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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, the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund was created in July 1953 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.

Interactive Timeline
For more than 60 years, Communities Foundation of Texas has made a lasting impact on our community.
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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 a preference for giving to transformative projects (or programs) in the areas of education, public safety, and medical and scientific research.

His wife, the late Mabel Peters Caruth, continued his tradition in 2003 with an inspiring bequest for the purpose of purchasing the original Caruth Homeplace and surrounding property and funding the construction of the new CFT headquarters.

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 managed, 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 past half-century has been dramatic, but our commitment to know our donors and make good grants remains the same.



The Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund (DCCTF) was established by a group of prominent business and civic leaders. Initially, its purpose was to focus on the endowment and capital needs of the Community Chest agencies. The first year's expenses were underwritten by Algur H. Meadows, a prominent oilman and founder of The Meadows Foundation. Fred M. Lange served as the first executive director.


Mrs. Pearl C. Anderson, widow of Dr. J.W. Anderson, helped launch the foundation with a substantial gift of a residual interest in a trust consisting of downtown property, then valued at $325,000. By the first Board of Trustees meeting, the Foundation's assets totaled $1,148,000.


Pearl’s Wisdom — Pearl C. Anderson Day Nursery

It was not enough for working mothers in Garland to find jobs in 1958; they also had the challenge of arranging oversight for their kids in a city without day care facilities. Longtime child welfare advocate Pearl C. Anderson established a fund at the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund (which later became CFT) to respond to the problem. The Pearl C. Anderson Day Nursery, part of the Dallas Day Nursery Association, was an immediate success, thanks to Anderson’s vision and dedication.


Well-known Dallas attorneys Earl A. Forsythe and Joseph W. Riley guided the Foundation's first years. In 1958, the late Vester T. Hughes, Jr. — previously with the Jackson Walker law firm, then a partner of K&L Gates — began advising on tax matters. About the same time, the late William E. Collins of the Thompson and Knight law firm became general counsel.



DCCTF was incorporated and broadened its scope in giving to other philanthropies and charities of interest to donors including medical care and research, children, the elderly and the disadvantaged, arts and civic improvement, social service, the sciences and religion.


Pumping Up Cardiac Care — St. Paul Hospital Cardiac Research Grant

The Hearts of Texas
St. Paul Hospital (now UT Southwestern University Hospital–St. Paul) needed to acquire a rotating disc oxygenator, a heart-lung machine and diagnostic instruments to help doctors determine a patient’s need for open-heart surgery. A $20,000 grant from us in 1962 enabled the four-year-old cardiac research program to develop new surgical techniques that have kept the hospital on the leading edge of cardiac care.


A new tax law provided incentives for donors to use community foundations as a preference over private foundations as philanthropic vehicles.


Investing in Entrepreneurs — Caruth Institute of Small Business Management

A generous $200,000 gift from W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation Fund initiated the establishment of the Caruth Institute of Small Business Management at Southern Methodist University in 1969. Caruth’s belief in the “venturesome spirit of competitive free enterprise” inspired the program to promote small-business ownership and disseminate the latest business management knowledge to small-business managers. Though times have changed, the Institute’s mission remains the same — to offer education and training for today’s entrepreneurs.



DCCTF built The Fred M. Lange Center on Live Oak Street, allowing it to grow and serve the community and also provide meeting space for nonprofits. The Perot and Morton Funds were established.


The first Charitable Remainder Trusts were developed.


Giving to Learn — Carr P. & Ruth Collins Learning Center

The Carr P. and Ruth Collins Learning Center on the Dallas Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University) campus was named for the couple as a reminder of the generosity made possible by the fund they established at the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund. Staunch believers in education, the Collinses donated both money and time in their efforts to reach out to DBC students and support the school’s quality educational curriculum.


W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation, the largest support foundation now administered here, was created. The Foundation established a legacy of giving that would continue after his death.


Intensive Love for Children —Blanche Swanzy Lange Special Care Newborn Nursery

Blanche Swanzy Lange and Dr. Fred Lange, early founders of CFT, traveled the world in the interest of improving the medical conditions of children. To help newborns needing intensive care and observation in Dallas, the couple made a gift from the Lange Fund of the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund to Baylor University Medical Center. The Blanche Swanzy Lange Special Care Newborn Nursery opened in 1975. Medical units in Laos, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic also are named in honor of Mrs. Lange.


Christmas Coach — Children’s Medical Center Van

Children’s Medical Center was the recipient of a new passenger van made possible by W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation Fund of the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund. The Christmas gift was made in the 21st year Caruth had donated items to children’s agencies in lieu of gifts to customers of Caruth Building Service and related companies.



DCCTF outgrew its original Live Oak Headquarters and tripled its size with a building addition. Nonprofits continued to use the improved facilities for their meetings.


The name was changed to Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) to reflect donors’ interest in charitable endeavors throughout the state of Texas. An unrestricted grants program was initiated, and the first Area Funds — Millards Crossing in Nacogdoches and the Palacios Area Fund in Palacios, Texas — were created.


CFT computerizes books and records to better serve donors.


