by Cara Gardner

When Nancy Schaub thinks of beauty, she's not imagining stylish clothes or fancy jewelry. For Schaub, beauty is not what sparkles and awes; it's what unfolds when people nurture positive changes.

This philosophy on beauty is part of what led Schaub to create the New Priorities Foundation (NPF). Founded in 1997, NPF funds an assortment of projects in the Inland Northwest that deal with issues surrounding environmental stewardship and healthy living. When speaking about the numerous projects NPF supports, Schaub illustrates her quest to encourage and support a beautiful world.

"I wanted to help the Spokane community be beautiful in every sense of the word," Schaub says. "What I believe, and what's motivated me, is when people have natural settings and their food comes from an open heart and they see [others] respecting the natural world, they will also want to take care of it."

NPF has helped fund multiple organizations, such as the Lands Council, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Thin Air Radio and Second Harvest Food Bank.

NPF is a private operating foundation and Schaub is the sole grantee. Though the money is funneled from one source, Schaub doesn't do the work alone. NPF has a board of seven, including the foundation's executive director, Patty Gates.

"When we first met as a board, we talked about this concept of creating beauty," explains Gates. "It's not only taking care of the environment. We think beauty is about taking care of our communities, families and ourselves."

Gates admits NPF's mission is broad, and notes one of the challenges for the foundation is choosing which projects to fund. Especially now, Gates says NPF is receiving more inquiries for increasingly basic infrastructure needs.

"It's sad that the money is short and the need is so high," agrees Schaub. "It's a scary time right now. This [presidential] administration is trashing so much environmental legislation."

NPF funds programs and organizations that may have a hard time receiving money otherwise; as a case in point, Gates recalls when she first met the "Tree Lady."

"This woman came to us and said, 'I have a very small idea,'" Gates says, smiling. "She wanted to plant trees in the front yards of low-income neighborhoods and on private property. We gave her $2,500 just to get her started. She went with it."

Carrie Anderson is the Tree Lady.

"I really knew nothing about NPF, but called Patty and just talked about my idea," says Anderson. "I had no funding at the time. They gave me that initial grant that emboldened and empowered me to take it further."

Anderson's idea is now a program in full swing. Trees For Your Neighborhood planted 35 trees last year and plans to get about 50 more in the ground next spring.

"It's a passion I have," Anderson says of her involvement with tree planting and preservation. "It's the way I see of making a difference."

Watching Anderson's "small idea" turn into a successful community greening program is what Schaub says NPF is all about.

"We kick start it to fruition, launch it and let it go."

New Priorities Foundation: 456-5977

Publication date: 08/07/03

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