Setting the Stage for Future Generations

For John and Jean Geisler, doing good together has been a long-time family affair.

To facilitate their giving, John and Jean opened the John and Jean Geisler Family Fund at the Minneapolis Foundation. Recently, they decided to take the next step and involve their three daughters in their philanthropy. To get started, they had a family meeting facilitated by their Philanthropic Advisor to re-affirm the core values behind their giving.

Jean, Liz, and John Geisler

Jean, Liz, and John Geisler

“We’ve always believed in the impact philanthropy can have, and we wanted our girls to experience it firsthand,” John says.

John and Jean decided to empower their daughters to discover the impact they wanted to have and how they’d like to achieve it. They asked their daughters to work individually with their family’s Philanthropic Advisor to define a charitable goal and research organizations they were interested in supporting. The only condition was that the girls had to also get involved with the organization.

“Giving the dollars is one thing,” John explains. “But when you get involved, you really have a chance to see the impact.”

Now a fashion designer and business owner, Liz (their middle daughter) is thankful that her parents exposed her to many different arts experiences as a kid. “I know there are so many kids out there who never get to have that chance.”

When challenged by her parents, Liz immediately had a goal in mind: to provide an arts experience to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have it. Liz visited several programs, but nothing was quite clicking. Then her Advisor introduced her to an opportunity at Minneapolis College Prep – a new and promising public charter school in North Minneapolis. The school, which serves mostly low-income students of color, did not have much in the way of extracurricular programming.

“As soon as we met with James (the principal) and met the kids, it was obvious that this was such a great school and they could really benefit from having an arts education,” Liz says. Together, Liz and her parents made sure that the high school students at Minneapolis College Prep got that chance. Through their support, the school entered into a partnership with Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts to begin a theatre program. When it came time for the students to prepare for their end-of-year performance, Liz was right in the middle of the excitement, putting together costumes for the performers.

Liz attended the performance with her dad and one of her sisters. “I don’t know if there are words to describe how it felt to see the kids perform,” Liz said. Once-shy students sang solos, found rhythm on the drums, and hit all the right notes on the piano. And Liz learned a valuable lesson she’d like to share with others.

“Have a goal for your giving,” she says. “I could have given art supplies to a school, but I knew I wanted to provide an experience.”

Her family couldn’t be more proud that she did.