Letter to the Community


Cathy Bessant; Board Chair, 2010-2011
Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.; President & CEO

This letter comes to you during an important time in the history of Foundation For The Carolinas, a time of achievement and change. We have been particularly active in the civic leadership arena, and our fundholders have been extremely active as well. Among other changes, we have a new home that we believe will enable us to better fulfill our mission in service to our donors and to our region.

Financially, the state of your community foundation is strong. Contributions to funds totaled more than $209 million, our second-highest ever, and grants to the community set an all-time Foundation record at more than $140 million, fourth-highest in the nation among community foundations. We ended the year at $910 million in total assets owned and managed, our highest total ever. This number has continued to grow throughout 2011, although it fluctuates with market ups and downs.

We are also very proud of a Center for Civic Leadership initiative we announced in 2010, Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation). Project L.I.F.T. is a $55 million consortium of foundations and corporations seeking to improve educational outcomes in public schools on Charlotte’s west side. In the summer of 2011, representatives of Project L.I.F.T., including Michael, were invited to the White House to meet with President Obama and corporate CEOs to discuss graduation rates and other education issues. Project L.I.F.T. was highlighted as an example of the kind of partnership the administration wants to foster. In 2011, Project L.I.F.T. made its first grants to the community and hired an executive director.

At last, we made the move this summer to our new headquarters at 220 North Tryon Street. Although we moved just four blocks, this event has clearly been a giant step in the history of the Foundation. The new building, a gift from Bank of America, provides greatly expanded space. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of donors too numerous to mention here, the facility has been renovated to create a true hub for philanthropy and home for civic leadership activity for our region. Among its features:

  • We have greatly expanded meeting and convening space through our Levine Conference Center. Nonprofits are invited to use the meeting space free of charge during business hours, and we anticipate that rental income from corporate, weekend and evening activities will help to offset added operating costs of running our larger facility.
  • Along with the advent of the new building, we are pleased to share with you that we have named the Center for Civic Leadership, our flagship program, for Sally and Russell Robinson, who are well-respected throughout our community for their leadership and philanthropy.
  • The Sonia and Isaac Luski Gallery showcases our growing art collection in a space that is open to the public, fulfilling the donors’ wishes for art that is free and accessible for our community.

As of this writing, renovation is nearing completion. We are putting the finishing touches on our new facility and we look forward to welcoming you and the general public once we have formally opened the building in December.

Among these many updates and changes, you may have noticed a new look for Foundation publications and materials. Our new brand features a modern yet timeless design enhanced with colorful images of works from the Foundation’s art collection, including many pieces of art glass from the Sonia and Isaac Luski collection. We think our new look conveys the Foundation’s strength and stability as a cornerstone of the community, as well as the vibrancy and creativity that your community foundation will continue to foster as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

Finally, we are delighted to share with you that our Governing Board has prevailed upon Cathy to extend her term as Chair for another year. Her guidance will continue to be critical as we complete our transition to our new home in every sense.

Thanks for your continued support during this exciting time in the Foundation’s history. We look forward to all we’ll do together, in celebration of the art of philanthropy.