Letter to the Community

Catherine P. Bessant and Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.


Cathy Bessant; Board Chair, 2010-2013
Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.; President & CEO

We are pleased to bring you this 2012-13 Report to the Community. As we reflect on this window in time, we see great courage, generosity and resilience throughout our region. Giving records have been shattered, new initiatives are changing lives, and exciting plans are taking shape that will transform communities.

Resilience of a Region

We truly feel we have turned the corner from the challenging times we’ve all experienced over the past five years, and our financial results reflect this outlook. Thanks to the outstanding commitment of our clients and donors, 2012 was unprecedented on several important fronts. Grants to nonprofits from Foundation-held funds rose to a record $158 million in 2012. Contributions from clients to their charitable funds reached more than $248 million in 2012, the second highest total in our history.

Adding these figures to our outstanding investment returns, all of which solidly beat their benchmarks, for the first time in our 55-year history we have topped the $1 billion mark in assets owned and represented. This milestone is a true rarity among community foundations and a testament to both the generosity and resilience of our region.

Centers for Giving

Of course, none of this would be possible without our fundholders. Our talented internal team, which grew in 2012 with the addition of several key roles, continually strives to help our clients meet their unique philanthropic goals. Last year we launched two new subsidiary foundations, Community Investments Foundation and Community Real Property Holdings, Inc. Both entities help donors leverage illiquid assets, such as closely held business interests and real estate, to create charitable good. The response to these new offerings has been tremendous, and we expect continued growth on this front.

The Center for Corporate Philanthropy also continues to help philanthropy make great business sense for companies in our region and beyond. Last fall, our team rallied to meet the extraordinary needs of Employee Disaster and Hardship Relief clients whose coworkers in the Northeast were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, awarding millions of dollars in emergency assistance to thousands of employees in need. And our Center for Nonprofit Sustainability remains committed to helping our region’s nonprofit organizations thrive, expanding over the past year with the addition of new nonprofit funds from across our 13-county region.

Civic Leadership

A number of Robinson Center for Civic Leadership initiatives also made important strides in the past year. The Carolina Thread Trail celebrated the completion of the 100th mile of trails and greenways that link communities throughout the region. More than 2,000 elementary school children received educational laptops through Project L.I.F.T.’s continued efforts to improve educational outcomes on Charlotte’s West Side. Our returning veterans will have greater assistance transitioning to civilian life thanks to the ongoing work of Charlotte Bridge Home. And earlier this year, we announced a collaboration with the City of Charlotte and other partners to establish a $20 million Social Impact Housing Endowment, which will provide stable housing and crucial services to our growing number of homeless families and veterans. We thank our Robinson Center for Civic Leadership members for your generous support of these efforts.

Looking Ahead

Convening communities is at the heart of what we do, and our region is poised to have a new and needed venue for civic gatherings. Plans are taking shape to transform the Carolina Theatre into a vibrant space for community debates, lectures and performances. Located adjacent to our headquarters, the theatre is part of a larger vision to create a civic campus along North Tryon Street that will include our nonprofit neighbors as well as some exciting new amenities for our community. Stay tuned for more plans on this front, and in the meantime we invite you to join the thousands who have visited our headquarters facility to enjoy the stunning art, as well as the meeting and event spaces located within.

We invite you to explore this online report for more extensive stories, grant and fund information from the past year. It is our honor to lead your community foundation, and we thank you for your partnership, generosity and commitment to our region.