Little House in the Piney Woods — Millard’s Crossing

Making Philanthropic History
​Born and raised in Nacogdoches, Lera Millard Thomas married a lawyer-turned-congressman and became a congresswoman herself in 1965. When her term ended, she returned to her birthplace and began to restore old homes and antiquities in the town. She ensured the renovation and preservation of her estate through a fund she established at CFT. Today the 37-acre mini-city filled with 19th-century homes, a chapel, a log cabin and a school is known as Millard’s Crossing.


CFT reaches $100 million in assets.


Music to Our Ears — Perot Fund Symphony Grant

Thanks to H. Ross Perot’s $18 million donation through a fund established at CFT, the community foundation became a player in the construction of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, named in honor Perot’s friend and business associate. The internationally acclaimed home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra was designed by I.M. Pei and modeled after European concert halls known for their acoustic superiority. The Perot grant was an integral event for the arts community in Dallas and also broke philanthropic records. In 1985, the grant was the largest donation from a community foundation to an arts organization.



W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation Fund oversees the first $5 million grant to UT Southwestern Medical Center to foster research with young scientists and doctors.


Pet Project — SPCA of Texas

The SPCA of Texas has a tough job — caring for animals without the support of government funding. Generous contributions from CFT donors such as Phoebe and Russell Perry help make the SPCA’s job easier. In 1998, the SPCA began building the Russell H. Perry campus on a 30-acre tract of land in west McKinney. An animal adoption center, medical center, education center and rehabilitation area are just a few of the campus’s features.


In the Line of Duty —Dallas Police Memorial

Dallas police officers who have lost their lives serving the city’s citizens are honored at the Dallas Police Memorial. The canopied plaza, which is adjacent to City Hall, bears the names and badge numbers of the fallen heroes. In 1999, the Dallas Police Foundation received a $550,000 grant from CFT to recognize the selfless dedication of these defenders. The hard surfaces and sharp angles — which are the aesthetic hallmarks of the memorial — represent the urban streets where police officers work.



Mabel Peters Caruth bequeaths $34 million to build a new headquarters for CFT.


Establishment of Entrepreneurs For North Texas, a program that facilitates community involvement and philanthropy for small and mid-size companies that want to make a difference in their communities in a way that's good for their business.


Ground is broken for the Mabel Peters Caruth headquarters.


Wings of an Angel — Texas Discovery Gardens Butterfly Garden

Her mother’s passion for butterflies — as well as education and conservation — inspired Mary Anne Sammons Cree to recommend a $2.5 million grant from the Rosine Foundation Fund for Texas Discovery Gardens. The Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium focuses on the importance of butterflies in pollination and the interrelation of butterflies, bugs and botany in Texas. The Butterfly House is the world’s first combination butterfly and insect immersion exhibit.


Entertaining New Ideas — Eisemann Center for Performing Arts

Charles and Ann Eisemann are longtime supporters of the cultural arts in Richardson, especially the symphony orchestra. The Eisemann Foundation Fund of CFT granted $2 million to the city of Richardson to support a new performing arts venue. Another Eisemann fund was established to encourage additional contributions to the center. The Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts and Corporate Presentations continues to bring great performing artists and entertainers to North Texas, connecting and engaging people through inspiring arts experiences.


Building Goodwill — Goodwill Industries

Goodwill’s capital campaign sought to raise money for a new facility that would triple to 3,000 the number of people served at its west Dallas facility. Through the J.A. Glass fund, the Louis A. and Julia T. Beecherl Jr. fund and other funds, CFT awarded more than $250,000 to Goodwill Industries for its needs.


Overflowing Gratitude — Calatrava Fountain

In 2001, a $1.5 million gift from the Rosine Foundation Fund of CFT expedited the design and construction of a sculpture-fountain outside Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Museum. The famed Spanish architect, engineer and sculptor Santiago Calatrava created “Wave,” which incorporates a large pool of water with rocking steel arms running the length of the pool. Water is sequentially transferred from one end of the pool to the other, forming a continuous wave.


Cumulative grants from CFT exceed $500 million.


The Ultimate Gift — Transplant Immunology Research Grant

In 2002, CFT honored the memory of Will Caruth with a $5 million gift from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation Fund to establish a Basic Science Research Program in the Immunology of Solid Organ Transplantation at Baylor Research Institute. The gift was generously matched by the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, creating a $10 million endowment for the development of a world-class transplantation immunology research center. The research program seeks to discover innovative therapies and increase understanding of how bodies treat foreign substances, including transplanted organs.


Meeting Needs — Mabel Peters Caruth Center

Building for the Future
Mabel Peters Caruth wrote a new chapter in the family’s legacy of giving when she announced her bequest of $34 million to CFT, among the largest single charitable donations ever recorded in Dallas. She requested that her gift be used to establish and maintain a new centrally located headquarters to serve both the Foundation and the community. The 60,000-foot Mabel Peters Caruth Center will meet the needs of CFT, local community groups and new generations of philanthropists in the century ahead.


