History & Background
Barbara L. Valocore, President
The Lifebridge Foundation, Inc. was incorporated and funded as a small independent family foundation in 1992. This marked the beginning of an absorbing and compelling journey into the relatively uncharted territory of what could be termed "holistic activism". The idea was to foster the truths of the underlying planetary unity and the factual reality of a single human race through philanthropy. The Foundation was established to provide opportunity for groups and individuals who were working to promote these ideas. Since that time over 200 non-profit organizations and individuals have been helped to fulfill their missions. A wide and inclusive mission statement reflecting openness and breadth was key.
Early on, it became clear we needed to align ourselves with larger and more established organizations as a way to become known to the audience we were targeting. It was therefore natural to approach groups like The Institute of Noetic Sciences and The New York Open Center as a way to learn more about their networks. It wasn't very long thereafter that we were "known" and the letters came flooding in. Some even called us a "spiritual" foundation.
It soon became clear there was a pressing need for funders who were willing to support fledgling groups doing innovative and awe-inspiring work and who had the potential to reach large constituencies. For these people, a relatively small foundation grant or seed grant if you will, helped them tremendously. It helped launch their work and position them to receive additional and often larger grants.
Association with the United Nations
After about 5 years of operation flew by, it was suggested that we could add another dimension to our service and expand our work by association with the United Nations as an affiliated NGO (non-governmental organization). At first, this was quite a daunting prospect, we were so small and the UN is so big! However, in realizing that there is a large body of dedicated and volunteer based organizations who support the core mission of the UN, and who in essence, act as representatives of civil society, we felt we could be of service here. On December 10, 1997, Human Rights Day, we were awarded associative status with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.
Our endowment grew quickly with the market boom of the late 1990's, and we kept pace by awarding more grants than in previous years. It seemed right to remain consistent with the market flow especially as there were so many pioneering, high quality projects coming our way. It was clear there was great need for this work and almost all of our grantees' projects met with resounding success.
Always looking for ways to enhance the field of "holistic activism", the topic of meetings and gatherings kept coming up. Our first small conference (see image from top of this page) was inspired by one of our grantees, Rupert Sheldrake [grantee ...], who had a dream to host a conversation with thinkers representing a wide variety of disciplines on the incomprehensible concept of the consciousness of the Sun! We had always considered ourselves somewhat "on the edge" in the wider field of philanthropy, and this topic clearly kept us there! Why not? The conference was a huge success largely in part because no one had any "answer" to this unknowable question. All were on a level playing field and consequently could enjoy the debate. Some participants actually asked that their names be kept secret so as not to jeopardize their jobs in academia! (Read Rupert Sheldrake's review of the Consciousness of the Sun gathering.)
The relationships that flourished as a result of that unusual meeting in June 1997 confirmed that we could expand our work by offering meetings for groups of grantees for the purpose of networking and strengthening the overall field of interconnectedness. In 1999, we began holding small meetings for previous years' grantees and these loosely structured and inspiring gatherings confirmed our opinion that by simply bringing grantees together to talk, relax and network, much could be accomplished. People from widely diverse backgrounds and disciplines soon realized that they were all really doing the same basic work. Many collaborations sprung from these gatherings and we saw that holistic activism was strong and growing.
In the winter of 1997 we launched The Bridging Tree, our semi-annual newsletter, which we continued to publish until Spring 2004. It served as a vehicle to report on grantees' activities, current holistic trends, and UN related activities. Also in 1997 we put up our website which now receives several thousand "hits" per month.
In 2005 the focus of the Foundation shifted to the establishment and operation of the Lifebridge Sanctuary and we took a break from grant making. However, the "family" of grantees remains strong and we are continually inspired and nourished by the quality, dedication and perseverance of the groups and individuals we have supported. Additionally and happily, we have noticed a growing number of foundations and wealthy individuals actively supporting this vigorous holistic movement which recognizes our single human family inhabiting the precious jewel called Earth.
We will continue to meet the future with renewed optimism and a deepened sense of purpose knowing there is an expanding and vibrant network of serving groups building a cohesive and lighted force for change and goodwill on the planet.
When I was a little girl, my father used to carry me around on his shoulders as we romped and played outside day or night, summer or winter. We both had great fun, much to the consternation of my mother who felt there was too much "rough housing". As I think of those moments now, far away in time, I feel our "family" of grantees elevating our world and inspiring us to be courageous in facing the challenges before us. We thank them for their dedicated work.
Barbara L. Valocore co-founded The Lifebridge Foundation with her father, Paul M. Hancock, in 1992. She has been President of the Board of Directors since that time.