In 2014, the Cleveland Foundation became the first community foundation in the world to turn 100 years old. After Frederick H. Goff founded Cleveland’s community foundation in 1914, the idea quickly took off across the United States and today there are an estimated 1,800 community foundations worldwide. This year, six more community foundations are celebrating their centennials with exciting investments in their communities.
California Community Foundation is celebrating their one hundredth year with their Centennial Legacy Campaign, an endowment fund that provides citizens of Los Angeles a way to give back to their community in perpetuity.
Greater Milwaukee Foundation is providing monthly events -- Free concerts, admission to museums, free public transit, and gifts to improve public spaces-- as a way to celebrate and thank their community for 100 years of partnership.
Greater St. Louis Foundation celebrated its anniversary by launching its second annual Give STL Day – a 24-hour fundraising effort for area nonprofits. The event was a resounding success, bringing in 20,246 gifts totaling $2,069,448.69.
The Boston Foundation has published extensive accounts and stories from their history, both online and in a new book, The Boston Foundation in the City of Ideas 1915-2015, to showcase their 100 years of grantmaking on behalf of their community. These publications and accompanying events celebrate the impact the Boston Foundation has had on the people and community of Boston.
The Chicago Community Trust is both celebrating the past, with descriptions of Chicago’s last century, as well as looking toward the future by analyzing Chicago’s philanthropic potential and sharing it with the community. To inspire the next century of Chicago philanthropy, the Chicago Community Trust is actively engaging the community to share their stories and opinions on what philanthropy means to them and encouraging community engagement programs for everyone from youth to community leaders.
The Minneapolis Foundation celebrated their birthday by giving away free helmets and bike share passes in the Twin Cities. They are both exploring their history and looking to the future, inviting Minneapolis residents to share their wishes for the community’s future through social media. Their centennial year will culminate on September 18 with a Futurist Conference, which will spark the conversations of the next one hundred years.
Looking through the curated histories of each of these foundations – and, because the two are so intertwined, exploring the histories of their communities – is eye-opening. In 1915, the United States had not yet entered World War I. It had not yet experienced the Roaring ‘20s, the Depression of the ‘30s, World War II, or the transformative ‘50s. These community foundations have guided their cities through these events and more – the Civil Rights Movement, the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial, the AIDS epidemic, the rise of environmentalism, and social equality movements that continue to this day. These moments of history have all been affected by the community foundations that in this year turn one hundred.
Los Angeles, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis have indisputably been shaped by the efforts of their community foundations. More than that, they have been shaped by the efforts of their citizens. Because, at the end of the day, community foundations are simply the philanthropic hearts and hands of the people of the communities they serve.
The Council on Foundations is proud to be a longtime partner of these foundations. We congratulate these six communities on a century of philanthropic efforts and look forward to the positive difference they will make in the next one hundred years.