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For more than 60 years, Communities Foundation of Texas has made a lasting impact on our community.

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July 1953

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.


Advancing the Frontiers of Medicine — $5MM UT Southwestern Medical Center

W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation

gives the first $5 million grant to UT Southwestern Medical Center to foster research with young medical scientists through the “Caruth Scholars” program. The unique program continues to attract the most promising young medical faculty, accelerating their research careers and develop future leaders not only for the medical school but for all of medical science. In one of the most generous medical start-up packages anywhere, each Caruth Scholar receives research funds totaling $600,000 over the first four years of their faculty careers. Scholars are guaranteed funding and at the same time are being mentored by some of the greatest senior investigators in the world — UT Southwestern’s faculty — including four Nobel laureates, 11 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and many other leading researchers.


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.


CFT moves into the Mabel Peters Caruth Headquarters at 5500 Caruth Haven Lane at North Central Expressway


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.

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