How the grant got started

For the last few years, I have expressed that when I retire from National Geographic I want to financially support photographer's personal projects. However, that would entail winning the lottery—which I played for the first time recently when it was up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Sadly, I did not win. I joke that I am going to start a kickstarter to support my kickstarters—I need money to give money. The thought of actually being able to personally support a photographer's work (in retirement) is as likely as being a princess when I was 5.  

So there I was sitting at Le Diplomate restaurant with my dear friend Patrick Witty in early February of this year. I told him about my wish to support photographers and maybe I can fund 5 photographers from a country (where $1000 grant to each would make a difference). Patrick replied that this was a great idea and that that kind of money would go a long way—but I had no connection to this country and had never been there.

Patrick then suggested, why don't you do a grant on an Alzheimer's photo project and and name it after your parents! My face lit up and I got so excited about the possibility of doing this. I could personally fund this with $5k a year and slowly let it grow into something more. This is what I have wanted to do—but did not think that I could actually do it and what it would entail. Patrick and I sat there for another hour brainstorming on how it would work and what it could become. From there I emailed the two people I run everything by—Vincent Musi and Andrew Cutraro—who helped me nail down the name and to jump on the domain, social media, etc.  

Ok, I think I can do this: I have the name, domain, email address and social media—all I have to do now is save the money and write a check once a year. Wrong! In chimes-in my dear friend Christina Piaia (founder of the Chris Hondros Fund) who tells me that I need to register it as a non-profit, write bylaws, appoint Board of Directors, etc. I wanted to cry.  This was more than I thought I could handle. But with the amazing help from Christina and so many other friends, this dream is actually starting to come true.  

Who knows, maybe I will still find my prince and become a princess.