The history of Frey Foundation starts long before the organization itself was founded. The foundation as we know it today is a reflection of the Frey family’s long-standing commitment to the community.
Eugene and Mary Frey both grew up in households where community service was a fundamental value. As a result, they became active in the community themselves – donating their time and funds to a wide a variety of causes, including the Boy Scouts, The University of St. Thomas, and Catholic Charities. Their children, in turn, also became interested in making a difference in their neighbors’ lives. Gene and Mary established Frey Foundation in 1985 to formalize the family tradition of giving.
During the Eighties and early Nineties, the Freys and their children spent time “learning the ropes” of running a family foundation. They held meetings annually, created a preliminary mission statement, and learned how to keep family members interested and involved in the foundation. At first, giving reflected primarily Gene and Mary’s existing charitable preferences, but as the foundation grew, the diversity of interests grew with it. Eventually the group decided to focus their attention on supportive affordable housing, education, health and human services, and civic organizations.
When the Frey family business, Waldorf Corporation, was sold in 1997, the foundation grew rapidly, causing several changes at the foundation. The family began meeting quarterly and opened a family office, Wabash Capital Management, to oversee the family’s and foundation’s financial and investment activities. At the same time, the family established two donor-advised funds – one with The Saint Paul Foundation and one with The Catholic Community Foundation.
In the years since Waldorf Corporation was sold, Frey Foundation has grown in size – giving the foundation the ability to support more organizations than ever before. The foundation has recently streamlined its grant process, solidified its areas of interest, and begun proactively seeking out non-profits that are engaged in creative change in the community.
For the Frey family, the foundation has become an integral part of family life and an important link between generations, including a new generation of Gene and Mary’s grandchildren. The grandchildren, who are active participants in the foundation, are ensuring that the family tradition of giving will have a bright future to match its distinguished past.
The Frey Foundation board of directors consists of three generations of Frey family members. Although all family members bring their ideas and interests to the group, only family members over the age of 21 have voting privileges. The current voting members of the board of directors are:
The board meets three times per year in June, September and December to review grant applications, award new grants, and discuss the direction of the foundation.