Local Family Awards $600,000 in Grants to Help End Generational Poverty in Central Oklahoma

Rees family watches a mother and her daughter playing on a swing in the park
Ken Rees and daughter Susan Wright look on as a recent ReMerge graduate plays with her daughter. The Rees family uses their advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to award multi-year grants to organizations like ReMerge that are working to end generational poverty in central Oklahoma. (Photo by Brandon Snider)

Oklahoma City-area philanthropists Ken and Gae Rees and family recently awarded $600,000 in grants from their donor advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to two local organizations with programs that aim to end generational poverty in central Oklahoma.

Through the Ken and Gae Rees Family Fund, the family awarded a three-year $500,000 grant to Parent Promise for an in-home family support program designed to work with overburdened families who are at risk for child abuse and neglect. Originally the Exchange Club Center, Parent Promise has been helping at-risk families in Oklahoma County build resiliency and improve their education and employment situations for 30 years.

“The generosity of the Rees Family has allowed our organization to increase the number of children and families we serve and improve the effectiveness of our home-based parent support program,” said Sherry Fair, executive director of Parent Promise. “With the variety of programs we now offer, we can better meet the needs of more families and help more children break out of the vicious cycle of poverty on their journey to adulthood.”

In addition, the Rees family awarded a two-year $100,000 grant to Bridges of Norman to support a diversion and intervention program for students who are at risk for homelessness. For 20 years, Bridges has been helping teens in central Oklahoma complete high school and transition into contributing members of their community.

A graduate of Edmond Public Schools, Ken Rees and his wife, Gae, have helped launch and grow several community organizations including the Edmond Public Schools Foundation and the Edmond Fine Arts Institute. They established their advised fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 2003 to construct a model of giving for their family. In 2013, they launched a competitive grant process to award multi-year grants to charitable organizations working to break the cycle of generational poverty in central Oklahoma. Previously, the family awarded grants to the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County and ReMerge Oklahoma.

“Our family decided long ago the focus of our giving would be to make a difference for those children and families who seemed to be trapped in poverty for more than one generation,” said Ken Rees. “We know that our efforts can only begin to make a difference, but we hope they may highlight successful strategies that more can get behind.”

“The Rees family is just one example of how the Community Foundation can help connect donors to causes they care about,” said Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. “This generous family had a vision of how they wanted to help their community. We were honored to provide a charitable vehicle that helps them accomplish that.”

Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that works with donors throughout the state to create charitable funds that will benefit our community both now and in the future. For more information, visit www.occf.org.

Note to Media: Photo Attached.