From grantee to grantor, Sonya Fleck’s longtime relationship with GiVE 365 grows
GiVE 365’s willingness to take a chance on fledgling, grassroots efforts initially drew Sonya Fleck as a grantseeker – and has kept her and her family involved with the membership for years. A curriculum design expert focused on college access, she first heard about the dollar-a-day giving program in 2012 while working at KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools. Responding to that year’s grant theme Eyes on the Prize: organizations helping students graduate from high school or college, Sonya successfully applied for a $7,000 grant for Rising Senior and College Transitions seminars, camps designed to help at-risk KIPP students successfully navigate the college experience. Sonya proudly points out that the entire cohort of kids from the program supported by that grant graduated from college in 5 years or less.
That experience opened Sonya’s eyes to the unique characteristics of the giving circle. “GiVE 365 is the interrupter,” she says. “It lets people try something brand new to see if it will work, and it supports getting grassroots efforts off the ground.” She and her husband, James (pictured, left), joined the group in 2012.
The Flecks have long involved their three children, Katherine, Monica, and Luke, in the grant evaluation process. “We sat down with all those grant documents,” Sonya recounts. “Katherine learned much more from reading those nonprofit financial documents than she ever would have from balancing a checkbook! We discussed and graded them over dinner.” That careful evaluation and informed giving contributes to the family’s deliberate commitment to volunteerism and service. Pictured: Sonya and daughter Katherine (at right) volunteering with GiVE 365 at the St. Mary's Soup Kitchen.
In addition to working full-time and serving on several boards, including as a member of GiVE 365's Advisory Team, Sonya is also a hands-on volunteer. The 2018 grant round inspired her once again. “I had heard of Playback Memphis, but I didn’t really know what they do until grant review night. That is the most creative thing I’ve ever seen! I’m actually starting to do some volunteer work with them. I was immediately like, ‘that is really cool.’” she says. “I had a huge personal growth moment, and that is an integral part of what GiVE 365 can do. Here is an opportunity to really learn about all the amazing things that are going on and what our city is really about.”