Episode 178 – Jacqueline Caster

Everychild Foundation: Jacqueline Caster’s philanthropic revolution
By LA Stories Staff Hollywood
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Apr. 29, 2024

Jacqueline Caster’s passion for philanthropy runs far back in her family. In the 1900s, her great-grandmother made waves as a dedicated philanthropist. Her grandparents were known to help their community, as well as her parents.

While working as a lawyer, consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Caster found herself attending gala after gala, all for philanthropic causes. As she began to wonder where all that money raised at these events were going, she realized there had to be a better way.

“My idea was to get a couple hundred women together each year that would each give $5,000, so we would have $1 million,” she said, “Give the money away to one local cause annually that had a dream project where we could make an impact, and see where the money went.”

On the latest episode of “LA Stories” with Giselle Fernandez, Caster shares about how she left her high-powered career in order to create the Everychild Foundation in 1999, following in the footsteps of her family.

Instead of spending countless hours planning galas, the women pooled their money together for one charity a year in what became known as a giving circle – a revolutionary model that has been replicated around the world.

With their focus on local nonprofit organizations that help children, Everychild was able to support important programs such as QueensCare mobile dentistry program, St. John’s Community Health, Vision to Learn, and many more.

To date, they have given away $22 million to local charities, with nearly all the money going directly to the organization.

“We’re set up for busy women who have a lot going on in their lives, but they want to use their brains for a good cause,” Caster said. “There’s so much need right here in Los Angeles, so many issues that we didn’t know about.”

About halfway through building the Everychild Foundation, Caster was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, something she kept private for a while, determined to not let it slow her down. The diagnosis brought devastating news, yet for Caster, it served as a poignant reminder that everyone faces challenges in life and could benefit from a dose of compassion.

While still working as the president of Everychild, she says she began what she calls her “third career”, advocating for juvenile justice reform. She served six years as a member of the Los Angeles County Probation Commission monitoring juvenile incarceration facilities and over a decade on The Campaign for Youth Justice.

For Caster, this is just another step towards creating a world where every child is valued, protected, and given the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

“The stories that we hear, the individual stories of how lives have been changed,” she said. “That’s the real joy.”

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