Community Foundations Centennial

The Community Foundations of Canada’s Vital Signs is an annual community check-up, conducted by community foundations across Canada – and now around the world – that uses data to measure the vitality of our communities. The effort started in the late 1990s at the Toronto Community Foundation (TCF). The Council’s Christopher Goett, caught up with Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President & CEO, Toronto Community Foundation, to discuss TCF’s Vital Signs initiative as part of The Council’s #CF100 series.

The Lincoln Community Foundation, along with leaders of Lincoln’s largest public and private charitable organizations, city and county officials, and the business community worked together for two years to develop Lincoln Vital Signs. The report was just released in January. The study, which was assembled by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, is based on existing research and data related to the following areas: Community Profile, Economy and Workforce, Basic Needs, Education, Health, Safety and Community Involvement

It’s amazing what generous people will do when they understand a community issue and see a way to help solve it. But many times, the roadblock to getting started is that people don’t really understand the problem or even realize there is one.

When leaders in Erie County, Pa., analyzed poverty data, test scores, and pre-school participation rates in their community, they noticed a troubling trend. Erie had a significant shortage of preschool education programs – particularly in low-income neighborhoods. And that shortage was contributing to lower-than-average test scores.

Last fall I joined community foundation leaders from across Canada as part of the Monitor Institute’s What’s Next for Community Philanthropy. At one point during this event, we brainstormed activities that are core to their community foundations. As we clustered our sticky notes, I noted how many times the words Vital Signs appeared and thought about the changes that have emerged in our work over the past decade.

The Council on Foundations is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Goff’s simple yet enduring idea by shining a spotlight on the myriad ways community foundations are making a difference – and discussing how these vital institutions will serve their communities during the next 100 years.

Based on interviews with more than 150 community foundations, the Monitor Institute team developed this list of generic roles community philanthropy organizations play in their communities through their What's Next for Community Philanthropy initiative.

We are pleased to partner with the Cleveland Foundation to promote a groundbreaking international project that will inform community philanthropy around the globe. The Community Foundation Atlas will be unveiled at our Centennial Year, Fall Conference for Community Foundations next October 20-22 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This year marks the Community Foundation Centennial, and we look forward to celebrating alongside the Cleveland Foundation, the nation's first community foundation. Programming will celebrate the rich legacy and bright future of place-based philanthropy across the country and around the world.