Nearly 40 Years of Impact
In 1972, the Palm Beach County Community Foundation is incorporated thanks to the vision of Palm Beach County residents Winsome and Michael McIntosh. Their intent was to find a means of building a permanent charitable endowment to meet the changing needs of the community. These forward-thinkers were following the lead of other communities in the country, led by Cleveland in 1914, who created community foundations unique to their area.
In 1979, the Foundation received its first bequest when West Palm Beach resident Ilse Klassen left $300,000 to the Community Foundation. Called the Ilse Klassen Fund, this fund was created to support community needs. Ilse’s fund has now granted over $300,000, as much as the original gift, to 73 local nonprofit organizations. Her legacy will be honored in perpetuity. She is one of the hundreds of philanthropists who have partnered with the Community Foundation.
Throughout the years, community leaders from a wide range of professions have volunteered their time and expertise to lead the Foundation. Dedicated staff members have helped the Foundation's impact in the community grow dramatically. Shannon Sadler Hull was hired as Executive Director in 1983 and retired as President and CEO in 2009. Leslie Lilly began her tenure with the Community Foundation in 2007 as Vice President for Programs and was named the second President and CEO in the Foundation’s history in February 2009.
The Community Foundation’s nearly 40 years of impact is the result of generous donors, hard working volunteers, visionary grantees and community partners, and a dedicated staff.
Here are just a few milestones from that rich history.
The Community Foundation has granted over $86 million in grants and scholarships over the past nearly 40 years.
The first President and CEO in the Foundation’s history, Shannon Sadler Hull, retires after 26 years of service.
Community Foundation Vice President of Programs Leslie Lilly is named President and CEO.
The Safety Net Fund is established to meet emerging critical needs. An unprecedented collaboration with area funders and matching donation campaign yields $1.3 million for food, shelter, health care and childcare assistance, greatly needed as a result of the economic crisis.
The Community Foundation is named the first green certified nonprofit in the nation.
The Knight Foundation awards the Community Foundation a $1 million dollar grant to develop an online civic engagement experiment for Palm Beach County – one of the first in the country.
Our Water… Our Future… Our Choice, a study of our region’s water outlook sponsored by the Environmental Endowment Fund, is released.
Affordable Housing Initiative receives $5 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
In 2006-07 the Foundation distributes $8 million in grants and over half a million in scholarships to 99 students.
Commissioned a public opinion survey, 10 years after the first, including the Foundation’s expanded service area. The results are documented in Problems in Paradise: the People of Palm Beach and Martin Counties Speak Up.
The Community Foundation is awarded a $20 million grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to establish the John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fund, an endowment fund to address the needs in the areas of arts and culture, education, the environment, and community development.
Launched a signature project to help save the Everglades. Produced and aired The Indian River Lagoon: Gateway to Saving the Everglades, as a way of informing the public and elected policy makers about the need for the restoration.
Collaborated with Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and government sources in co-funding a countywide homeless census.
Environmental Fund established with $1 million endowment.
The Foundation publishes a special newspaper insert, Face to Face, to highlight the rich diversity of our area's residents.
Mary and Robert Pew make the largest gift in the Foundation's history, $25 million, to establish the Pew Public Education Fund, a supporting organization of the Community Foundation. It’s mission is to improve public education for economically disadvantaged children in Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
Foundation assets reach $50 million thanks in part to a $5 million gift from the Hans and Mary Stratmann Foundation.
Commissioned first public opinion survey in Palm Beach County, resulting in the report "Palm Beach Community Check-Up: Residents Respond to the Issues Facing Their County.”
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation establishes a permanently endowed donor-advised fund with a grant of $2.5 million to support community needs in Palm Beach County.
Twentieth anniversary of the Foundation. Grants distributed total $644,000. One such grant was made to the Morikami Museum to support Japanese-produced films presented at new museum opening. Total assets reach $25 million
Regional philanthropic expansion: The Palm Beach County Community Foundation incorporates Martin County in its service area and changes its name to reflect its geographic commitment.
The Community Foundation received a generous financial gift of $15 million from the estate of Marie Graber Martens, a resident of Boca Raton.
The Foundation launches the Glades Community Development Corporation, an initiative to empower residents to enhance the quality of life in Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee. The initiative is supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
First environmentally focused fund established through a bequest by Ocean Ridge resident Thomas Ladue McGinty. Mr. McGinty was an author, naturalist and malacologist.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation issued a second challenge grant of $1.5 million. The result of the two MacArthur Foundation challenge grants was an overall increase of nearly $5 million to the Community Foundation.
The John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation issued a $250,000 challenge grant to the Community Foundation which was successfully met.
Foundation President William E. Benjamin II issues a $100,000 challenge grant to the Board of Drectors. This challenge was the first of its kind in the Foundation’s history and led to the 100% financial participation and community involvement exhibited by all Foundation Board members today.
First memorial scholarship fund established in memory of Don Dahlberg by his parents, Larue and Donald Dahlberg. Don was a junior at Jupiter High School. In 2010, the Community Foundation administers 100 named scholarship funds.
Distributed over $50,000 in grants: one such grant underwrote an architect’s development blueprints for a new children’s facility known as “The Haven” in Boca Raton, now a nationally accredited group home for boys ages 9-17.
The Foundation receives its first major bequest when West Palm Beach resident Ilse Klassen leaves $300,000 to the Community Foundation.
Incorporated as the Palm Beach County Community Foundation to build permanent charitable assets for the benefit of Palm Beach County thanks to the vision of county residents Michael and Winsome McIntosh, founding donors.
Danielle Blangy CameronV.P.for Personal and Family Philanthropy
"My decision to make a donation to the Community Foundation came down to trust. I knew that my dollars would be used to serve the community under the able stewardship of foundation staff."
CPA, Boca Raton