Joanne Kagan

GIVING NEWSLETTER Fall/Winter 2023/2024

Our Foundation included some new charities in our giving this year. The following are highlights of news and events from organizations both recently selected and those receiving sustained support.

Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico Logo




A group of skiers in the snow
A group of skiers prepare for a day on the mountain with Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico


A newly approved grantee by the Foundation, the Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico’s (ASPNM) mission is to enhance the lives of children and adults with disabilities through recreation, opening up many life-enriching activities to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate. We are pleased to be supporting them. This winter, ASPNM found their registration for adaptive ski and snowboard athletes maxed out, though there were able to provide some private lessons and shorter programs for the avid and growing community.


When spring and summer come, ASPNM will be offering many multi-week, single-day, and overnight events. Some of the activities include:

Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, and Wake surfing:  ASPNM has the adaptive equipment for these activities and can open these to nearly any level of disability. ASPNM uses the many lakes around the state for these water sports.

Sailing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding:  New Mexico’s lakes provide a wonderful resource for adaptive kayaking and paddleboard adventures.

River Rafting:  ASPNM provides adaptive rafting adventures on the Rio Grande.

Rock Climbing, Golf, Fishing, Yoga…and more:  Adaptive Sports has programs for these, too!



rock climbers on an indoor wall
A group of climbers make it with support from the Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico

Cancer Foundation for New Mexico Logo


Helping to save lives by removing barriers and providing needed assistance to Northern New Mexicans with cancer seeking medical treatment in Santa Fe. The Jack Kagan Foundation is pleased to support them with a grant this year. The following are just a few of the people who have received their services:


David is a musician from Taos Pueblo who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January 2019.

“I am so blessed to have undergone my life saving treatment at the Regional Cancer Center. Everyone —and I mean everyone— at the institute has made my experience there so wonderful. It made me hopeful and feel seriously cared about. The staff and volunteers across the board are beautiful. What wonderful and positive attitudes. To me, this is one of the main reasons that I went from a diagnosis in January of stage 4 metastatic cancer to a full recovery of just a couple of tiny dots as of mid-June. I feel totally blessed to be treated there and have so much gratitude for you people.”









Blueflower is a member of the Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was determined to fight the disease with every tool available to her: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

“I couldn’t let everyone down,” she says, especially her supportive husband and four wonderful children, mother, and extended family, all of whom were with her every step of the way.

In addition to being unable to work during treatment, Blueflower had to travel from Ohkay Owingeh to Santa Fe, a distance over 30 miles. Sometimes she would get to treatment without enough gas to get home.

She said, “The mileage reimbursement and grocery cards were critical, and the Foundation provided help so quickly.”






Joel K. is a carpenter from Pojoaque. In May of 2014, he was diagnosed with throat cancer which required seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.

Photo of Joel

Fear of financial insecurity was incredibly stressful, as I wasn’t able to work during treatment. The Cancer Foundation really helped relieve that fear. I have been able to go through treatment stress-free and was able to focus on treatment and recovery. Thank you to all of you who support the Cancer Foundation. It made a big difference to me.”








Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating Logo



CRAB was recently featured in Power and Motor Yacht magazine:


Magazine Article


(Double Click to Enlarge)



CRAB Introduces New Wellness Programming

If you have ever experienced or volunteered at a CRAB sailing event, you know the power of CRAB’s therapeutic sailing programs. Now, CRAB has developed a wellness program that will be hosted in the Lawrence B. Taishoff building’s Don Backe Learning Center. The wellness programs offer guests therapeutic services of the same first-rate quality for which CRAB has become known.

