There’s not an organization quite like the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region. In 1968, a local group of community-minded individuals raised $40,000 to start the Albany-based foundation with the goal of connecting people and special programs to the causes they cared about most. That same year, the Community Foundation awarded its first grants totaling $600; more than half a century later, it has awarded more than $90 million in grants and scholarships. Recently, saratoga living sat down with John Eberle, President and CEO, to discuss the impact and future of the philanthropic organization.
How broad is the foundation’s scope, and are there any organizations in Saratoga benefitting from it?
This year, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $4.8 million in grants to organizations throughout the Greater Capital Region. Some of our supporters established forever funds to support grant-making in our community. We were proud to support several Saratoga programs this year, including the Children’s Museum at Saratoga for their Making Connections program, which opens the museum once a month exclusively for children with autism and their families. And it’s free of charge! Other Saratoga beneficiaries include the Wesley Health Care Center for the purchase of their medication dispensing equipment, and AIM Services’ Enhanced Respite After School Program for children with developmental or physical disabilities. We focus on building funds for our organization that address the community’s most pressing needs, while honoring the wishes and legacies of the donors who helped create them.
What kind of scholarship opportunities does the foundation offer?
By the end of 2019, the Community Foundation will have awarded more than $583,000 to 170 students. Overall, the foundation manages more than 75 scholarship funds, which are awarded based on criteria, including community involvement, volunteer service and intended field of study. Our largest scholarship fund actually just celebrated ten years with the foundation: The Phyllis E. Dake Make Your Own Scholarship, which is available for the families of Stewart’s employees. Since 2009, the Community Foundation has helped Stewart’s distribute 1,427 scholarship awards totaling more than $3.4 million!
The Community Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. What was the response from the community?
We feel more connected to our community than ever. We continue to build a community that benefits everyone by empowering nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, business leaders and public officials. In fact, the Community Foundation is the only entity in the Capital Region focused on growing an endowment to forever fund and support our region’s nonprofits. This is why we launched our Campaign for Impact last year to capitalize on current and emerging opportunities and deploy resources to transform our community. By doing this, we will always be a responsive resource to meet the Capital Region’s ever-changing needs.