November 2004

Richard B. Adams, Jr., Fifth Generation Attorney
Leading Philanthropic Funding at Health Foundation of South Florida

by John Fries

For more than ten years, Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF) has been fostering and supporting a wide range of community-based efforts focused on improving the health status and well being of underserved individuals and families in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. During that time, nearly $49 million in program support and grants have been awarded by the Foundation.

Richard B. Adams, Jr. has been active with Health Foundation since its early days when he gladly provided pro bono legal counsel. In 1995, he was recruited to the board of directors. Today, Adams serves as Health FoundationÕs chairman of the board.

A Miami native and fifth-generation attorney, Adams is a senior partner at Adams & Adams, a civil litigation firm that was established by his family in the early 1950Õs. His practice, now in its 27th year, focuses on personal injury defense, professional malpractice lawsuits and insurance coverage issues.

He greatly enjoys his role with Health Foundation of South Florida. "IÕve worked with a number of charities," said Adams, "and Health Foundation gave me an opportunity to work with a foundation that has the funds to award to those organizations that are delivering needed health and health-related services in South Florida."

He speaks equally well of his fellow board members. "IÕm very pleased with our current board, and how serious each member is about granting money," he said.

According to Adams, the Foundation has about $135 million to administer. The more than 300 organizations that have benefited from Health Foundation grants include Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the Community Partnership for the Homeless, Shake-a-Leg, Miami and several womenÕs and childrenÕs charities. "We also sponsor scholarships at nursing schools in South Florida," he said. "Usually, thereÕs a provision that nurses spend two years working in South Florida after they graduate."

Also, just weeks ago, Health Foundation donated $50,000 to fund American Red Cross relief efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Charley.

Adams said that the Foundation also designates small grants for planning. "These grants of $20,000 or less are to organizations that are still shaping their focus. It enables them to describe and set up what they want to deliver." Twice a year, in February and July, Health Foundation announces grants.

"To be considered during these cycles, an organization must undergo a comprehensive application process," said Adams. The Foundation then retains outside investigators, often university professionals, to assist in the review of applications based on specific criteria. There are a number of areas that are examined. For example, "We look at an organizationÕs financial stability and long-term viability, and try to determine whether it has a good opportunity to become self-sustaining. Sometimes, weÕll review 100 applications and find 30 that will receive grants."

Adams said for the organizations that arenÕt chosen in a particular cycle, itÕs important to let them know why. "We sincerely want to help as many organizations as we can," he said. "And our objective is to help them get up and running so they can pursue other funding sources once a project is successful. But, sometimes there are problems on applications that can create difficulties. For example, if the services to be provided arenÕt as cost-efficient as they could be. In that case, the organization might consider reworking its plan and resubmitting for our next funding cycle."

Adams is one of South FloridaÕs most active trial lawyers. After earning a BachelorÕs degree at Washington & Lee University in 1974, he attended the University of Miami School of Law, and was awarded a Juris Doctor degree in 1977. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Fifth and Eleventh circuits and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

He has chaired several boards and served on many others, including Cedars Medical Center (also a legal client since 1981). He refers to the Health Foundation board as "the most active group of board members IÕve ever led," and said their dedication to the Foundation is so pronounced that the board has had nearly 100 percent attendance at all of its meetings.

"We built Health Foundation of South Florida without a model," he said. "Now, itÕs not a charity in the old sense of the word, but a not-for-profit corporation. And, weÕre sincere about what we do."

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