CRAB has teamed up with other prominent adaptive therapy organizations in the community to provide this expanded service. This initiative is aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle for both the minds and bodies of CRAB guests.

people around a table

The inaugural program was held on Thursday, January 18th.  CRAB partnered with CJ Shiloh, Founder of Annapolis Music Therapy and Co-Founder of The Musical Autist. CJ brings extensive experience to the wellness program gained from teaching classes at Maryland Hall. In discussing the program, CJ said, “We provide goal-oriented and relationship-based music therapy services across the lifespan and in many different community settings.  You’ll find us in hospital settings, public and nonpublic school systems, memory care units, or seeing private clients at our main office on Riva Road. People know intrinsically the power of music, but when that power is harnessed through evidence-based practice, beautiful and therapeutic growth can occur!”

The professional field of music therapy is an allied health profession and requires a Maryland state license to practice. CJ will offer adaptive music classes for CRAB guests in the coming months. If you are interested in participating in a future program, please get in touch with Shannon Rohrer, CRAB Manager of Programs, for more information about CRAB’s wellness programs or to register:







Our Foundation is happy to add Dec My Room to this year’s grantees.


Woman delivering a grant
Lindy Gellenbeck, Jack Kagan Foundation Vice President, delivers a grant to Dec My Room


Dec My Room’s vision is to create personalized healing places for long term pediatric and young adult patients.

They enhance the lives of children who are admitted into a hospital for a prolonged amount of time, three weeks or longer. Volunteers personalize the hospital room upon their arrival with items that complement the special likes and interests of the individual patient. These items are for the patient to enjoy during their stay and take home when they leave. Dec My Room is a unique and innovative charitable program whose efforts help improve the attitudes of patients and their healing process.

Jonathon’s Story

When I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, it was one of the worst days of my life, but being told that in order to save my life I would have to stay in the hospital for most of nine months was even more devastating. Staring at the same four walls day in and day out, especially as a teenager, can get quite depressing.

I had been in the hospital a few months having intense chemotherapy and feeling too nauseated to even go in the hallways when a few people from “Dec My Room” showed up with all kinds of neat stuff for my room. I didn’t even know who they were or where they came from. But they came in and changed my dull hospital room into MY room. I suddenly felt like I was at home! I’m a big hunter and fisherman and they brought me everything from a camouflage comforter and sheets to a big ‘ol fish pillow that I could wrap around when I felt so sick. I didn’t feel like I was in solitary confinement anymore. I had my own things and my decorations to feel like a teenager again.

Once I was discharged in April after my last stay of 102 days in the hospital, I came home and decorated my room at home with the stuff from “Dec My Room”. That’s how much the things they gave me mean to me. When you are in the hospital with cancer, you lose all sense of humility and dignity because you spend your days being poked and prodded and your life feels as though it is no longer your own. Having these things to call my own and sheets to lay on that weren’t hospital white and scratchy helped me through one of the darkest times in my life. I will never forget this organization!

Coco’s Story

Coco was admitted for a prolonged hospital stay because she required pain management. Coco did not have the appetite to eat. Her parents were worried because she was refusing food and getting very weak. The hospital staff was trying to find something to lift her spirits. They called Dec My Room and requested a ” dec’ing” for Coco. They told us that Coco loves Hollywood. A Dec My Room team created a Hollywood room just for her. When the volunteers arrived Coco sat up in her bed and began to smile. That afternoon, Coco ate some Jell-O. Coco’s mom said that Dec made Coco feel like the world cares about her!






                                                           Rooms decorated for children                                                                                       Rooms decorated for children




A new project is underway, with continued support from JKF:




By Lake County Partners, Date: February 1, 2024

Imagine escaping your wheelchair and standing upright. Diveheart, a non-profit organization based in Downers Grove, Illinois, has been helping individuals with disabilities including physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain and more, do exactly that since 2001.

Diveheart provides unique adaptive scuba and scuba therapy programs that allow individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities to expand their mobility through the experience of being underwater in zero gravity.

