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CAP® STUDY GROUPS Build Bonds and Bridges

Excerpt from CAP® Share Newsletter Issue 37, September 2020, American College of Financial Services

Since its inception, the CAP® program has convened professionals with different, sometimes conflicting, philosophies and goals—advisors committed to guarding and growing their clients’ wealth, and nonprofit professionals seeking donors to their causes.  The CAP® curriculum was designed to unite these professionals in an atmosphere of mutual respect and with the shared purpose of helping the philanthropic-minded uplift their communities in an informed, strategic way.

Early on in CAP®’s history, however, Todd S. Healy realized that the program’s excellent curriculum was missing a piece to help designees achieve their ambitious philanthropic goals.  The missing element he identified was an informal forum in which wealth management and nonprofit professionals—particularly representatives of community foundation —could learn side-by-side about charitable planning and the needs of and resources available in their community.  And so, a decade ago, Todd founded the Dallas CAP® study group—the first such in the nation, which continues today under the auspices of The Dallas Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas.

The success of Todd’s innovation inspired several dozen other CAP® study groups to form based on location across the U.S. These study groups have significantly enhanced the amount and impact of local giving. Over the past five years, for example, $1.4 billion of philanthropy can be traced to the CAP® Omaha Study Group.

Determined not to let the pandemic disrupt the momentum of the study groups, the CAP® team hosted an initial call this spring to connect and solicit ideas from the moderators.  The moderators used Zoom to continue their meetings, and through their relentless recruiting efforts, the study groups continued. This care and determination are among the factors that make the CAP® program unique.

In the summer, the CAP® moderators reconvened, and joining them was The American College of Financial Services President and CEO George Nichols III.  He shared his plan to earn the CAP® designation and work with the newly formed Philadelphia CAP® Study Group.  This will be his first designation from The College, and he hopes it will show how strongly he and The College are committed to the CAP® program.  He also shared The College’s Four Steps Forward initiative to enhance economic empowerment and thus equality in America.

This fall, The College faculty members Tim Belber, JD, AEP®, and Heather O’Connor, MA, Ph.D. candidate, CFRE®, will be moderating a new national study group.  In addition, a new approach to the formation of CAP® study groups is underway, under the leadership of Dien Yuen, JD/LLM, CAP®, AEP®, who holds the Blunt-Nickel Professorship in Philanthropy at The College.  These study groups will be based not on geographic location but on affinity, with the first such groups being Advisors of Color and the Christian CAP® Study Groups.

Assistant Professor of Philanthropy Phil Cubeta, CAP® Program Director and Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at The College, believes that these new study groups will create bonds and bridges—bonds built around identity and bridges to other groups and to society as a whole.  That this is a risky—and necessary— venture at this time in the history of our country does not escape him: “Getting good dialogue across difference is very, very difficult. If we can maintain our cordiality in our dialogues and our openness and our vulnerability across our differences, we can set a really good example.”  These new study groups have the potential to do more than offer an array of differences across different affinity groups.  “If we can be more cordial than the country,” Professor Cubeta observes, “perhaps we can move our country closer to e pluribus unum, to a nation united not despite our differences, but made stronger by those differences.  That’s my highest hope.”

Reprinted with permission by The American College of Financial Services.

Read the full CAP® Share Newsletter.

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