Vice president, community research and grants management, Columbus Foundation
About: Dan Sharpe joined the Columbus Foundation in 2004 and has served in various roles across the organization, rising to a position of leadership overseeing the development and implementation of grant policies, program priorities and strategic grantmaking. In 2020, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund awarded $5 million to nearly 150 organizations in a four-month period. Sharpe’s team also coordinated the past several Big Gives, raising a record $32 million for more than 1,000 central Ohio nonprofit organizations in 2020. The community research and grants management team plays a unique role in convening community discussions around areas of need and participating in community initiatives and partnerships to address these needs.
Our community needs to fiercely address the opportunity gap. It is unconscionable that two adjacent ZIP codes can experience a difference of more than a decade in life expectancy.
Outside of work: Ohio Wesleyan University Alumni Association, Central Ohio Sigma Chi Alumni Association, Athletic Club of Columbus governance committee, Seeds of Caring volunteer, Bexley United Methodist Church governance and administrative committees.
What does Columbus need to thrive? Our community needs to fiercely address the opportunity gap. It is unconscionable that two adjacent ZIP codes can experience a difference of more than a decade in life expectancy—43223 and 43215. The opportunity gap presents many challenges—health, housing, workforce, racial disparities, education, safety—and there is great momentum focused on these challenges. However, more earnest focus and serious commitment is needed to address the opportunity gap.
Sharpe’s idea: The Future 50 could recruit and connect skilled volunteers and board members by engaging existing infrastructure like Leadership Columbus, African American Leadership Academy and Besa to funnel talent to organizations in need. Those types of organizations are doing a fraction of this work, and only in an ad hoc fashion. Columbus does not have a resource where this type of talent can be found and paired. Great infrastructures are in place to get volunteers to fulfill transactional shifts (e.g., painting a community center or stocking a pantry), and great infrastructures are in place for connecting amazingly talented and benevolent networks. However, it all remains disconnected.