It was a blow to La Jolla Country Day student Ainhoa Leal when they realized they wouldn’t be able to afford attendance at any of the four-year colleges and universities they were accepted to, including their top choice, DePaul University in Chicago.

Still, The San Diego Foundation Community Scholars Initiative scholarship recipient Leal persevered, thanks to the support of their family, school staff and mentorship through the Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI) and MANA de San Diego (MANA)’s Hermanitas program.

Thankfully, Leal’s BLCI counselor brought up Grossmont College, a community college in San Diego’s East County with a well-regarded transfer track and support services for Latinx and LGBTQ+ students. While it wasn’t the four-year university they had initially envisioned, Leal acknowledged that it was still reaching the goal others had hoped for them — they just took another route.

This story, along with the countless others like it, demonstrates the importance of U.S. community foundations, which are uniquely situated to improve their regions by enacting innovative solutions and creating powerful partnerships.

Celebrating Community Foundation Week

From November 12 – 18, we celebrate Community Foundation Week, a time when we can share and reflect on stories of local impact and human connection over the past year. Though you may not yet know your local community foundation, you’ve likely felt its impact.

The San Diego Foundation and more than 750 other community foundations across the country help to bring donors and residents together. In a way that few other institutions can, community foundations work to support the efforts that will help the places we call home continue to flourish and grow.

Many community foundations throughout the country were first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of Response Funds. These funds were established to tackle the immediate needs of local organizations and communities that the crisis had impacted.

In our fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, we granted a record-breaking $104 million, the majority of which went to local nonprofit organizations. With needs ranging from food insecurity to childcare, from accessing the outdoors to supporting trauma-informed counseling, our donors, fund holders and partners heeded the call to service.

5 Facts about Community Foundations

The community foundation field is one of the fastest-growing philanthropic sectors in the U.S. Here are five facts to help you understand the impact of community foundations:

  1. The first community foundation was created in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, and operates now as the Cleveland Foundation.
  2. Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. Currently, more than 750 community foundations operate in urban and rural areas in every state in the United States.
  3. Every continent but Antartica has a community foundation. It’s estimated that there are at least 1,200 community foundations outside of the United States and Canada.
  4. According to the National Philanthropic Trust’s 2020 Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) Report, grantmaking from DAFs to qualified charities totaled more than $25 billion in 2019, a 93 percent increase since 2015.
  5. Nearly every type of gift, from cash to real estate, stock, and other complex assets, can be donated to a community foundation.

National Philanthropy Day 2021

During Community Foundation Week, we celebrated the charitable work of you and your fellow San Diegans on National Philanthropy Day.

We were proud to partner with other local community foundations – Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe Foundation – to sponsor the AFP San Diego Chapter National Philanthropy Day event. And we were honored to receive the Outstanding Grantmaking Organization 2021 award.

Learn more about the impact your local community foundation made in San Diego and view our 2021 Annual Report.