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Understanding the Community Foundation Model

So, what is a community foundation? Having recently joined The San Diego Foundation, this is a question I’ve been asked often over the past several months.

A Century of Support for Communities

The community foundation model was born 101 years ago in Cleveland, when a local civic leader devised the idea of a community trust; an effort to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland’s philanthropists, those living and passed, into a permanent endowment for the benefit of the city.

The interest generated would represent a perpetual source of financial resources that would be distributed to fund nonprofits and programs supporting the quality of life of Clevelanders.

Some of the earliest investments of the Cleveland Foundation included research that led to reforms in public education and criminal justice. One effort even helped create a system of public parks and open spaces that increased access to nature for all city residents, not unlike The San Diego Foundation’s own Opening the Outdoors program.

According to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, “community foundations help build and strengthen community and bring together people and organizations that want to make a difference in the world. They are tax-exempt public charities that guide philanthropy and are dedicated to improving the quality of life in the areas they serve.”

Community Foundation

Building Enduring Assets & Community Knowledge

Today, The San Diego Foundation is part of a global movement of community philanthropy.

In the U.S., we join over 750 community foundations serving cities, counties and regions across the nation. Celebrating our 40th year, The San Diego Foundation is among the nation’s top 25 community foundations in asset size and giving.

At The San Diego Foundation we work to maximize the impact of philanthropic investment around community priorities that emerged from Our Greater San Diego Vision and form the basis for our WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live and Learn) framework.

Building on The Foundation’s deep community knowledge, we partner with the region’s philanthropists, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, business, academia and other community leaders to develop and invest in creative solutions in the issues that matter most to San Diegans.

At its core, our community foundation focuses on supporting the region in perpetuity, promoting opportunities for San Diegans to give together, convening civic-minded individuals for education and collective impact and building up the capacity for local nonprofits.

The Foundation is San Diego’s premiere resource for information about charitable giving and community needs.

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