Educate Texas is created. Originally named the Texas High School Project, Educate Texas is an innovative alliance of public and private groups that share a common goal: improving the public education system so that every Texas student is prepared for success in school, in the workforce and in life.


Backing the Blue — $15MM to Dallas Police Department (DPD) 

A $15 million grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas to the Dallas Police Department (DPD) was the largest ever made from the foundation created by Will Caruth and entrusted to CFT, and also the largest grant on record made through a public foundation to a police department anywhere in the country. One aspect of the grant funded the groundbreaking Caruth Police Institute, which prepares leaders in the DPD to become better-educated, better-trained officers who effectively protect and serve the citizens of Dallas. With additional key support from the University of Texas at Dallas, the institute will provide high-quality leadership training for all levels of the DPD.


Brent Christopher becomes President and CEO.


DonorBridge is launched and is the most comprehensive and free public resource for connecting North Texas nonprofits and supporters. Run by DonorBridge, CFT also held the first annual North Texas Giving Day which brought in $4 million for local nonprofits in its inaugural year.



A $3.5 million grant to the American Heart Association makes it possible for North Texas hospitals to reduce the time it takes a heart attack patient to receive lifesaving treatment. The collaboration will transform patient care for future heart attack victims and position Dallas County as a national leader in heart attack treatment and survival.


The Foundation celebrates 60 years of giving. CFT has distributed more than $1.2 billion since 1953.


The fifth annual North Texas Giving Day raises $24k per minute, setting a national record for community-wide giving events by raising more than $25.2 million for 1,351 local nonprofits in 17 hours.


To increase the local pool of talented teachers and school leaders, CFT makes $2 million in grants to nonprofits training those serving in local at-risk middle schools, like Treaching Trust, Teach for America and more.


Building nonprofit muscle is the goal of the Data-Driven Decision-Making (D3) Institute which graduated its first cohort of 16 nonprofits that serve low-income working families to build their financial stability.


Donating for demolition? That's exactly what Jane and Bill Browning's daughters did from their donor advised fund at CFT to benefit the Dallas Zoo by demolishing the outdated large mammal building to make room for the new Picnic Ridge.


W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation announces a grant of up to $7.5 million to the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern.


For the first time in history, CFT makes more than $100 million in grants in one year.


Construction begins on $8.2 million Cottages at Hickory Crossing, a model project for permanent supportive housing to house the chronically homeless thanks to lead funding from Caruth at CFT.


One in three North Texans can't weather a financial storm that lasts 90 days. Kera's One Crisis Away series follows four families on the financial edge thanks to funding from CFT.


Critical knowledge is often lost as vulnerable patients move between medical and social service orgranzations. The Caruth Foundation at CFT announces a grant of up to $12 million to enable Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) to build the revolutionary Dallas Information Exchange Portal and solve the persistent problem of fragmented patient information that inhibits delivery of care.


Educate Texas celebrates its 10th anniversary.


The Elder Financial Safety Center, funded by a $3.9 million grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at CFT, launches as the most comprehensive partnership of The Senior Source, DA's office and Probate Courts.


CFT launches and guides first cohort of nonprofits through the Working Families Success Network of North Texas to further support improving financial stability for low-income working families.


TI Foundation announces that they will donate $2.2 million to Educate Texas and Lancaster ISD for its STEM district.


North Texas Giving Day surpasses its own national record, raising $33 million in 18 hours for more than 2,020 North Texas nonprofits.


$1 million raised for relief and recovery efforts from the Garland/Rowlett tornadoes and the Dallas Police shooting.


Nine nonprofit sites go "live" as official members of the Working Family Success Network of North Texas, thanks to year-long training at CFT.


Developer Craig Hall opens two restaurant spaces at Hall Arts that he donates to Communities Foundation of Texas.


Dave Scullin joins as new president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas.


$4.8 million raised for Hurricane Harvey and other relief efforts through CFT.


Five regions of Texas chosen to increase the number of students earning STEM credentials thanks to Educate Texas.


Dallas selected as one of 11 national cities for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


$39 million raised for 2,700 nonprofits on North Texas Giving Day.


CFT publishes Dallas County Economic Opportunity Assessment to highlight critical community data and demonstrate how place and race matters.


North Texas Giving Day raised $48 million from 81,000 donors.


CFT distributes $1.1 million to 254 scholarship recipients.


5,000+ clients served through CFT's Working Families Success Network since 2014. 


CFT opens Collin County Office.


Richarson ISD "STEM for All" anounced thanks to $4.6 million grant from Texas Instruments Foundation to Educate Texas.


35 Racial Equity grants announced.


9,000+ hours volunteered by Communities Foundation of Texas for Business member companies.


Educate Texas' RGV Focus program announces that Rio Grande Valley students are beating 9 of 12 statewide education benchmarks.


CFT's Caruth Fund announces $6.3 million to largest set of grantees in a single year. Funds are meant t oaddress the community's challenges holistically and work across sectors of public safety, education and health to solve them.


North Texas Giving Day raised $50 million.



CFT celebrates passing the $2 billion in cumulative grantmaking milestone since 1953.


CFT's Educate Texas culminates work on 20 x 2020 goals for student success.