Maximizing Your Strategic Philanthropy

Eos Foundation

The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) merged with the Boston Foundation in 2012, bringing with nearly 25 years of experience in philanthropic advising to individuals, families and foundations and corporations in Boston, across the country and around the world.  Two local philanthropists who have benefited from TPI’s expertise are Ken Nickerson and Kate Deyst, a married couple who are the donors behind Eos Foundation.


“We had reached a time in our lives when we wanted to commit a major percentage of our income to philanthropy,” explains Ken.  So in 1999, he and Kate seized the day and launched Eos Foundation, named for the goddess of dawn and new beginnings.  They put together an outstanding staff, headed by Andrea Silbert, and reached out to Ellen Remmer, now Managing Partner at TPI, to assist them in shaping what Ken calls “cohesive themes and strategies” for their philanthropy.

Ellen helped them design their first initiative, which reflected a passion of Ken’s— breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty in Boston by helping people to chart their own paths.  It came to be called Boston Rising, and today is an independent agency.

Now they are focusing on a passion of Kate’s, which is to make a profound difference in childhood hunger.  Eos Foundation has funded a number of organizations focused on hunger and food and Kate has served on the Boston Food Council, which was launched by Mayor Menino in 2008 to help Bostonians access healthy, locally-sourced food while promoting the production of food as an economic development strategy.

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about the issue of hunger and food production from the Council and from our grantees,” says Kate, “and over the last year we’ve taken a remarkable ‘learning tour’ across the country, meeting with people who are working to alleviate hunger.  They have been very generous about sharing their knowledge.”

More than 700,000 people in Massachusetts are struggling to put food on the table, with 10.8 percent of households considered “food insecure.”  Hunger is particularly devastating for the youngest members of our state’s families.  When children are hungry, they are more likely to get sick, miss school and struggle to learn.

Over the next several years Eos will take on childhood hunger by investing at least $15 million in access to nutritious food—an effort they both hope will make a measurable difference.  Ken says that while they are interested in outcomes and data and “a nuanced understanding” of what works and what doesn’t, there is another impulse he and Kate follow.  “Ultimately,” he suggests, “philanthropy means a love of others.  What tugs at you?  What inspires you?  Those are the most important questions we ask ourselves.”