Giving News

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.

Winter 2021/22 Foundation News

The Coronavirus outbreak impacted most events, activities, and mission delivery efforts by our supported organizations. Functions are resuming, however, with careful attention to health and safety of all. The following are a few notable recent events from the charities we support:


The Jack Kagan Foundation proudly continues our strong support for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB)

There are very exciting things going on in Annapolis, MD! The Jack Kagan Foundation is proud to be a continuing supporter of CRAB, and we are excited to share the following piece from their annual review:

Veterans Charity Event
CRAB hosts a Holiday party to thank their volunteers, participants, and crew

There are very exciting things going on in Annapolis, MD! The Jack Kagan Foundation is proud to be a continuing supporter of CRAB, and we are excited to share the following piece from their annual review:

“As we wrap up another successful year at CRAB, it’s a good time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and our goals for the future. In 2021 CRAB served 945 guests with 62% meeting our mission statement and 38% being caregivers, family, or friends. Guests enjoyed sailing during one or more of the 60 events such as -Regattas, Kids Sailing Camps, Group Sails, Family Sails, and Sailing Clinics. On the other side of the boat, 138 well trained and dedicated volunteer skippers and crew donated over 3,500 hours! It is a symbiotic relationship between our volunteers and guests who all love to go sailing on Chesapeake Bay. In 2022, our goal is to host more than 1,000 guests and over 25 nonprofits in the region (weather gods permitting).”

JKF is pleased to have supported CRAB through their endeavor to establish a marina dedicated to accessible boating. Local newspaper the Annapolis Patch talks about the new Adaptive Boating Center coming this year. The headline:  “SAILING NONPROFIT BUILDS MARINA FOR MARYLANDERS WITH DISABILITIES” Read the article here. 


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

New Mexico Children’s Foundation Grant Program, now in its 29th 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.

Thirty-four New Mexico organizations were chosen to receive funding for 2021-2022.

The Governor Bill Richardson-Peterson Zah COVID-19 Navajo Families Relief Fund provided face masks and hand sanitizer to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Children's Charity Foundation Vaccine Event
Pictured above are Beverlee McClure and Sergio Duran accepting supplies used for a March vaccine event for Native Americans living in Albuquerque. 700 people received COVID vaccinations as well as food and PPE distributions.

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”)

Program provides hands-on case management in the community

The H.U.G.S. program ‘Navigators’:

  • provide individualized needs assessments and referrals for long-term services;
  • address service coordination, medical care, behavioral support, and social needs;
  • provide services that are trauma-informed, crisis preventing, therapeutic brief interventions aimed at connecting individuals to long-term community-based services;
  • work with patients to address the root causes of frequent, unnecessary Emergency Department use;
  • provide and find services that are individualized and strategic to best support patient success; and
  • work in collaboration with patients to connect with community resources and therapeutic services to help them access appropriate levels of care, and meet previously unaddressed needs or reach goals that have been historically unsuccessful.

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.  Each year, you can catch Bobby Jones CSF in USA Today’s Giving Tuesday edition, among other nonprofits deemed as both effective in their missions and responsible with their donors’ dollars. 

The Foundation will be resuming in-person lectures this year as well as continuing their virtual Ask the Expert series.

CSF is holding a series of support meetings for children ages 6-9 with Chiari, syringomyelia and related disorders in January and February. 

Research News

International Patient Registry
A very brief, new survey will be available in the online patient registry by mid-January. This survey will explore the efficacy of a certain tool used on Chiari malformation patients.

Chiari Surgical Success Scale
Enrollment is beginning on the CSSS. In the next few months CSF plans to offer a video crash course on the study with Q&A. 


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. 

Not all the POP activities are about serious physical or mental exercise, though. Below are a few photos from their Halloween party in 2021. 



Photos of Punching Out Parkinson's Santa Fe staff, volunteers, and participants dressed for Halloween
Photos of staff, volunteers, and participants in Punching Out Parkinson’s Santa Fe dress in scary attire for the Halloween party

JKF honors the high point young/junior rider at regional show with the Dressage Club of New Mexico (DCNM) 

(formerly New Mexico Dressage – Rocky Mountain Dressage Association ((NMD-RMDS))

Our Foundation was pleased to sponsor the Young/Junior rider award at the Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation show in September 2021. The award was won by Katherine Nayak and included a plaque with the NMD-RMDS and JKF logos as well as a horse cooling blanket embroidered with the JKF logo. 

Junior/Young Rider Winner Kathry Nayak, with the horse cooler embossed with the JKF Logo
Pictured above: Katherine Nayak, recipient of the Young/Junior Rider Award (and a cooling blanket with the JKF logo)


JKF proudly continues its support for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA)

We are very pleased to have been able to support SWAIA through its rapid launch of a virtual international market last year. This year, the Indian Market took place in person, with safety and health restrictions. The Winter Market was also held in person, largely at the La Fonda hotel. This year, we are exited for the celebration that will mark the 100th anniversary of the annual Indian Market.

