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Michelle Foster: Greater Kanawha Foundation grateful to donors

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) continues to serve as a navigator for generous individuals, families and businesses interested in making West Virginia an even better place to live, work, play and raise a family. In 2018, the Foundation received $4.9 million in contributions, compared to $2.8 million in 2017, and distributed close to $9.7 million in grants and scholarships. Included in these distributions was $1 million from anonymous donors who did not wish to endow their funds but wanted all of their donation to be disbursed within 12 months to worthwhile dental and emergency aid projects. We are grateful to these anonymous donors for their generosity and care.

At the end of 2018, the Foundation had over $219 million in assets under management. As of March 31, 2019, the value of our assets had rebounded to $240 million. To those of you who made financial contributions last year, thank YOU for caring enough to invest in YOUR community through YOUR community foundation. To those organizations that received a 2018 grant, thank you for your hard work and diligence; it is our pleasure to partner with you all for positive community impact.

The Foundation’s assets are dispersed among 522 funds. Our primary fund types are donor-advised, donor-designated, discretionary, and scholarship. Donor-advised and donor-designated funds make up two-thirds of our assets; we processed 721 grants in these two fund categories. Through our discretionary grant program, we awarded 12 Arts & Culture grants to serve 43,000 individuals; 11 Basic Needs grants to serve more than 18,000 individuals; and eight Special Initiative grants to serve more than 12,000 individuals. We also made a $1 million commitment to the new Kanawha County Public Library’s Charleston campus renovation. Furthermore, we awarded 40 proactive, collaborative grants to serve 44,403 individuals.

I am also delighted to report that in 2018, we invested directly into the lives of 345 West Virginians through our statewide Scholarship Program. Additionally, the Bridge of Hope fund, a scholarship fund established by Lynne Fruth of Fruth Pharmacy for people in recovery from substance use disorders, awarded five scholarships. The fund is on track to quadruple the number of scholarships awarded in 2019.

Still, the Foundation is more than just a source of funding. We are also a source of capacity-building support aimed at strengthening our nonprofit and community partners. Towards this end, we presented a sustainability institute and offered individual evaluation and performance measurement coaching to current grantees, impacting over 150 individuals and their organizations. We also launched Table Talk, a teacher mentoring initiative that reached 12 beginning educators in Kanawha County.

TGKVF is also an information resource, keeping our partners abreast of developments in the philanthropic sector. In 2018, we presented two seminars for our wealth management and accounting partners — one on the benefits of Donor Advised Funds vs. Private Foundations and another on Nonprofit Accounting Updates. Through these seminars, we reached 60 individuals.

In 2018, one of our revered donors, Mrs. Betty Schoenbaum, transitioned to glory at the age of 100. Mrs. Schoenbaum was a force of nature, a woman whose love for humankind has undoubtedly been a blessing to the Greater Kanawha Valley. She saw great value in working with our foundation to facilitate her sustained giving to a plethora of community organizations. Her relationship with TGKVF started in 1972.

With 57 years of history in the community, Mrs. Schoenbaum knew that the Foundation is adept at recognizing high-performing nonprofits that need funding and efficiently granting them the necessary resources to be effective. She worked with us because she knew that we would provide her with customized support, like dividing her large donor-advised fund into multiple designated funds so that the organizations she cared about deeply would be taken care of after her passing.

Mrs. Schoenbaum knew that our professional staff have specific expertise in grantmaking due diligence and in identifying local community needs that other giving platforms, like commercial donor-advised funds, do not offer. Not only do we understand the needs of our community, we also have the agility to respond to them quickly. She knew that the level of quality support we provide relieves the burden on donors who without assistance do not have to sift through an array of organizations of varying capacities and track records.

Mrs. Schoenbaum taught me that “the joy of giving is the joy of living.” To me, giving includes contributing your time, talent and treasures towards the betterment of humankind. If you believe that better is possible in our community and in our state, I encourage you to join us in becoming more through your giving.

For us to believe that better is possible, it means that we have to be hopeful. Yes, West Virginia has some challenges, but all is not lost. We are better than our current circumstances. Let me remind you that hope is at the core of leadership. Hope provides complete confidence, optimism and enthusiasm for the work we’re doing. Hope propels us to push a little harder, to keep fighting and to persevere through difficulties. Hope delivers the belief that we need to keep working and gives focus to the outcomes we desire.

So let us continue to foster hope as we take action making the Greater Kanawha Valley and the state of West Virginia better. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Michelle Foster is president and CEO of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.

Funerals for Monday, July 22, 2019

Carrico, Imogene - 11 a.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Dudley, Lillie - 1 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Farley, Willard - 1 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Fisher, James - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Keeney, Helen - Noon, Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Kennedy, Anna - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Rice-Carney, Lisa - 8 p.m., Teays Valley Church of God, Scott Depot.

Shinn, Larry - 5 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Totten Sr., James - Noon, West Virginia Home Mission Church, Nitro.