Latest initiative by foundation to benefit counties

Posted: Nov. 17, 2012 5:49 pm Updated: Dec. 9, 2012 12:15 am

THE COMMUNITY Foundation of the Quincy Area celebrated a significant milestone last week by announcing a creative initiative designed to further support the charitable programs in the 13 counties it serves.

The foundation, created 15 years ago this month, announced it will offer up to $15,000 in matching funds to each county that starts its own County Endowment Fund. The annual earnings on the principal of those funds will then be used to provide charitable support within that county.

The initiative stands as the latest example of how the foundation continually evolves to meet its mission of "connecting people who care with causes that matter in the Tri-States."

The foundation, one of more than 650 nationwide, has served 13 counties in West-Central Illinois, Northeast Missouri and Southeast Iowa since it was formed in November 1997 by a group of local civic leaders intent on helping nonprofit agencies and charitable organizations.

The foundation so far has released more than 1,200 grants totaling $1.75 million to enhance arts and culture, for community betterment, to improve education, and to aid health and human service needs. More than 130 funds with combined assets of $14 million have been established.

The County Endowment Fund grew from a pilot project launched two years ago in Pike County, Ill. Community leaders there were searching for ways to assist benefactors in making charitable bequests aimed at helping the county's residents.

Encouraged by representatives of the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area, members of the Pike County Fund Council already have collected $20,000 from donors in Pike County, and next month will determine how to award some of the accumulated funds to charitable causes.

The community leaders in Pike County should be applauded for taking the initiative to better their communities for generations to come.

Jill Arnold Blickhan, the foundation's executive director, said the organization already has been approached by leaders in other local counties interested in replicating that program. She believes the matching funds and expertise the foundation can provide will serve as useful incentives to help those counties establish and enhance their own programs to benefit charitable causes.

Community foundations across the country have successfully pooled donors' assets to help build healthier communities since the first one was created in Cleveland in 1914. Foundations work with local leaders who understand the needs of the community to manage and distribute funds to organizations through programs like the County Endowment Fund.

The Community Foundation of the Quincy Area has been a success story during the short time it has existed, and this latest initiative will further afford those of us living today in the Tri-States the ability to create a better tomorrow.