SWAIA attendees view the display of Native American art, including blankets, paintings, and crafts
Indian Market attendees admiring art by Beverly Blacksheep (Navajo) Photo: ©Shayla Blatchford for SWAIA

Excerpt from PRNewswire Dec. 6, 2021:

Santa Fe Indian Market Centennial

— The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), the non-profit that produces the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, is pleased to announce planning is underway for the Centennial Santa Fe Indian Market. Santa Fe Indian Market 2022 will be held on Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21.

Since 1922, Santa Fe Indian Market has been North America’s largest and most important juried Indigenous art market. Originally focused on the Indigenous art of the Southwest, the market has expanded its reach over the years to include Indigenous artists from all regions of the United States and Canada.

SWAIA will also present its first-ever Art Indigenous: a contemporary art show featuring sculpture, painting, photography, and performance from worldwide galleries exhibiting Indigenous artists from the United States and Canada.

The Santa Fe Indian Market, begun as a weekend art market, has grown into an Indigenous art mecca adopted by Santa Fe’s top galleries and cultural institutions. “2022 will be like none other for Indigenous art collectors and visitors to Santa Fe. The City of SantaFe is embracing our centennial and many of the leading galleries and institutions are producing Indigenous-themed content and producing shows by top Indigenous artists throughout the year,” said SWAIA’s executive director Kim Peone (Colville Confederated Tribes/Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians).

About SWAIA:
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) is a non-profit organization supporting Native American arts and culture. It creates economic and cultural opportunities for Native American artists by producing and promoting the Santa Fe Indian Market, the biggest and most prestigious Indian art event in the world since 1922; cultivating excellence and innovation across traditional and non-traditional art forms; and developing programs and events that support, promote, and honor Native artists year-round.

Summer 2020 Foundation News

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, many important activities held by the organizations supported by the Jack Kagan Foundation (JKF) have been canceled or delayed, as have JKF personal visits for grant delivery and program review. Shown here are a few examples, most from prior to the virus outbreak, of JKF representatives delivering grants in person, and/or conducting reviews of JKF funding results. 


Graduation Day at Canine Companions for Independence
Graduation Day at Canine Companions for Independence.


Veterans attend the program at Horses for Heroes – NM Inc.
Veterans attend the program at Horses for Heroes – NM Inc.


Rick Ianucci, Executive Director and instructor at Horses for Heroes – NM Inc.
Rick Ianucci, Executive Director and instructor at Horses for Heroes – NM Inc., points out where the new spiritual center will be built. Mr. Ianuccci is a retired U.S. Marshal and former Green Beret.


JKF representatives deliver a grant to Horses for Heroes – NM Inc. (HforH). Left to Right: Marc Kagan, Vice President JKF; Roslyn (Lindy) Kagan Gellenbeck, JKF Vice President; Nancy De Santis, HforH Program Development, Administration Manager, and instructor ; Rick Ianucci, HforH Executive Director and instructor; and Joanne Swanson Kagan, JKF Business Development Director.
JKF representatives deliver a grant to Horses for Heroes – NM Inc. (HforH). Left to Right: Marc Kagan, Vice President JKF; Roslyn (Lindy) Kagan Gellenbeck, JKF Vice President; Nancy De Santis, HforH Program Development, Administration Manager, and instructor ; Rick Ianucci, HforH Executive Director and instructor; and Joanne Swanson Kagan, JKF Business Development Director.


JKF representatives deliver a grant to Las Campanas Compadres
JKF representatives deliver a grant to Las Campanas Compadres (LCC) children’s therapeutic riding program. Left to Right, Suzanna Becerra, LCC Co-Founder; Joanne Swanson Kagan, JKF Business Development Director; Marc Kagan, JKF Vice President; Lawrence Becerra, LCC Co-Founder; and Karen Evans, Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) accredited instructor.


JKF representatives deliver a grant and conduct a review for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB)
JKF representatives deliver a grant and conduct a review for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB). The modified sailboat and accessibility equipment pictured was purchased with a grant from the JKF, and this craft was named the “Little Bit” in honor of Jack Kagan’s favorite boat name. CRAB also ensured the JKF logo was prominently displayed on the sail. This is the first of three modified sailboats the Foundation is granting to CRAB.


Sailboat granted to CRAB by Jack Kagan Foundation
Pictured above is the second of three sailboats to be granted to CRAB by the JKF. This is the “Lainie,” named for Jack’s deceased ex-wife and mother of Marc, Joel, Roslyn (Lindy) and Andrea.


regatta held on the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis
The “Little Bit” and the “Lainie” show their colors during a regatta held on the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis (top) and under sail near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (bottom).


SWAIA Executive Director Kim Peone
The SouthWestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) announces the 2020 Santa Fe Indian Market will be held via a virtual platform for the entire month of August. Artists, dances, performances, presentations, and more will be featured through a virtual platform for the first time using posted video and photos. This is very exciting since the reach will now be global, and traveling kept to a minimum due to the pandemic. The Jack Kagan Foundation is proudly supporting this effort. Bottom photo above:  SWAIA Executive Director Kim Peone; JKF Vice President Marc Kagan, and JKF Business Development Director Joanne Swanson Kagan.


present a grant to the Winter Garden Art Association
Jack Kagan Foundation President Joel Kagan and his wife, Grant Coordinator Yuka Kagan, present a grant to the Winter Garden Art Association via Board member and artist Noreen Coup.