Carrying the torch

The extraordinary entrepreneurs behind Hamilton’s iconic “Milli” women’s boutique, the Gould family, have a long tradition of philanthropy. Even in the early days of the store in the 1960s, founders Milli and Allen Gould provided support to the community in small, quiet ways. As the store flourished and the Milli brand took hold, Allen and Milli extended their philanthropy to a host of causes involving women, children, the Jewish community, and mental health. They left a tremendous legacy of generosity to Hamilton.

The next generation — Milli and Allen’s sons Mark and Ben and their families — has continued the tradition of giving back, managing a private foundation and other significant charitable endeavours. Recently, they established the Milli Fund at Hamilton Community Foundation.

“We’ve had our eye on HCF for quite some time,” says son Ben. “As entrepreneurs, we are interested in impact, efficiency, and effectiveness. The community foundation is impressive in its research, its understanding of community challenges, and its disciplined approach to addressing problems. We wanted to be more directly involved with that.”

The donor-advised Milli Fund endowed at HCF will focus on similar granting priorities to the Allen and Milli Gould Family Foundation. But Ben sees the HCF fund as an opportunity to benefit from the community foundation’s expertise. “We appreciate what HCF brings to the table,” he says. “Their skill in impact investing, their depth of knowledge, their enthusiasm for seeking solutions to Hamilton’s bigger problems — we have things to learn from the community foundation as we continue giving back to the community that is so supportive of the Milli brand.”