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Community Foundation Celebrates Another Momentous Year in Giving!

The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region awarded $38.5 million in grants to 1,754 nonprofit organizations, a 25% increase over its previous largest granting total in 2020, and taking the total grants awarded in its 35-year history to $388.7 million.

Curt Detjen, President and CEO

For fiscal year 2021, which ended June 30, the grants total included a record $1.38 million in scholarships from 216 scholarship funds awarded to 468 students from 60 high schools.

“Grants made on behalf of our generous donors through the Community Foundation exceeded $30 million for the third consecutive year. Every dollar makes a difference to the nonprofits who receive them and the people they serve,” says Curt Detjen, president and CEO. “The importance and impact of philanthropy has been more significant than ever during this pandemic, and we know this generosity will continue through the endowments and all charitable funds in the Community Foundation.”

The Community Foundation helps people, businesses and organizations make a difference by supporting nonprofits working on the causes they care about most, during and after their lifetimes. They create charitable funds with the Community Foundation that award grants to nonprofit organizations across the Fox Valley region and beyond.

The grants cover the full range of charitable causes in the community, including human services, community improvement, education, health care, environment, and arts and culture.

Check out our digital annual report here:

“Whether we realize it or not, every one of us provides an example for others. We are so thankful for the standard our donors have set and for the role they play in modeling generosity and growing philanthropy in our region,” says Peter Mariahazy, Board Chair. “While their impact today, during the pandemic, is especially appreciated and noteworthy, their legacy will live on for all time. This strengthens our community for all.”

The Himebaugh Legacy Circle has grown to 279 members. The program recognizes people who have made after-lifetime plans for their favorite charitable causes through a bequest or similar deferred gift to the Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation’s 1,754 charitable funds under management total $545.9 million in assets and received $36.8 million in contributions. The median contribution was $103, and the median grant was $1,000.

“We will continue to foster strong generosity and are eager to help people and organizations make the difference they want to make for the benefit of others,” Detjen says. “Together, we will flourish.” 

Examples of $38.5 million in Grants

  • Kaukauna Area School District’s retired teachers helped students with online access during the pandemic. The Kaukauna Educators’ Legacy Fund within the Community Foundation provided more than $9,000 to place 75 devices in students’ homes.
  • Many businesses and organizations hosted pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics, a collaborative effort to provide easy, trusted access to vaccinations. Through culturally relevant messaging and outreach events, local leaders removed barriers to vaccines for Black, Hispanic, and Hmong community members by hosting clinics on the weekends, providing translators, and not requiring photo IDs. The pop-up clinics were supported by community partnerships and grants from the $1.8 million donated by 434 donors to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund established by the Community Foundation and United Way Fox Cities.
  • 2020 saw a heightened interest in enjoying the outdoors. Generous funding supported trail expansions, park improvements, and recreational facility upgrades including Heckrodt Wetland Reserve’s “World Above Your Feet” play area; the Nelson Family Heritage Crossing bridge over the Fox River; and Province Terrace Trail extension connecting the 50-mile Paper Trail around the Fox Cities.
  • THRIVE Calumet addresses unmet mental health needs through assessments and community awareness, and it launched a pilot program to provide on-site mental health services in the school districts of Brillion, Chilton, Hilbert, New Holstein and Stockbridge, in partnership with Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley. Community support included a $231,544 grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership within the Community Foundation supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation, and other community partners. The implementation of the program in Chilton was also supported by a $7,500 grant from the Chilton Area Community Foundation and a $2,500 grant from the Ruth Bolz Memorial Fund, a fund within the Chilton foundation.
  • Make Music Day on June 21 was hosted outside the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in partnership with The Building for Kids Children’s Museum and sponsored in part by a $2,500 grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation. Participants were led by members of IndUS of Fox Valley in creating bell anklets and learning their role in traditional Indian dance.

The Community Foundation was created in 1986 with $5,000 Walter L. Rugland received as part of the first Community Service Award given by Aid Association for Lutherans (now Thrivent Financial), where he had been president, CEO and chairman. The Community Foundation is the second-largest certified community foundation in Wisconsin, and among the top 10 percent nationwide.

More details on the financial performance, as well as lists of grant recipients, charitable funds and investment performance, are available on our Report to the Community page.

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