Excellence in Philanthropy: Gail Olson

Congratulations to Gail Olson, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in Philanthropy!

The Award for Excellence in Philanthropy recognizes an individual or organization that:

  • Supports community building by bringing investment and resources to the human or physical dimensions of places.

  • Supports long-term commitments to neighborhoods.

  • Demonstrates creative thinking in how to support communities.

  • Gets involved beyond traditional grant giving.

  • Provides operational funding to community building nonprofits.

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Over the past ten years, Gail Olson has focused on restoring the College Hill neighborhood in North St. Louis City. She has regularly called on her friends and colleagues to join her in supporting the community. Gail is a co-founder of the Women on Mission St. Louis giving circle, where she serves as Director of Board Recruitment. Together with friends and neighbors, Women on Mission has helped provide grants totaling $685,000 to nonprofits working in College Hill, which in turn provide programs that have touched more than 400 area families. Women on Mission recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

Gail has been integral to the creation of six community gardens, the provision of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners to residents, the donation of more than 12,000 backpacks to local school children, the founding of a reading program at Bryan Hill Elementary, the purchase and installation of air conditioners and furnaces for elderly residents in College Hill, and the provision of care baskets to those in need. She has also led a grassroots effort to start a restoration nonprofit College Hill foundation that serves as a community development corporation for the community, and she serves as president of the organization.

Gail approaches her work with great care and humility. She sees a need and responds without expectation of recognition, often referring to herself as “just a volunteer.”


We hope you can join us to celebrate Gail’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!