Mark Moore was just 46 years old when he suffered two strokes within 48 hours. On a typical May day back in 2007, the seemingly healthy Virginian coached his son's baseball practice and later went to grab a Mother's Day card. He started feeling unwell on the field, and as symptoms rapidly progressed, was forced to sit on a flower bed as he called for help.
Moore was first diagnosed with a mini-stroke, but his wife Brenda, a former nurse, demanded more tests. Not long later, Moore blacked out, suffering from a second blood clot. He woke up from a surgical coma six weeks later and began a long road to recovery. A year later, he made good on his promise to run a 5K on the anniversary of his ordeal.
Moore sold his company, mindSHIFT Technologies, for a sizable sum, joining a handful of African-Americans who've scored big in the tech sector, and embarked on a new focus in life with his wife—philanthropy. The couple steers the Mark and Brenda Moore and Family Foundation, a charity they founded at the start of the decade. Ultimately, they plan to give away $500 million.
So far, the Moores have focused on healthcare, education, arts and culture, and Christian evangelism in their giving. Moore recently authored a book on his experiences, A Stroke of Faith, and I spoke with the couple to get a better sense of their story.
Unsurprisingly, personal forces loom large for the Moores in their giving. They told me that for them, philanthropy isn't just about writing a check, but about living a life of service. For instance, not only do they support a local affiliate of the American Heart Association, but they also reach out to stroke victims by serving as ambassadors for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s EmPOWERED To Serve program.
As Moore puts it, "Sometimes in life, you’re given a second chance. I became convinced that this was my calling to do something else.”
Moore sits on the INOVA Health Care Service Board and INOVA’s Mount Vernon Hospital Quality Board. The Moores are donors to Inova Health System, home to the Mark and Brenda Moore Patient Tower at the Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, where Moore was treated. The foundation also funded the radiology unit of INOVA Loudoun Hospital’s emergency department.
Moore and Brenda also support educational causes, particularly the Posse Foundation, which helps first-generation college students (Moore was the first in his family to go to college), and Hopkins House, a historic nursery school in Alexandria, Virginia, founded during the racially segregated 1930s. Brenda tells me that the couple is strongly interested in education from the beginning (early childhood) to the end (college completion).
The Moores are founding donors of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, having given at least $1 million to the new museum. They're also patrons of their local Antioch Baptist Church, providing scholarships for people graduating from high school and beyond.
So far, the Moores have given away some $7.5 million through their family foundation, so they have a way to go toward their ambition to give $500 million. Brenda also echoed a sentiment we've noted before regarding black philanthropists, when she stressed to me the idea that anyone can be a philanthropist, simply by giving "whatever you have."
The Mark and Brenda Moore Family Foundation keeps a low profile and seeks out organizations and initiatives that are meaningful to them. For a full overview of the Moore family's work, read our Tech Profile linked below.