Letter to the Community
Ken Thompson; Board Chair, 2008-2009
Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.; President & CEO
2008-2009 Board Chair Ken Thompson, center, with Chair-Elect Cathy Bessant and President & CEO Michael Marsicano of Foundation For The Carolinas.
The year 2008 included a number of historic events for Foundation For The Carolinas, our region and our nation.
In January 2008, the Foundation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and noted record levels of giving and grantmaking. In that same month, the Center for Civic Leadership was formed and the Foundation received extremely generous gifts from Bank of America, which gave a building to house the Foundation in 2011, and from Sonia and Isaac Luski, who will provide art from their collection to fill public gallery space in the new building. The Center for Civic Leadership launched a campaign early in the year to fund future initiatives and began a community scan to evaluate pressing needs.
Progress continued throughout the year on major Foundation initiatives, including the Carolina Thread Trail, which completed master plans for three counties and made grants for master planning in six additional communities.
Crossroads Charlotte, an initiative that uses the arts to engage residents in framing a positive future for the Charlotte region, was spotlighted in a National Arts Policy Roundtable in September at Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve in Utah.
Generous donors continued to open funds and award grants throughout the year. However, by the end of 2008 our nation was entrenched in a dire economic crisis, and needs facing our area human service providers had increased substantially. Emergency food pantries were seeing a 30 percent increase in demand. Families requesting assistance with rent and utilities payments had increased by 40 percent, many of them seeking this kind of help for the first time.
Despite the worst economic climate in recent times, donors who hold funds at the Foundation continued to recommend grants at the same level as the previous year. In fact, grants of $103 million made throughout 2008 exceeded donations of $78 million to funds during the year.
In late 2008, Foundation For The Carolinas launched the Critical Need Response Fund with an extraordinary gift of $1 million from Charlotte philanthropists Sandra and Leon Levine. A task force was formed to award grants in Mecklenburg County during the harshest winter months to meet area needs for food, clothing, warmth and shelter.
Four additional regional community foundation affiliates of Foundation For The Carolinas created Critical Need grantmaking programs to serve their counties - the Cabarrus County, Cherokee County, Lancaster County and Lexington Area Community Foundations.
Local public television station WTVI sought and received special permission to produce and broadcast a fundraiser highlighting the needs of our area nonprofits and grants made through the Critical Need Response Fund. By April of 2009, nearly $3 million was raised and distributed to meet the needs of our communities during this crisis.
In light of this overwhelming response from individual, corporate and foundation donors in our community, there could be no more fitting theme for 2008-2009 report to the community than “A Region Responds.” On behalf of Foundation For The Carolinas, we hope you will enjoy reading the stories in our inaugural online report. We know you will be inspired by the generous and thoughtful ways in which our region responds.