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News / Clark County News

Record year for Community Foundation

$1.2 million in grants disbursed in 2015, most in charitable organization's history

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published: December 19, 2015, 6:01am

This year was a big year for the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington — the biggest, actually. In 2015, the nonprofit disbursed more than $1.2 million in discretionary grant money to nonprofits and charitable programs in Southwest Washington. That’s a 36 percent increase over last year and a record for the 31-year-old foundation.

The bump in funding can be attributed to a couple of things. The Meyer Memorial Trust gave $250,000 to this year’s and next year’s discretionary grants program. The grant was a farewell gift from the trust, which is returning to its original mission of supporting Oregon-based nonprofits. Also, bequest gifts, which are made to the Community Foundation at the end of a donor’s life, provided $241,530.

“It usually comes in chunks like that,” said Maury Harris, marketing and communications specialist at the Community Foundation.

Donors who don’t have a specific entity they want to support with their charitable dollars put it in the discretionary fund. They leave the decision-making to the foundation’s grant committee and staff. More than 65 charitable agencies applied for funding, and went through the competitive vetting process. In total, there was $1,223,810 to work with. The foundation supported 50 nonprofits with programs in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties.

Major Grants This Year

Major grants disbursed by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington in 2015:

• $91,320 to the Council for the Homeless’ Housing Relief Fund and Affordable Housing Initiative.

• $50,000 to the Clark County Health Department’s Adverse Childhood Experiences program.

• $50,000 to the Foundation for Healthy Generations' Healthy Living Collaborative.

• $30,000 to the Clark College Foundation.

• $30,000 to the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools for Kindergarten Jump Start.

To learn more about how the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington disburses its discretionary grant money, visit www.cfsww.org/nonprofits/grant-programs.

“Primarily, we’re still focusing on intergenerational poverty,” Harris said.

It’s a two-pronged approach: support programs that address immediate needs, as well as those that offer long-term solutions to poverty.

The Clark County Health Department received $50,000 toward its Adverse Childhood Experiences program. Science shows that adverse experiences early in life, such as poverty, displacement and poor nutrition, can lead to poor outcomes as people grow up. Likewise, the Healthy Living Collaborative that was also awarded $50,000 addresses social problems, such as poverty, that lead to poorer health. It’s about intervening and breaking the cycle, Harris said.

Vancouver’s Kindergarten Jump Start program and the Head Start program at Lower Columbia College in Longview each got $30,000 — another example of reaching kids early on to create a better future.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Council for the Homeless deals with people who are in crisis. The nonprofit received $61,320 for its Affordable Housing Initiative and $30,000 for the Housing Relief Fund.

“If there’s no house, obviously the priority is shelter, not education, for that family,” Harris said.

The Community Foundation considers 2015 a successful grant gifting year. More money translates to programs making a greater impact on the community, said Shona Carter, program officer at the foundation.

The application process for the next grant cycle opened earlier this month and ends Jan. 31. Nonprofits interested in applying can visit www.cfsww.org

Did You Know?

• The Meyer Memorial Trust was created by Fred G. Meyer, who launched the Fred Meyer chain and left $60 million for charitable spending when he died in 1978.

Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith