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Jamie Forman gives back to help others move forward.

Jamie Forman

We recently asked Jamie Forman about his inspirations and aspirations for giving.

A Twin Cities attorney, Jamie started giving back as a child in Saint Paul and has seen first-hand the immediate, positive impact giving can make. Today, his family has a donor advised fund with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

Why do you give?

I personally give because I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I give financially, and with my time and effort. I am not sure if this trait is innate, or if it came from my parents, both of whom were involved in giving in the community in many ways. What I can tell you is that I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to give back.

What are your earliest memories of giving?

I recall giving tzedakah money at Temple Sunday school and collecting pennies or nickels in UNICEF boxes when we went trick-or-treating on Halloween. I also gave back to my high school after I graduated (and continue to do so).

How has that memory shaped your philanthropy?

I value access to learning and the benefits of education, especially higher ed, where one can learn to observe, communicate and be thoughtful. I believe that societies flourish when their education platforms and programs are successful and that members of these societies equally flourish when they have access to and participate in these successful platforms and programs. This is a reason why I have given to, through financial support, and time and effort, learning, mentoring, teaching, and education. I value all forms of education, although I am preferential to learning through observation, experience, communication and reflective thought.

My mother inspired me to support education. She said that “as education goes, so goes our community.” I believe that the friendships, experiences and learning that I received at the wonderful schools that I attended, not to mention having been taught by some incredible teachers, professors and coaches, have played a role in my interest to philanthropically support education.

I have been successful with many aspects of my life. For this, I feel incredibly lucky. I believe that my own schooling has contributed to this success, including with my chosen field of law. By my giving back, I am hoping that others will enjoy similar fortune and success, and in turn will give back in ways that are meaningful to them.

What led you to open a fund with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation?

My father, sisters and I opened a fund with the Foundation for four reasons.

  • First is the connection between our family and the Foundation. My great grandmother, Annie Paper, bequeathed the original seed capital for what is now the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, and my father served on the board of the Saint Paul Foundation for several years.
  • Second is that my family and I were born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
  • Third is the local community nature of the Foundation.
  • Fourth are the practicalities and administrative benefits that came with a donor advised fund.

Since we started the Fund, I have felt extremely comfortable with Foundation’s handling of the donor advised fund. The Foundation manages the funds well. The staff is also very responsive: When I have a grant request, they address it; when I have a question, they answer it. I have attended some of the Foundation’s education programs and have found them to be helpful, informative, and presented by excellent speakers.

Imagine you could create the perfect world, what would that look like?

Members of the society would be thoughtful. They would have had the opportunity to learn, if they chose to do so, from motivating and inspiring teachers and professors, and through observation, experience, communication and reflective thought.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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