Diveheart’s programs have benefitted children, veterans, and countless others and helped to revolutionize water rehabilitation. Now, the charity that introduced and expanded adaptive scuba around the world is building the world’s deepest warm water therapy pool – and with the help of Lake County Partners, the organization has chosen a site in Lake County, Illinois, for the facility because the location will benefit from the area’s immense life science and healthcare talent. Learn more about the proposed deep pool in this new video.

After completing a preliminary facility design, securing the second of two patents on the deep pool design, and finalizing a capital raise feasibility assessment, Diveheart recently revealed the proposed pool’s cutting-edge design and kicked off a major fundraising campaign.


Interior and Exterior of large building with indoor pool.
Artist’s rendering of the Diveheart Research and Education Facility (Deep Pool Project) once complete.


There are many great types of therapy, but in scuba diving we have the franchise on zero gravity,” said Diveheart Executive Director Tinamarie Hernandez. “It’s thrilling to help get someone out of their wheelchair and standing up underwater for the first time since their injury, or maybe for the first time in their lives,” she added.

Diveheart’s proposed deep pool will provide a way to scale up and help more people enjoy the physical health benefits of underwater zero gravity in a confined and safe warm water environment. The pool will be a worldwide destination for research, rehabilitation, education, and training, and it will provide vocational opportunities as well. The 130 ft. depth of the pool is important because it allows Diveheart to replicate the benefits of deep open water diving without the unknowns of weather, water movement, and other factors that limit opportunities for research and rehabilitation.

Currently, the world’s deepest recreational dive pool, at 200 feet, is located in Dubai, but no existing deep pool anywhere in the world is functional for adaptive scuba and scuba therapy, says Jim Elliott, Diveheart’s founder and president. However, the pool that Diveheart plans to build will meet this important need. The Diveheart team has focused on the medical and therapeutic benefits of scuba therapy since the organization’s founding over 23 years ago, and its experts have conducted international adaptive scuba symposiums and presented to medical groups around the world. In 2023, Diveheart presented to physicians from the Mayo Clinic on the benefits of scuba therapy, and the team will return for an encore presentation at another Mayo Clinic conference this spring.

You Tube video:





The Foundation is pleased to continue its support for the Central Florida Dreamplex, whose mission is to provide opportunity and inclusion for all persons, regardless of ability, for sport, recreation, therapy and employment.

Some of the ongoing and new activities:


Sled hockey athletes had a blast scrimmaging at a recent competition.

ice and sled hockey players
Dreamplex hockey players


Wheelchair Basketball

Dreamplex’s team will compete with other teams associated with the NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association) to bring home the National Championship trophy. View the team page on Facebook:  Orlando Magic Dreamers

These sessions are an opportunity to learn the game of wheelchair basketball, build confidence, meet new friends, have fun, and/or join the team to play competitive basketball.  Equipment is provided; the game is played in a gymnasium on a regulated basketball court and follows the same rules and concepts as typical basketball.

a group of children in wheelchairs with a basketball
Dreamplex Basketball Players




Wheelchair basketball players
Wheelchair basketball players


Track & Field

All ages of ambulatory and wheelchair para athletes are welcome!

disabled chlldren running on a track
Dreamplex athletes compete in Track & Field

Power Soccer

These sessions are an opportunity to learn the game of power soccer, enhance skills, and have fun! Open to all children and adults ages 6 and up who use a power chair. The game is played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court and follows most of the same rules and concepts as typical soccer.

Chile in wheelchair pushes soccer ball
Dreamplex adaptive soccer


Newsletter Spring/Summer 2023


Our Foundation continues its significant support to CRAB, who continue making enormous advances in meeting their mission

Most recently, after overcoming innumerable legal, financial, logistical, and other obstacles, they have launched an Adaptive Boating Center in Annapolis. This is a much-needed expansion due to ever increasing demand for their services. The Adaptive Boating Center is open year-round, with a 16-slip floating dock marina and increased adaptive boarding equipment. Certification courses, sailing and boating training courses, and therapy courses for people with disabilities will be incorporated into CRAB’s existing sailing programs and will continue to be offered free of charge.

