Kevin Dow, a veteran of the Philadelphia Commerce Department, United Way, and other local nonprofits, has been named executive director of the Regional Foundation LLC, formerly the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and now part of the Philadelphia Foundation.
The $100 million Regional Foundation, founded in 1998 to make community-development grants in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, paused new commitments during the transition to the new corporate structure last year, and is now making new grants in a world changed by the pandemic and civil unrest, Dow said Monday.
“We continue to fund organizations that were lined up in the past, but now that we have had a shift in our society [with the pandemic and race relations], it’s important that we step back and take a moment to look at what we are trying to achieve and are our goals being met in the same fashion as they were before the pandemic,” said Dow, who will start his new job Dec. 1.
How the new era at the Regional Foundation takes shape will depend on part on what Dow hears from the neighborhood organizations it supports, Dow said, describing what he called trust philanthropy.
“Grant funders need to trust the nonprofits that they work with, that they know what the needs are and trust that they are going to meet them,” he said.
The foundation typically pays out $4 million to $5 million annually. The total was $5.7 million last year fueled by ongoing commitments, according to its federal tax return. The amount it awards each year is greater because most of the grants cover more than one year.
Dow, 52, is joining the Regional Foundation from the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia, where he was vice president of operations. Before that he was the inaugural director of the Friends of the Rail Park in Philadelphia, north of Center City.
From 2014 to 2017, he was senior vice president for impact and innovation at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. From 2008 to early 2014, while Michael Nutter was mayor, Dow was chief operating officer at the Philadelphia Commerce Department.
The position at the foundation is his “dream job,” said Dow, who until recently was president of the Regional Foundation’s board of directors. He stepped down in August.
The regional foundation was formed in 1998 to house charitable assets of banks that had been rolled up through acquisitions into CoreStates Financial Corp. and First Union Corp.
Wells Fargo, which is based in San Francisco, ceded management of the former Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to the Philadelphia Foundation last year to allow staff to focus on grant making and managing programs rather than on the nuts and bolts of running the foundation, a Well Fargo executive said last year.
The Philadelphia Foundation manages more than 1,000 charitable funds with total assets of more than $700 million in assets. Among the entities under the Philadelphia Foundation is the Lenfest Institute, which owns The Inquirer, Daily News, and Inquirer.com
Wells Fargo has a separate national corporate foundation that was not part of the transaction with the Philadelphia Foundation. It will continue focusing nationwide on affordable housing, small business, and financial health, Well Fargo officials said.