Edward (Ted) J. Miller, Jr.
Chairman, Jane Bancroft Robinson Foundation
A fourth-generation Washingtonian, Ted has actively engaged with professional, community, and charitable organizations throughout his life. He currently serves on the board of trustees for Sibley Memorial Hospital and works with other organizations and foundations.
Ted has been an integral member of JBRF since its inception. Of its founding, he says, “The Jane Bancroft Robinson Foundation was established in 2010 as part of Sibley Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins Health System integration. It was intended to honor the legacy of Jane Bancroft Robinson, who was the founding member of Sibley Memorial Hospital, and carry forward the legacy of the Methodist Church.”
Highlighting the relationship among JBRF, Sibley Memorial Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, he explains how the unique synergy between these entities transcends administrative boundaries. As Ted elucidates, “JBRF is a supporting foundation to Sibley Memorial Hospital, and Sibley Memorial Hospital is a partner with Johns Hopkins Medicine in the care of patients in the National Capital Region of Washington.” This distinctive relationship ensures that the health care needs of the community are met through various complementary missions.
In partnering with Johns Hopkins and Sibley, Ted notes that the JBRF board is very excited about its new approach to grant allocation. This alliance is the bedrock upon which the new grant-making approach will be constructed. “We are trying to build a new model for grant-making that emanates from the grassroots, and the problems we are trying to solve in the community are solved by the members of the community themselves.”
Ted emphasizes that the benefits are not confined to the community JBRF aims to serve; they extend to those who offer assistance. “Sibley Memorial Hospital provides charity care in areas of cancer treatment, workforce development, and other important aspects in the community. Johns Hopkins has a very robust public health initiative in Baltimore. As Ted succinctly puts it, by joining forces with JBRF, the resources available to affect change extend far beyond individual grants.
The initial years of the foundation saw a period of formation and broader grant-making. “In the formative period, our biggest challenge was to understand the impact that our grants were making in the community,” Ted says. In 2017, a strategic planning process led to a pivotal shift in the Foundation’s approach (you can read more about that here). The team currently leading JBRF proposed an idea that sought to change traditional philanthropy: a trust-based, place-based model that focuses on two specific areas in a specific geography. Drawing from their experiences, the team envisioned an innovative approach that could address the challenges Black women faced living East of the Anacostia River in D.C. They coined this approach the “strategic design initiative,” given its strategic nature in achieving a positive impact. Thus, a new model for meaningful collaboration took shape, quickly evolving into Black Women Thriving East of the River.
“Through the implementation of this initiative, the foundation’s hope is that grantors like us in the community will have a platform to avail themselves to fund while funding specific elements of a solution to some of these challenging problems,” Ted explains. “They don’t have to reinvent the wheel and they can see the real impact across a broader solutions platform than the one-off approach that occurs today. And I think that’s a real value-add, not just to the community members but to those seeking to do good and provide financial support within the community.”
The evolution of JBRF’s focus areas—from funding broad social determinants of health to specifically addressing patient navigation and cancer mortality rates—is a testament to its commitment to creating deep impact.
Looking forward, Ted’s aspirations for JBRF are both ambitious and inspiring. While the strategic design initiative isn’t unique across the country, Ted’s hope is that it will serve as a model for other organizations grappling with complex social issues. “Right now we are focused on Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C., and our focus is around women’s health, cancer in particular, and workforce development. But it can be applied to many, many different other social challenges that communities are facing today.”
For those considering partnering or collaborating with JBRF, Ted’s message is clear: collective action is paramount. “We recognize that we can’t do it alone,” he says. The foundation’s mission transcends individual efforts and seeks to harness the collective potential of diverse individuals and organizations. “Our commitment to those who do engage is that we will have a real impact in solving these issues and challenges.”