The Don Backe Learning Center is at the heart of the Adaptive Boating Center facility. This universally accessible learning environment allows guests to participate year-round in CRAB educational and training programs.

Check out the videos below for more information:

The New Adaptive Boating Center

A View From Above



JKF Support for Diveheart continues to make a difference.

“Adapting to Dive” by Los Angeles filmmaker David Marsh won its 10th international film festival award.

The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival has made Adapting to Dive an Official Selection of its 2023 Festival. The filmmaker as well as Diveheart’s Founder and Executive Director encourage everyone in the dive community and the community of individuals with disabilities to watch and share the documentary.

Since its premiere in May, the documentary has received honors from ten film festivals including the Orlando International Film Festival, Cine Paris, Marina del Rey Film Festival, and Impact Doc awards. The film is now available on the popular streaming service Amazon Video, tubiTV, Roku and other streaming services. You can see it here:  Adapting To Dive

More Award-Winning Educational Video Productions

Diveheart’s video series, “Divers with Heart,” along with the videos “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Adaptive Dive Buddy & Advocate” and “Diving on the Autism Spectrum,” have been named finalists in the prestigious 2023 Sharecare Awards.

The “Divers with Heart” video series showcases the incredible journeys of adaptive scuba divers with various disabilities. These videos celebrate the power of determination, resilience, and the transformative impact of scuba diving on individuals’ lives.  You can view these and many more amazing videos here:

 More than Veterans

17-year-old Claire Christofori took her first underwater breaths in the swimming pool at Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex on June 17, and said she was looking forward to something even bigger: a body of water like Sarasota Bay where she might encounter marine life — maybe even a sea turtle. The Diveheart Scuba Experience had left her feeling “confident,” she said.

Her mother, Dawn Callahan, said that while Christofori, who has cerebral palsy, is unable to walk, she can enjoy freedom of movement and weightlessness in the water. As a result, Callahan began searching for a way Christofori could learn to scuba dive, eventually discovering Diveheart and its programs.

Read the full article here.


Neglected/Abused Children Find Advocacy for Court Appearances


Court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers make a life-changing difference for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. Our volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.

NMCF has supported over 120000 children this year, with priorities on emotional security safety and shelter.




ADW is now offering Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) classes, which utilize the Mission Based Trauma Recovery training model, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

WCC teaches warriors how to train service dogs for other veterans with disabilities. The dogs are trained to provide mobility support and to offer constant, non-judgmental, healing companionship to minds and bodies ravaged by war.

ADW is the first service dog agency in the United States to be partnered with the national Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit whose mission revolves around dog training. The organization is unique in that it enlists Warriors recovering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries to help train service dogs for their fellow veterans. By doing so, these service members re-learn valuable life skills.


a veteran and his service dog
A Veteran and his ADW Service Dog





An ADW Puppy
An ADW puppy looks forward to learning his life job



CFD held a volleyball sports clinic in August.

Participants learned about serving, setting, hitting and playing non-competitive games in this sports clinic in partnership with the Montverde Academy ladies volleyball team! Open to children and adults with physical disabilities and/or special needs, ages 7 and up.

children play volleyball
Children learn to play volleyball with Central Florida Dreamplex





Newsletter – Fall/Winter 2022

Our Foundation Boats Win!  

And so do the disabled, thanks to Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB)

The top 3 finishers in the 2022 Don Backe Memorial Regatta were on boats donated by the Jack Kagan Foundation, and proudly carried our logo on the sails. All skippers had a disability, and some had an additional disabled crew member on board. It was a great day on the water for the disabled skippers and their crews who made it the tightest regatta finish in CRAB history.

Sailboats in Regatta
The race is on in front of the Annapolis Yacht Club


The morning race was won Rob Klein on Little Bit.


People on sailboatRob Klein, Chris Murphy, Scott Gitchell and Amy Harris on Little Bit.  


