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5 Questions with Stu: Linda F. Poole, PhD

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A lifelong educator and educational leader, Linda Poole is the CEO of Educationally Speaking, a company that assists educators with improving student achievement through analysis of current status and research-based recommendations. She was a friend and the primary advisor to DCF fundholder Helen Eliason, who died in 2017. Linda is an advisor to the Fund for Children’s Literacy, a DCF fund Helen established, which has served as the catalyst for the multiagency Children’s Literacy Alliance of Delaware since 2015. Linda also was a member of Gov. John Carney’s transition team and is a current member of the board of the Partnership, Inc., the 501(c)(3) education affiliate of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

If there is one word I’d use to describe Linda Poole, it is passion. Linda has shown, through her career and volunteer activities, that she cares deeply about our children, and our collective future. She has provided counsel to DCF, and to educators and politicians for years upon years.  And she’s got a bit of inspiration in her, too:  “If every stable Delawarean would take hold of one child’s hand and not let go, equity would become reality.”  Enjoy her comments.

Dr. Linda F. Poole, with long-time friend and philanthropist, the late Helen Eliason.

Where do you see the greatest potential for philanthropy to drive change in Delaware?
The more we do for children, the stronger the state will become. We need to support programs and organizations that provide our young people with opportunities to problem solve, interact, be challenged, and be heard. Families need available counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Providing mental health services and breaking generational poverty through education and employment are key to stabilizing our state’s future.

If you could do one thing to increase equity in Delaware, what would you do?
Inequity begins at birth. To break the cycle, one must have access to alternative models of living. Both informal and formal education provide alternatives. Delaware must seek and support individuals who have the expertise and commitment to work with families that are struggling. These individuals need to know that they have the financial backing as well as the tools that are needed to serve those in greatest need. Jobs, health care, education, and housing are essentials – not options. If every stable Delawarean would take hold of one child’s hand and not let go, equity would become reality.

What are the greatest factors influencing your decisions when you consider opportunities you could support?
Central to my investment of time or funds is the direct impact to the cause I’m supporting. Prevention and advancement are two guideposts I look for. The earlier, more direct a service is provided, the better the chance of eliminating the problem rather than simply bandaging it. Providing a strong education to all of Delaware’s children, ensuring that they have nutritious food and providing them with safe, quality care are three pivotal services that will have a lifetime of impact.

How does your philanthropy contribute to expanding opportunities for people in Delaware?
Along with working with the Fund for Children’s Literacy and the Education and Greening Fund, I serve on the DCF Scholarship Review Committee. Scholarships managed through the Delaware Community Foundation are available to an enormous range of students of all ages and interests. Philanthropists who have established the scholarships are increasing the opportunities for Delawareans to reach their potential and accomplish their dreams. It is rewarding to serve in this way.

Is there a philanthropist or philanthropic organization that inspires you? IF so, why?
Helen L. Eliason was the consummate philanthropist. She wanted no honors or recognition. She gave to enable others to be successful. She gave to make Delaware stronger. Helen did her research and asked questions before investing time or money. Helen was a learner. She read everything and knew that words were important. She encouraged communication and collaboration among people and agencies. Even now, after her passing, Helen’s philanthropy continues in perpetuity to improve the quality of lives of Delawareans. Helen was my hero.