Community foundations are one of the fastest growing forms of philanthropy in the United States. The infrastructure for engaging community-based grantmakers globally is rapidly expanding. The first community foundation was formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914. Today, there are community foundations blanketing in the United States, in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Community foundations are emerging in Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Russia, and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Anguilla, India, Japan, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Michigan Community Foundations' Youth Project
In the late 1980s, the Council of Michigan Foundations and its community foundation members developed a proposal to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Philanthropy and Volunteerism programming area for the Michigan Community Foundations' Youth Project (MCFYP).
MCFYP offered each community foundation (or geographic affiliate fund) a challenge grant of up to $1 million. The challenge grant required $2 of local funds to be raised and placed in a permanent unrestricted or field of interest fund in a community foundation, to leverage $1 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Kellogg monies were permanently endowed in a youth field of interest fund. Community foundations had to establish Youth Advisory Committees (YACs) comprised of at least 50% youth members (most are now 100% youth) to advise on grants from the youth fund forever.
The goals of the challenge grant were to:
- Expand the areas served by community foundations in Michigan so that every citizen would have access to such a philanthropic vehicle
- Strengthen the capacity of existing community foundations
- Involve youth in grantmaking with permanently endowed funds through the creation of Youth Advisory Committees
To support these goals, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made a long-term investment from 1988 to present supporting a number of key strategies designed to promote community foundation growth:
- Leveraging resources through a challenge grant
- Providing technical assistance
- Creating efficiencies of scale through regional collaboration
- Developing technological capacity
- Developing and implementing operational standards
- Creating common marketing strategies and tools
- Serving as an intermediary for region-wide grants
- Promoting affiliation and mergers
This website offers practical "how to" materials developed by the Council of Michigan Foundations and information about what we have learned in the process of implementing the above strategies.
Michigan community foundations have experienced extensive growth since 1988.