TRUCKEE, Calif. — The holiday spirit is all about giving back.
Rather than giving back to the community just during the holiday season, the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation is committed to doing so year-round.
“Like a squirrel, we are still about gathering of those nuts for our community,” said Stacy Caldwell, the foundation’s CEO. “Setting aside resources, stewarding them appropriately and distributing them wisely for the long view and needs.”
The foundation’s donors comprise an integral part of that equation.
“Our donors and fundholders have provided the lifeblood of our work,” said Linda Brown, former board chair for TTCF.
And it was one donor who prompted the foundation’s creation — William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard.
Fifteen years ago, he gave the community a $1 million gift, followed by a $1 million challenge grant to create a community foundation to serve the Truckee, Donner Summit and greater North Lake Tahoe region.
In a little more than a year, TTCF matched the challenged, had $3 million in assets and began a vigorous grant program to support community needs and opportunities.
At the same time, it helped individuals and families establish funds with the foundation, allowing them to expand their philanthropic reach into the community.
“Looking back, so much has happened because we exist — as a resource for both donors with philanthropic interests and for our local nonprofits in support of their work,” said Brown.
15 YEARS of Impact
During its 15 years, TTCF has awarded 3,324 grants, totaling $20.1 million:
$4.2 million in the field of arts, culture and civic benefit.
$6.4 million to education and youth development.
$3.9 million in the field of environment, recreation and animal welfare.
$5.5 million in support of heath and human services.
“But it’s been about more than money,” past TTCF board chairs said in a joint statement. “Lives have been changed. Organizations have been strengthened. New needs and opportunities have been identified and supported.”
Among others, three of the foundation’s areas of impact include:
Partnering with the Excellence in Education Foundation and the Truckee Tahoe Unified School District to foster Tahoe Truckee Reads, which aims to ensure more children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
Housing the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, a regional group of advocates and service providers to create a safe and healthy environment for children, youth and families.
Conceiving and providing support to the Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund, a philanthropic collective that awards annual grants and whose membership tops 1,200 women.
“We are all better off because of the sustained commitment the foundation has made to matching donor’s philanthropic interests with community needs and opportunities,” Brown said. “We see visible benefits all around us because we exist.”
When asked this week of which accomplishment they are most proud, a few former TTCF board chairs and current chair Steve Gross pointed to the soon-to-be complete Kings Beach Community House.
Over the past 20 months, TTCF has raised $2.2 million for the project, Caldwell said. When completed — expected in the first quarter of 2014 — the community house will hold satellite offices for Tahoe SAFE Alliance, North Tahoe Family Resource Center and Project MANA in an effect to create service integration and increased efficiency.
“It is so special because it’s been built by the community, for the community and will serve the community in perpetuity,” Gross said.
‘ONLY THE BEGINNING’
Despite 15 years of success, TTCF’s community impact is not well-known, said Caldwell, who began her role as the foundation’s leader in March 2013.
“Our work tends to be behind the scenes, and often times our donors want (it) to be that way, too,” she said. “We also haven’t done a good job of telling our complete story. We are working hard to change that.”
In addition, the foundation is hoping to better tap visitors and second-home owners as potential donors.
“If successful, we believe we can increase our grant-making to hopefully give larger grants to our nonprofits over multiple years,” Caldwell said.
Despite these challenges, the foundation has $20 million in assets under its management after 15 years, setting it up well for future growth, said Roger Kahn, former TTCF board chair.
“I am convinced that these past 15 years are only the beginning for TTCF,” Kahn said. “I believe it will continue to make a huge impact on our community forever.”
“We see visible benefits all around us because we exist.”
Former TTCF Board Chair