Afternoon race winners included Tim McGee and crew on Lindy and Kevin Detwiler on Lainie, both boats donated by our Foundation.


People on sailboat

Kevin Detwiler, Walt Laird and Maude Laurence on Lainie


People holding trophy

Kevin Detwiler (center) won the Don Backe Memorial Regatta (photo courtesy of Paul Bollinger of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating). 

The overall winner, Kevin Detwiler was paralyzed at the age of 10 after being hit by a car while riding his bike. He started sailing with Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating in 1996. He remembers being a beginner and unable to balance well enough to sit in the cockpit.

After learning how to stabilize himself, Detwiler slowly but steadily learned how to steer the Freedom 20-footers previously used by CRAB. He has become quite a proficient sailor during the three decades since.

The annual tournament is held in memoriam of Don Backe, who was paralyzed in an auto accident, and always said he was saved by sailing. He was inspired to form a nonprofit organization that made sailing more accessible to people who are physically or developmentally challenged.

See the Capital Gazette article on the Regatta here.  A subscription will be requested for full access.

And, we’re especially excited about the development of the Adaptive Boating Center in Annapolis, MD!

From the CRAB website:

Unity in purpose, equality in accessibility, and equity in all activities and programs will make the CRAB Adaptive Boating Center the premier facility in the country, if not the world. It will symbolize the bright, blue handicapped sign in the parking lot, guaranteeing access to our beautiful Chesapeake Bay for everyone who never thought it would be possible because of their disability or challenges they face in life.”


JKF is pleased to continue supporting the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation

St. Vincent’s Hospital Foundation describes the HUGS program which has proven to decrease unnecessary Emergency Department visits by up to 64%:

H.U.G.S. – High Utilizer Group Services​

The H.U.G.S. program provides intensive, individualized case management services to high utilizers of the Emergency Department. This program primarily works with individuals who have co-occurring behavioral health and addiction issues, and with those who are disproportionately affected by the social determinants of health.

  • ​Patient Profile: homeless; long-term substance use; under/undiagnosed behavioral health needs
  • Complex medical needs resulting from chronic homelessness, substance use, and trauma
  • Example: alcoholic patient with multiple traumatic brain injuries from falling while intoxicated, unable to access Social Security Disability even though they qualify for it
  • Many of our H.U.G.S. patients are previous foster children with little or no natural supports or family connections

Program has a NO EJECT, NO REJECT policy and will help ANY patient who qualifies (many have been banned from other community service providers due to non-compliance and being “difficult”)

This program has proven to decrease unnecessary Emergency department visits by up to 64%.


JKF Board votes to support services and research for  Chiari and Syringomyelia through a grant to the Chiari and Syringomyelia Foundation (CSF)

What are Chiari and Syringomyelia??:  A Chiari malformation (CM) is a congenital (or rarely, acquired) abnormality in which the back compartment of the skull is too small for its contents, resulting in crowding of the neurological tissues. The lowest parts of the cerebellum are pushed down through the opening at the bottom of the skull, impairing the normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid into the spinal canal. The area of the brain often affected is responsible for controlling lots of things that you don’t have to think about like balance, breathing and swallowing.

Syringomyelia is a difficult, complex, and rare disorder. Sometimes simply referred to as a “spinal cord cyst” It is diagnosed through Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI), and occurs when a cavity forms inside the spinal cord. The cavity is caused by a build-up of fluid, resulting from a blockage.

That blockage can either be from a Chiari malformation, a spinal trauma, a tumor, or some other cause. Syringomyelia can cause stretching and, eventually, permanent injury to nerve fibers.

About the Non-Profit:  Bobby Jones CSF is currently the only organization serving patients with Chiari, syringomyelia, and related disorders to have earned all of the following distinctions: BBB Wise Giving Alliance Seal, Guidestar Platinum Seal, Health On the Net Code, and a score of 100 out of 100 on Charity Navigator.


