Involved and making a difference.
Having worked internationally for a large part of their careers, the founders felt initially driven to help international causes and to give Close Friend Foundation a global reach. After a few years of supporting causes in Cambodia they came to realize what now seems obvious – being involved in more local causes enables them to achieve better results. We also learned that we could have a more substantial positive impact for small and underserved causes. These principles of being more local, more involved and focusing on underserved needs, guide our Foundation’s philosophy today.
We are grateful that we are able share our resources with others. The ability to give brings with it a responsibility to give wisely. This is why Close Friend Foundation's founders choose to give in a way in which they are involved in the cause, and to attract the giving of others. We leverage their own financial and creative resources with those of others to maximize measurable near term results.
Library at the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Story of the "Close Friend" Painting
Close Friend Foundation was established in 2009 by John and Marty Howard as the John and Martha Howard Foundation. Soon after, the Howards were traveling in Cambodia and encountered the painting "Close Friend" by artist Thana Chuong. The painting depicts a young boy reaching up to his family's buffalo, residing beneath the home constructed on stilts per the custom. The water buffalo, the artist's "close friend," symbolizes the causes that the Howards identify as close friends, organizations that can benefit from their financial resources and business expertise.
The Foundation's Evolution
Based in Southwest Florida, Close Friend focuses on local issues affecting quality of life in the greater Naples area and Ft. Myers, located in Collier and Lee Counties respectively. We support initiatives in the environment, health care, women and children's well-being, and cultural arts. A unifying thread of our work is the support of educational initiatives within each area. We adopt the broad interpretation of "education" to mean awareness raising, science, research and training, and counseling those in need. Programs and organizations we support have a strong educational component within at least one of our areas of interest.
Close Friend Foundation:
contributes financial support, creativity and business solutions;
ensures that initiatives proceed according to plan and due diligence;
assists in raising awareness and additional funding from third parties.