The mission of Merchants Fund is to provide financial assistance to current merchants in Philadelphia. TMF is a private foundation under Section 501 ( c ) the IRS statute. Fund distributes 5% of its assets annually. It is governed by a board of managers of up to 18 people. Merchants Fund is a Philadelphia charity established in 1854 to provide charitable gifts to business persons facing financial hardship. It evolved from the Mercantile Beneficial Association, an organization dedicated to providing business advice, networking opportunities, and protection from financial failure or default due to illness, old age, or disability at a time in our nation's history when there was no health or disability insurance, or pension plans. Merchants Fund has succeeded for nearly 150 years by keeping the goals and objectives of its early founders in a constantly changing social and economic environment. Patricia Blakely joined Merchants Fund in 2007 and was appointed Executive Director that same year. During her 25-year career in the non-profit sector, Ms. Blakely has led projects for an impressive range of area organizations, including the Charles Ellis Trust, the White-Williams Scholars program, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and others. Notable accomplishments include managing a $1 million program to distribute laptops to high-achieving, low-resource, Philadelphia-area students and developing guidance materials for "Student Success Centers" in eight of the the most under-served and racially isolated high schools in the City of Philadelphia. From 1995 until 2006, Ms. Blakely was lead administrator for a tuition/scholarship program targeting low-income girls from single parent homes, resulting in support for some 2000 students in over 200 schools and academic enrichment programs. She has been a consultant to the Philadelphia School District, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and served as a program evaluator for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Ms. Blakely holds a Master Degree in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in the History of Art from Bryn Mawr College.