Not many people know that in my early 20’s I did a short stint as a broker trainee on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Those of you who know me (even a little bit) will understand why this career path didn’t pan out for me.
During our lunch breaks, while my peers were hungrily trading their way up the ladder, I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer - the radical German theologian who conspired against the Nazis during WWII.
Some people might say I was ill-suited to be a broker. But I actually think my main hang-up was that I was more interested in ideas of value than I was in placing bets, or speculating.
Whether we speculate on a business investment via the stock market, or a research strategy we decide is worth following, value is what we as humans are always after.
The problem is there’s so much detail to sift through to determine what's valuable and to whom. Which is why people need a guide - to find value and invest wisely. Which is why brokers exist: to find value for their investors.
As I was reflecting on all this a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that maybe I didn’t miss my calling. U2FP is in fact a broker - your broker - for curative therapies in the SCI Community.
Passage of the $1M Pennsylvania Spinal Cord Disability Research Grant Act is just one of the many great accomplishments your support helped us broker this past year.
This was a great value, beyond simply the dollars we gained toward SCI Research. Consider the following stipulations our Cure Advocacy Network (CAN) activists in PA wrote into the bill:
- The money stays in the state and creates a competitive process overseen by an Advisory Board who review the grants
- 3 of the Advisory Board members must either have a SCI or be family members of someone with a SCI
- The legislation prescribes an 8% threshold for indirect costs. Most big academic institutions in the US have between 50 - 60% indirect costs
This bill’s passage was largely enabled by our new part-time Advocacy Manager, Jake Beckstrom, and his ability to provide support to our CAN activists in Pennsylvania. We couldn’t have passed this legislation without them or the following investors:
- Alan Tholkes, whose targeted gift of $15,000 allowed us to bring Jake on board
- The good folks at the Canadian Spinal Research Organization (CSRO), whose sponsorship of my travel expenses allowed me to make all those legislative trips to the capital in Harrisburg
- And our Fuel the Journey monthly donors (of all amounts) who kept the gas in our tank
So let me ask you: do you want to see more value in the Cure Market? If so, consider making one of the following year-end gifts:
- A large, targeted investment (like Alan Tholkes’) to support this coming year’s CAN efforts in Ohio & Wisconsin
- A matching or employer-sponsored donation to support one of our on-going initiatives (as CSRO did)
- Become a Fuel the Journey monthly donor - or increase your existing monthly investment - to get us further down the road
In all our initiatives (our Working 2 Walk Symposium, Scientific Advisory Board, Team U2FP Chicago Marathon, The Cure Map film project, our CureCast podcast, Epidural-Stimulation web-conference call, Activity-Based Therapy initiative, and our Spinal Cord Injury Research & Advocacy Blog), U2FP acts as your broker to bring the SCI Community’s sense of urgency, priority and voice to the points in the “Cure Market” where there are still large gaps.
Last year we asked for your help to hire an advocacy manager and expand the reach and impact of our Cure Advocacy Network. Thanks to your investment, that happened!
I also mentioned wanting to leverage our state efforts into a federal effort. Happily, by the time you read this I will have had my first meeting exploring the formation of a multi-state consortium to take the first steps in leveraging all 15 state SCI research grant programs.
You’ve invested in us. We’re going to keep investing in you and our SCI Community.
Matthew Rodreick, Executive Director