Foundation Sharpens its Focus, Expands Services in 2013

The Community Foundation continued its series of needs assessments in 2013 with a spotlight on early childhood services and child care. We found that despite the best efforts of many excellent organizations, some parents in our region who work outside the home still have trouble finding high-quality, affordable care. That challenge grew tougher in 2013 as the federal government’s budget sequestration eliminated some funding streams for early childhood programs.

Based on our research, the Foundation’s Board has decided to address child care in our region in 2014, using a request for proposal (RFP) process to identify programs for major support. This RFP is part of our recent initiative to tailor grantmaking to specific community needs. We’re looking across the generations and populations that make up our communities, trying to pinpoint the most urgent issues and decide how to invest in meeting those needs.

In 2013, as a result of an earlier assessment and RFP, we awarded $50,000 for a collaborative program designed to serve teens (read more here). After focusing on young children in 2014, we hope next to concentrate on issues facing seniors.

As we move toward more effective grantmaking, the Foundation will focus its strategic planning for the next three years on how we make grants. We also plan to bring more topical experts onto our grants panels—for example, adding more educators to the group that reviews grant proposals for educational programs.

Besides refining the grantmaking process, the Foundation used 2013 to expand its services to nonprofit organizations. Throughout our region, we’ve provided in-person consultations to help nonprofits better align their grant requests with our funding priorities. We’ve offered more technical assistance, both one-on-one and through a series of grant writing workshops held in each of our five counties. On request, Foundation staff have also provided customized technical assistance on governance, succession planning and other issues that affect an organization’s capacity to serve the community.

We’ve lent space in our office to nonprofits that needed a room for meetings. We’ve also continued to showcase the work of some of our region’s fine artists in our conference room.

Even as more nonprofits seek us out as a resource, we’ve been forming relationships with new donors. We’ve also seen many longtime supporters get more deeply involved in our activities, on board committees, at site visits and as new fund holders. It’s a continual pleasure to work with all of our partners on well-designed responses to community needs.

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