Donors, nonprofit leaders and trustees helped Communities Foundation of Texas celebrate $1 billion in total grantmaking during a May presentation of discretionary grants. Awards went to 27 area nonprofit community organizations operating in the areas of education, health care, social services and the arts.
The $1 billion milestone reflects CFT’s total grantmaking since the foundation was established in 1953 as the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund. "Exceeding $1 billion in total grants is a tremendous achievement for Communities Foundation of Texas," said Jody Grant, chairman of the board of trustees. "But the real reason for celebration is the number of lives that have been touched by those grants over the past five decades and the tremendous generosity of the many donors who have made this level of response to community needs possible. We are inspired both by those serving the community directly and by those serving the community with gifts of their personal resources. Their commitment makes a difference for so many."
At a community foundation, donor-advised funds and discretionary funds can combine resources to meet community needs. The McManemin family, which has one of the more than 500 donor-advised funds at CFT, partnered with CFT during its spring discretionary grant cycle by recommending a grant from their donor-advised fund to Mi Escuelita Preschool. CFT brought this grantmaking opportunity to the McManemins based on the strength of the grant request and its match to the McManemins’ personal charitable interests. Mi Escuelita will use the joint support from CFT discretionary funds and the McManemin Family Fund to support the organization’s programs, which help preschool-age children and their parents improve their English language and literacy skills.
"At Mi Escuelita, our families are the ‘working poor,’ and making education a priority requires difficult personal and financial choices," said Gillian Breidenbach, board chair of Mi Escuelita Preschool. "During these unstable economic times, our families persist in making their children’s education a priority. Through the generosity of Communities Foundation of Texas and the McManemin family, we are able to continue our ‘Together We Learn’ program, which not only improves literacy for children and their parents, but enables us to provide a stable, nurturing environment for these children and their families."
"We are pleased to be a small part of CFT’s $1 billion milestone," said Casey McManemin. "CFT has tremendous knowledge of community needs and organizations. The foundation has helped us learn more about the causes important to our values and family, as well as learn
Among those on hand to celebrate CFT’s $1 billion milestone were, from left, Dr. Frank Lazarus, president, the University of Dallas; Jan Pruitt, president and CEO, North Texas Food Bank; and Dr. J. Cook, CFT’s vice president of grants.
about other nonprofits we might not otherwise have been aware of that are making a significant impact in North Texas."
Like many families who have donor-advised funds at CFT, the McManemins involve their children in their family’s charitable giving. "We encourage our children to participate in our philanthropy, and CFT helps to make it easy and rewarding for us," said Megan McManemin.
"The $1 billion milestone in grantmaking reflects not only on our donors’ generosity but also on the strength, breadth and depth of the community’s nonprofit organizations," said Brent E. Christopher, president and CEO of CFT. "The organizations receiving discretionary grants in the spring cycle are the most recent examples of local nonprofit organizations that do a great job making lives better across North Texas. In more ways than most of us ever realize, their work is often the unseen glue that holds our entire community together—improving education, safety, health and happiness for everyone."
Annually, CFT awards thousands of grants, large and small, touching practically every part of the community. Last year, the foundation paid over $80 million in grants. Some grants benefit individuals or families, such as academic scholarships or emergency assistance grants to help those who lose a home to a fire or natural disaster. Other grants benefit all types of nonprofit organizations, such as social-service agencies, hospitals and medical research centers, colleges and universities, and arts organizations. Since 2000, CFT has awarded more than half of the $1 billion in cumulative grants, with nearly $200 million in grants recommended from donor-advised funds alone during the last four years.
During challenging economic times, charitable giving is especially important. Many nonprofits are facing reductions in contributions from people who are no longer able to give, while need for the nonprofits’ services often is increasing. Foundation grants obviously help those nonprofits, but the grants also contribute to the local economy in other ways. A national economic study completed last fall determined that for every $1 of all foundation grantmaking during 2007, the community received an average of $8.58 in direct economic benefits. With nearly $43 billion in foundation grantmaking across the country during 2007, communities reaped $368 billion in economic benefits due to this multiplier effect.