Forward Initiative
Melissa is a consultant who centers her work on strategy, knowledge, tech, and racial justice, with a particular focus on building knowledge and shifting practices to point more resources to local communities and community leaders. She joined Leading Forward in May of 2022 to help move the collective from ideas to action.
Jenny has overseen the finance, personnel and operational activities at Cricket Island Foundation since 2010. Prior to that, she spent ten years in grants, finance and operations management in both the philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors in New York City, at a private anti-poverty foundation and then at a multicultural, arts-based youth leadership organization. She transitioned into the field after a decade of experience managing businesses representing international cottage artisans.
Jenny has served multiple terms on the executive board of the Park Slope Jewish Center, and volunteers in a number of community initiatives around food and sustainability, having joined as a founding member of her local food cooperative as well as managed a neighborhood CSA.
She received her B.A. from Barnard College, and pursued her graduate studies in non-for-profit management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Hana supports Cricket Island Foundation's leadership transitions work. Her background is in gender justice, education, digital media, and community-based organizations. Previously, she served as executive director of the now-sunset youth media organizing group, Global Action Project; directed Mozilla Hive NYC, a peer-learning network of digital learning educators from nonprofits, libraries, and museums with a focus on digital and education equity; supported youth organizing groups as a program officer at Cricket Island Foundation; and co-facilitated the Asian American Student Advocacy Project at Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. Hana has a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Dance Studies from Smith College.
For two decades Javier “Javi” Lopez has worked to create projects/policie
For two decades Javier “Javi” Lopez has worked to create projects/policies/narratives that address the root causes of systemic racism, environmental injustice, interpersonal violence, and health inequities. As the Principal and Founder of Real Time Response, Inc. (RTR), Javi partners with change agents who are looking to enhance and advance their organization's justice agenda.
Javi’s passion for justice and movement work can be traced back to his family. As a product of Black and White Puerto Rican parents Javi was educated from a young age on how racism and anti-blackness can impact an individual, a family and a community. When he is not working Javi can be found on the baseball and soccer fields training with his kids or dancing the night away with his wife and soulmate Michelle.