JKF helping to knock out Parkinson’s disease! Punching Out Parkinson’s (POP) – Santa Fe

POP continues to make a real difference in the lives of those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease in the Santa Fe area. They are using the funds from JKF to upgrade boxing equipment, help find transportation for those wishing to participate who cannot drive, and launch sessions on improving and maintaining cognitive abilities.

Boxers with Parkinson's Disease
Punching Out Parkinson’s Boxers and Coaches


Not all the POP activities are about serious physical or mental exercise, though.  Come any Holiday, the boxers are ready for a party!

POP participants dressed for the holidays
POP Boxers Celebrate the Holidays in Style

MetaVivor Research and Support for Metastatic Breast Cancer Continues

Recent recipients of research awards from METAvivor include (below and linked here

Photos and descriptions of METAvivor research grant recipients
METAvivor research grant recipients

Our Foundation is helping New Mexico’s children through the New Mexico Children’s Foundation (NMCF)


New Mexico Children’s Foundation Grant Program, now in its 30th year, provides funding to small, community based non-profit programs designed to foster the physical, emotional, educational, and social development of New Mexico children and their families. Around 30 New Mexico nonprofit organizations have already received funding from NMCF for the 2022-2023 cycle.  Here is a recent video on their efforts:



New Mexico Children’s Foundation Profile from Crone’s Eye Collective on Vimeo.

Native American Challenges

Native American
Photo Credit: Lauren Lee/Stocksy


Jack Kagan valued being a contributing member of his local community. Supporting economically challenged groups in the community was part of his philanthropic mission.

The cultural significance of indigenous communities throughout the United States is substantial. The native peoples in this country have rich and diverse histories and customs that we continue to learn from today. Our understanding of the native cultures and the struggles they face can be used to deepen the way we think about history, art, geography, civics, engineering, and many other areas.  Unfortunately, the Native American communities in the United States have faced extreme hardships in the last few centuries. More recently, these important communities have been experiencing high levels of social and economic inequity. These communities have been disproportionately affected by climate change, and experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment than other racial groups.

For example, according to the US Government Accountability Office, “tens of thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives do not have safe drinking water or wastewater disposal in their homes.” Additionally, they have found that about 35% of Americans living on tribal lands lack access to broadband services, which can limit economic opportunity, education, and even public safety.

Challenges that Native people face are experienced socially, economically, culturally, and on many other fronts, and include but aren’t limited to:

  • Impoverishment and Unemployment
  • COVID-19 Pandemic After Effects
  • Violence against Women and Children
  • The Climate Crisis
  • Less Educational Opportunities
  • Inadequate Health and Mental Health Care
  • Continued Issues with Voting Rights
  • Native Languages are Being Threatened

There are currently 574 tribes recognized by the federal government, which are faced with these ongoing issues. The Native Americans, a diverse race of people, are subjected to racial abuse, societal discrimination, incorrect and inappropriate depictions in the media and arts, mental, spiritual, and physical violence, and much more. These historical and social hurdles have resulted in many Native Americans succumbing to physical and mental health challenges, as well as not being seen or heard by the rest of society. Many of these challenges are faced by the indigenous regardless of whether or not they live on a reservation. You can find much more information on these issues on sites including the Indian Law Resource Center, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  There are many ways to support our indigenous neighbors. Many local charities work to help provide clean water, medical services for the elderly and those in need, support fee-free spay and neuter clinics to curb the excess in stray pets, and a myriad of other innovative ways to help them thrive on often unforgiving land. In helping our neighbors, we help ourselves through reducing poverty, disease, and crime, and by buoying the health of all.

Our Foundation does not single out minorities, including Native Americans, for a specific mission.

