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Community Foundation Awards $24 Million in Grants During Last Half of 2021

The Community Foundation awarded $24.2 million in grants from charitable funds under its administration to 966 nonprofit organizations during the last six months of 2021. Since its founding in 1986, the Community Foundation has awarded $412.9 million in grants. Its 1,780 charitable funds under management total $564.7 million in assets. 

Curt Detjen

“The donors we serve are amazingly generous! This level of grants is remarkable even in an extraordinary giving time — compare those six months to all of 2020, when the Foundation helped its donors to award a record $38.5 million in grants to 1,754 nonprofit organizations. And, the prior two years had been record-high years with grants approaching $31 million,” said Curt Detjen, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The last three years have been challenging for our world and local region, and we are so grateful that it brought out the best in generosity. Our donors have been tremendous. Together, our community donors, impactful nonprofits and our committed staff are truly making a difference in the lives of all.”  

The Community Foundation connects people with the needs of our local community to ensure that, together, we make a big difference. And we ensure that gifts last forever so that our community will always flourish. The Community Foundation does that by helping people, businesses and organizations through their charitable funds make a difference by supporting nonprofits working on the causes they care about most, during and after their lifetimes.  

During the final six months of 2021, donors’ contributions totaled $37.5 million into charitable funds under administration by the Community Foundation, which is higher than the $36.8 million raised during all its prior 12-month fiscal year. 

“We live in a generous community. To receive more contributions in six months than the previous 12 months is awe inspiring,” Detjen said. “I am amazed and humbled by donors’ generosity. 

Community Foundation grants can support any area of interest, including human services, community improvement, education, health care, environment and arts and culture.

Donor Fund Grant Stories 

The Jim and Mary Grist Family Fund awarded grants in the latter half of 2021 to the City of Appleton to place a memorial bench along a trail adjacent to the future Ellen Kort Peace Park along the Fox River. The Grists’ daughter, Julie Grist, said she and her four siblings sought to acknowledge her parents’ love of the river. 

Our family is delighted that the Appleton community has been turning toward the river, embracing it with walking paths and benches to enjoy views and the river’s wildlife,” Grist said. “I bet our parents are very happy to know support from their fund is going toward a bench and the building of pathways along the Fox River. We are eager to sit on that bench when it’s done and marvel at the Fox River just as mom and dad once did.” 

Through the Nell M. Menn Family Donor Advised Fund, Nancy Menn has made monthly grants since 2014 to the Dyslexia Reading Connection, Inc. in Appleton. The nonprofit organization she founded works with children and adults to improve their reading and spelling skills.  

Menn developed a program to help students with dyslexia read better while volunteering at the Appleton Christian School. She watched a few VHS tapes explaining the Barton Reading & Spelling System and dyslexia and began tutoring students with dyslexia at the school. After the school closed, Menn founded the Dyslexia Reading Connection. 

Nancy Menn

“It’s the passion of my life. We decided to begin donating monthly to the center to keep it financially secure so it can continue to help students,” said Menn, who remains an active tutor with the organization. “We donate where we think it’s the most useful and the Dyslexia Reading Connection is one of those organizations that is doing a lot of good.” 

Since 2014, the fund has provided $169,509 of financial support to the organization. 

“The donations from the Nell M. Menn Family Donor Advised Fund are used in several ways, but most of it goes to our scholarship fund,” said Kimberly Stevens, executive director of the Dyslexia Reading Connection. “We have some students who really need the help but cannot afford it so the scholarships can offset those costs.” 

The Community Foundation was created in 1986 with $5,000 from Walter L. Rugland which he 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. Learn more here.

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