Anne Murry Hileman, Connelly Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer, Scholarships Program Coordinator

FUNDING AREAS: Early education, K-12 education, postsecondary education, professional development, and Catholic schools

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: If there's one thing that stands out in Hileman's approach, it's her history of building long-term funding relationships with non-profit partners.

PROFILE: With two decades on the Connelly Foundation's program staff, Senior Program Officer Anne Murry Hileman has seen the foundation's commitment to learning evolve. She joined Connelly in 1995 as its strategy shifted to focus more on learning, and since then the education strategy has only gotten stronger. Bottom line, Hileman deserves the attention of Philadelphia's education nonprofits.

Connelly's education grants annually account for more than half of the giving at the foundation. And in terms of its support for early education, Connelly is a major player in Philadelphia.

One thing to keep in mind: The foundation's definition of education has a wide scope, including everything from traditional academic enrichment programs to learning opportunities for elder Philadelphians. This strategy can make it difficult for early ed groups to set themselves apart from the rest. Plus, Catholic schools —a focus of the foundation since its inception—continue to command a great deal of attention from Connelly. And in this realm she certainly knows of what she grants; prior to joining the Connelly Foundation, she served as Executive Director of Business Leadership Organized For Catholic Schools for more than eight years.

For those seeking funds, the competition can be discouraging, but there are enough grant dollars to go around. The key here is increased preparation, researching the foundation's past grantmaking strategy and aligning with those principles.

So what does Hileman's work as program officer reveal? For one, the foundation has long fostered partnerships in the Greater Philadelphia area, providing long-term support to sustain projects and ensure they develop.

An example from early education would be Connelly's support of the Children's Literacy Initiative (CLI), a reading intervention program established in 1988. For the past three years, the foundation has supported CLI's expansion of "Blueprint for Literacy" into local parish schools. In 2010 the foundation awarded roughly $50,000 in grants for early program support, and more recently Connelly made major contributions—a little more than $1 million combined over the two years—to foster the expansion of the program at the pre-K level in 14 Catholic schools in the area.

Of course, this is just one example, but it says a few things about the way Hileman and the rest of the Connelly staff award grants. First, the foundation has a history of supporting established nonprofits. "Strong leadership" is a major funding criteria, which is a common theme among the nonprofits the foundation works with.

That's not to say newer organizations won't receive funding from Connelly, but it seems it might be more difficult considering the foundation's grantmaking history. For newer groups, it's essential to prove effective leadership and to highlight your organization's goals and financial viability.

The support for CLI's expansion also shows Hileman's and the foundation's history of establishing partnerships with its grantees. The foundation has a history of providing multiyear support for specific projects—which was the case with CLI —or continued program and general operating support to a network of longtime grantees.