Founded in 1953 as Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund, the history of Communities Foundation of Texas tells an important story about where we have been and where we are headed. With the support and involvement of several well-known Dallas business leaders during the mid-20th century, it was created in July 1953 as the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund as a safety net for social-service agencies in Dallas. Those leaders included Dallas attorney Paul Carrington, along with Fred M. Lange, J.L. Latimer, Henry S. Miller, Sr., and Harold F. Volk. Other early leaders were Charles S. Sharp, Russell H. Perry, William H. Seay, Maxwell A. Clampitt, and George P. Cullum, Jr.
View a timeline of our first 60 years.
The first gift to the Trust Fund was $10,000 worth of stock from Algur H. Meadows, the successful oil and gas businessman, arts patron and philanthropist whose family fortune had been the basis for creating the private Meadows Foundation earlier in 1948.
Not long after the Meadows gift, Pearl C. Anderson made the first six-figure gift to the Trust Fund in 1955 when she donated her future interest in a parcel of land in downtown Dallas that was valued at $325,000. Mrs. Anderson, the widow of a prominent African-American physician and civic leader, strengthened the organization's early commitment to support programs and institutions that help individuals throughout the community.
In 1974, W.W. "Will" Caruth Jr. established the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation as a supporting organization at Communities Foundation of Texas, adding a new chapter to the Caruth family's historic legacy of pioneer farming and land acquisition. Through the years, Will Caruth shared much of his fortune with others through CFT and helped CFT improve the Dallas community where his family had lived since 1848. He had preferences for bold giving in the areas of education, public safety, medical and scientific research and "bootstrapping" social assistance initiatives. We have been diligent to honor his passions.
His wife, the late Mabel Peters Caruth, continued his tradition with an inspiring $34 million bequest to build the new CFT headquarters. In 2003, Communities Foundation of Texas moved from East Dallas into the Mabel Peters Caruth Center at 5500 Caruth Haven thanks to the generous bequest of Mrs. Caruth.
Through the years we have taken on some of this region's more challenging needs by understanding our donors' charitable intent and connecting them with organizations making a positive difference. The name change from Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund to Communities Foundation of Texas in 1981 reflected the broader scope of the foundation's current impact. We are now one of the largest community foundations in the nation in terms of assets, gifts received and grants awarded.
For more than a half century, we have helped donors find ways to give effectively while enjoying significant tax advantages. The approach continues to work today with grants that have provided lifesaving medical equipment, protective gear for Dallas Police officers, significant financial support for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, mental health services in West Dallas and master planning funds for a new Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The foundation's evolution over the last half century has been dramatic, but our commitment to know our donors and make good grants remains the same.