We do, however, focus on all who are disadvantaged or disabled. Native Americans often fall into our areas of support because of the inherent challenges they face in today’s world. We support struggling Native American artists through our grants to the Southwestern Indian Arts Association, Native American children through the New Mexico Children’s Foundation, the ill through local medical charities, pets and animals through veterinary and shelter non-profits, and indirectly through our missions that focus on all children, improved medicine and medical services, veterans, and all in our communities.

You can support them in innumerable ways by talking to your local community representatives. You can also help by supporting our efforts. Please consider joining our team by donating here.



Thoughts from the Foundation

3 Ways to Help Orphans & Children in Foster Care


Currently in the United States, there are approximately 400,000 children in the foster care system.

While there are a variety of reasons for a child to be placed in foster care, many of these children are orphans. Jack Kagan was one of these orphaned children soon after his birth, and as such he became an avid supporter of orphans and children in foster care throughout his life.

Individual agencies and the families that adopt or foster children are doing vital work, but they require a support system to ensure the best possible outcome for each child. While not everyone is able to adopt or foster a child, there are a variety of things we can all do to help children in the foster care system. We offer three ideas in case you are interested in supporting these children in your community:

1.  Volunteer with local group homes for children. 

Because there are no longer orphanages in the United States, many children waiting to be adopted or reunified with their families stay in group homes, residential treatment centers, or modern boarding schools. These facilities are often in need of volunteers to help with food preparation, cleaning, and childcare. These types of facilities are typically run by the state, so you would need to contact your local government to get in touch with a volunteer coordinator.

2.  Donate new or gently used clothing, toys, and school supplies.

State-run facilities, charities, and individual families are always in need of clothing and supplies. To find out what items are needed most, contact local organizations in your area. You can even work with their volunteers to collect even more items from members of your community.

3.  Become a respite care provider.

Respite care providers are individuals that can take care of a foster child for a few days at a time in emergency situations. To become a respite care provider, you need to begin the certification process by reaching out to your local government or foster care agency. You will also submit an application to an individual foster care agency and go through a formal interview process before being accepted.

Here at the Jack Kagan Foundation we are dedicated to assisting organizations that help orphans, support children in foster care, and advocate for families in need.

We review, vet, then provide grants to organizations like the New Mexico Children’s Foundation, The YES Institute, The Birthday Party Project, Dreamplex, and others. To learn more about these organizations, see our Children page To support these and all of our vetted non-profit organizations, donate here.


What is a Family Foundation?

Image of Family in Clip Art

Here at the Jack Kagan Foundation we are proud to operate as a family foundation.

To honor the life of our father, our family wanted to ensure that the causes he was most passionate about are supported financially. To achieve this goal, we established a family foundation to provide grants to proven, effective charitable organizations that focus on our core mission areas.

Establishing a family foundation has enabled us to preserve and extend the legacy of Jack Kagan for years to come. But we also understand that our donors and supporters may have some trouble understanding what a family foundation does and how we operate. Here’s a breakdown to help answer some of your questions about family foundations, and information about how you can start your own foundation.

What is a family foundation?

A family foundation is a type of private foundation. ‘Private foundation’ is an umbrella term that includes corporate, independent, and some other foundations. These independent legal entities can then create grants from their various charitable endowments or trusts – essentially pools of donated money that provide a stream of income for long-term charitable purposes.

Family foundations are generally non-operational, meaning they do not themselves run programs or provide services. Instead, they govern the established pool of money and make disbursements or grants based on their own specific by-laws. Operational foundations, whether private or public, work to meet their mission through running active programs and services, employing people and volunteers to deliver and manage the organization.

A family foundation, specifically, is funded with the family’s assets and often run by family members who participate in its charitable grantmaking. In our case, Jack Kagan specified that his remaining assets be used to establish a charitable trust foundation in his name, to be governed by his children as the Trustees. A family governance system is needed to manage priorities, grant recommendations, and foundation goals.

What does a family foundation do?

