Memphis on the Mind

Hal Howard, Jr. established the Crawford-Howard Foundation Fund in 1997 as a way to do good things for Memphis, the hometown he left early but never forgot.

When Bowen Howard and his sister, Sara Howard Garay (with their father, right), became principal trustees of the fund, managed at the Community Foundation, after their father’s death in 2015, a challenge awaited them: how to make wise choices that would benefit a city they hardly knew.

“Sara and I grew up in Connecticut,” Bowen (pictured below) says. “What we knew about Memphis came primarily from visits with our grandparents, and from listening to the ready supply of colorful stories about Memphis that Dad regaled us with through the years.”

So, the second generation of Crawford-Howard Foundation leaders set about doing their homework. They read and made phone calls. They talked with Community Foundation advisors and others to get a big picture of Memphis nonprofits. And they visited Memphis.

“We wanted to honor what Dad had supported, but we also felt we should look to the city’s changing and future needs,” Bowen says. “Dad was interested in preserving Memphis’ history, and we will continue those commitments. Education was also a major focus, but we have broadened the Foundation’s educational purview and looked at new opportunities.”

“We’ve been incredibly impressed with some of the educational initiatives going on in Memphis,” Sara says. “There are people here working with such passion, and working as a real community, and having a real impact in the lives of Memphis children. Meeting these people, talking to the kids, it’s been a wonderfully rewarding experience.” Among the Foundation’s education-related grantees since 2015 are Knowledge Quest, Frayser Community Schools, and Capstone Education Group.

“Dad was very smart,” Bowen says. “We think he saw the Foundation as a way to keep us tied to Memphis. And he was right.