For Charles Lu, one of the advisors of the Lu Family Fund at San Diego Foundation (SDF), his family’s motivation to start a donor-advised fund through SDF was spurred by the creation of the Black Community Investment Fund in October 2020.

“We care deeply about social impact issues,” Lu said. “At that time, San Diego Foundation had come up with the Black Community Investment Fund that supports racial equity and generational wealth for Black families.”

“We saw the San Diego Foundation really begin to get involved with racial and social justice in a very unapologetic way that made us excited to want to contribute and also be a part of and create a fund with the Foundation.”

As a family that immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, many nonprofits they give to are focused on serving new arrivals.

“A big part of [our giving] also stems from our own experiences and the hardships our family faced related to immigration and the immigrant experience,” Charles said, noting that he is the first in his extended family to be born in the U.S. “Things like English language services, immigrant rights, and education, of course, is the focal point of our philanthropy.”

Supporting Higher Education

Education is an essential focus for Charles, who was a first-generation college student. His passion for education allows him to pay it forward as Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Johns Hopkins University and as Board President of Ivory Bridges Foundation, a San Diego-based nonprofit that provides a year of enrichment and support to first-generation college seniors.

Reality Changers

Another organization that he loves and supports is Reality Changers, a local nonprofit that provides college access and success support services to first-generation high school students. When he met Reality Changers President and CEO Tamara Craver through a mutual friend, he learned about the organization and its work.

“That’s when I just learned, wow, this is an amazing organization that does great things for the next wave of first-generation college students who are preparing to go to college,” Charles shared.

That initial meeting and introduction to Reality Changers eventually turned into a partnership with Ivory Bridges.

“We were able to work on a partnership where we tailor information sessions for Reality Changers’ alumni,” he said.

“On our application, we track who is a Reality Changers applicant. Every single year since we started, we’ve always had alumni from Reality Changers as part of the program. That’s been a great opportunity to work with Reality Changers to sponsor and support some of their alumni.”

Starting Off Right

Since starting the Lu Family Fund, Charles has had an excellent experience with SDF staff.

Julia Grant has just been a really great liaison to help think through and brainstorm what organizations might be good to contribute to,” he said. He also credits her with his family’s ability to build and sustain a relationship with SDF.

“Julia has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “That relationship was important from the very get-go – I felt like I had a liaison at the Foundation. I’m grateful for that relationship and to Julia for inviting us to various events and for keeping us posted on the tremendous things going on in the San Diego area. Having an ambassador like Julia to our fund really helps us feel like we’re a valued member and part of the San Diego Foundation family.”

Thanks to the assistance he receives, he finds it easy for him and his family to give through their fund.

“I talk to my financial advisor and we decide on how much money we’re going to contribute to our fund,” Charles shared. “And, basically, I just get out of the way. Julia is really the person that works directly with our financial advisor to make that [giving] happen.”

Identifying as a Philanthropist

The creation of the Lu Family Fund at SDF has also opened another identity to Charles, one that he hadn’t considered before – as a philanthropist.

Anthony Heaven
Anthony Heaven, Vice President, Graham-Pelton

“In celebration of AAPI heritage month, I was invited to and served on a philanthropy panel focused on AAPI fundraising and giving,” he said. “The moderator of that panel, Anthony Heaven, Vice President at Graham-Pelton, helped push my thinking on my own identity as a philanthropist. In my head, I had this archetype of a philanthropist being like a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller; people in history that tend to be, frankly, older white men.

“I don’t fit into that mold. And it’s so interesting to me, because my research is on science identity, which explores how people recognize themselves as scientists, or not. And even though that’s my area of research, I never thought about how that could translate into philanthropy.”

With society becoming more multicultural and the country being at the precipice of generational wealth exchanging hands within the next decade, Charles said that the face of philanthropy can change.

“One of the things that I love about San Diego Foundation is that you are at the cutting edge of being able to lead these efforts. You are poised to educate upcoming philanthropists about the power of giving and transform the archetype of what a philanthropist looks like for future generations,” he shared.

Are you ready to make an impact? Explore the many ways to give with SDF to jumpstart your philanthropic journey.