Private family foundations achieve family giving goals and jumpstart multi-generational giving. At JKF, our main goal is to promote specific philanthropic causes including children, medicine, veterans, and the community. We conduct rigorous stewardship of all grants, donations, and gifts.

How do you start a family foundation?

It is relatively simple to establish the entity of a family foundation. The IRS has a complete set of steps and rules to follow, including the required rates of giving each year. We filed the necessary documents with the IRS to establish The Jack Kagan Foundation with Jack’s estate and assets forming the trust. His surviving children serve as Trustees – governing the mission, priorities, and making grant decisions. We retain an attorney to ensure our legal compliance, a CPA as necessary for tax purposes, with all other time spent on foundation business volunteered by the family.


The Jack Kagan Foundation was established as a private family foundation to continue and expand the philanthropic work that Jack Kagan himself conducted during his lifetime. He focused on helping others in need through organizations that had proven success.

To learn more about the Jack Kagan Foundation and to support our family foundation’s efforts, click here.


Service Dogs vs. Companion Dogs: What’s the Difference?

Dog paw resting on human hand

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” – Roger Caras

This quote resonates with our team here at the Jack Kagan Foundation. As animal lovers and advocates, we understand the many ways dogs can have a positive impact on people’s lives. Not only can dogs be used for emotional support and stress relief, but dogs are also capable of detecting serious medical issues. They have been providing much-needed assistance to individuals with disabilities since at least the early 1700s.

But it wasn’t until World War I that the modern guide dog movement began. Mustard gas left many young veterans permanently blind and in need of trained guide dogs to navigate their new world. Since then, dogs have been used for a variety of support purposes and types. For example, there are therapy dogs who visit or work in a healthcare or educational setting, The majority however are service dogs and companion dogs. These terms are often confused and erroneously considered to mean the same, but there are important distinctions between service dogs and companion dogs. These distinctions have been written into law through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Disabled veteran with his service dog
Pictured above: Charlie Linville, disabled Marine Corps veteran injured on duty in Afghanistan, and his service dog Devon. Devon was specially trained and provided to Devon by Canine Companions for Independence.

Service Dogs/Assistance Dogs

The ADA defines a service dog as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” This can include a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or any other mental disability. The term service dog is used interchangeably with assistance dog.

Service dogs, then, are specially trained to perform one or many specific tasks for their assigned individual. Tasks performed by a service dog include but are not limited to:

  • Guiding people who are blind
  • Alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Pulling a wheelchair and/or assisting the individual in a wheelchair
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having, or are about to have, a seizure
  • Assisting those with balance and stability issues
  • Reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • Interrupting impulsive or destructive behavior of those with neurological disabilities or other psychiatric issues
  • Helping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome by turning on lights, creating a buffer in public, and interrupting anxiety attacks or nightmares.

Companion Dogs/Emotional Support Dogs

Companion dogs, on the other hand, may not be specially trained to perform any specific task. While their designation must be supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist, or other mental health profession, they are NOT considered service dogs under the ADA and do not have access into public places. The principal service that these animals perform is emotional support to those suffering from anxiety disorders and to provide basic companionship. The Fair Housing Act does permit them to live in non-pet housing.

Service dogs are trained to behave impeccably in public. Companion dogs may or may not be as well-behaved in a crowd, and can be virtually indistinguishable from pets.

Our Foundation

Whether they are service or companion dogs, our Foundation recognizes the positive impact these animals have on people’s lives. Jack Kagan personally witnessed dogs improving the lives of many he served with during WWII. We support organizations that train and provide service animals to people in need, including Canine Companions For Independence, and Assistance Dogs Of The West.

If you’re interested in supporting a variety of organizations that help provide service dogs to veterans and other individuals in need, consider donating to the Jack Kagan Foundation today.

Assistance Dogs of the West
Pictured above: disabled woman is handed a leash by her service dog. This dog was specially trained and provided to the owner by Assistance Dogs of the West.