The Eric D. Hovde and Steven D. Hovde Foundation (“The Hovde Foundation”) was founded in 1998 to support two central missions – clinical research to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and charitable relief for those in desperate need. The Hovde Foundation builds and finances the “Hovde Houses”, which are homes that provide shelter, supportive services, education and love to vulnerable street children. The Hovde Foundation has established Hovde Houses in Mexico City; Huanuco, Peru; Winneba, Ghana; Kigali, Rwanda; and Mombasa, Kenya. The Hovde Foundation has also funded a homeless shelter for children and their parents complete with case work managers and job training, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Eric Hovde’s extensive travels in developing countries alerted him to a population, indeed the most vulnerable, in desperate need of assistance: homeless children. While in Romania after the fall of communism, Eric witnessed firsthand the deplorable living conditions that thousands of young children were forced to face, as their state-run orphanages were shuttered. This experience led Eric to conceive of the ‘Hovde House’ concept, and to connect initially with World Vision as a potential partner. With World Vision, Eric and Steve visited its programs in several countries, and along with teams of Hovde employees contributed many hours of volunteer labor, for example on the rebuilding efforts in Kosovo in 2001.
After considerable research and with the guidance of World Vision, in 2006 Eric selected Mexico City as the site of the first Hovde House, a home that would go on to provide housing, supportive services, and love to more than 200 homeless children.
Currently, the Hovde Foundation supports six Hovde Houses: one in Madison, WI, two in Latin America and three in Africa.
Our goal is to have twenty Hovde Houses over the next twenty years, adhering to the following criteria and philosophies:
Site/Partner Selection: For our international Hovde Houses, we carefully select countries that are open to foreign involvement, not hostile toward Americans, and where rule of law, children’s rights, and property rights are respected and enforceable. Critically important in project selection is identifying an appropriate local operating partner organization with ample experience working with vulnerable children and a business-minded focus on long-term sustainability.
Sustainability: Our preferred project model, similar to the Ronald McDonald House concept, is to finance the construction or acquisition of a suitable home and retain title to the land and building. We team up with an established local partner who is responsible for operations of each Hovde House. We cover all operational costs of the home through its first 2-3 years and then decrease funding as the local organization becomes more self-sustainable, often through other fundraising and development of revenue generating businesses. At such time as the local partner becomes self-sufficient, and assuming dutiful fulfillment of its role and responsibilities, we will transfer ownership of the land and building to the partner organization at no cost.
Social Impact Investing: We consider ourselves social impact investors — not just donors. Taking a seat on the board of each partner organization, we often assume a leadership role and assist with fundraising, networking, and operational support. Depending on the partner’s strengths and experience, we help with project design, development and implementation through construction. Additionally, we will allocate resources to the development of local for-profit businesses geared to fund the long-term operations of each Hovde House. We strongly believe in the intersection of philanthropy and business, and that true sustainability for non-profits comes through for-profit enterprises.