Community Foundation launches new effort to help local non-profits

September is the “Month of Philanthropy” and the San Juan Island Community Foundation has embarked on a number of events that are educating, celebrating and rewarding islanders through public programs and a special grant-award event.

As part of the Month of Philanthropy, the Community Foundation has initiated a new “no-load” fund drive to benefit our local non-profits. “One hundred percent of all donations made to the Healthy Community Fund during this drive will directly support the work of our local non-profits,” said Pamela Gross, board member and Basic Needs liaison for the foundation.

A community wide mailing this month will explain the work of the foundation and give everyone the opportunity to take advantage of this giving opportunity.

“We also are expanding our successful Youth Philanthropy program, which was a big success with high school students last spring. We are bringing the program into the elementary and middle schools this month,” said Wendy Wood, foundation board member and education liaison.

“The program teaches the meaning and role of philanthropy in our society and allows students to research and direct actual grants to our island’s non-profits. Our high school program, adopted by Friday Harbor social studies teacher Jim McNairy, will direct a $1,000 Foundation grant which they will present at The Breakfast of Champions at the end of the month.”

Many other activities are planned, including a series of speaking engagements to inform local service organizations about the role of the Community Foundation and the partnership possibilities with the wide range of San Juan Island charitable projects.

“Philanthropy is no longer an option in our society," foundation chairman Charles Anderson said. "We can’t sit back and hope that the government will fund all of our basic needs and infrastructure, much less those aspects which so critically add to our quality of life. We must individually and collectively take responsibility for our community, those around us and our own way of life.”

The foundation’s annual Breakfast of Champions grant award event on Sept. 26 winds up the Month of Philanthropy activities. More than 50 local non-profit and public organizations will be awarded grants which, this year, will have totaled nearly $750,000.

The keynote speaker will be Chef Tom French of the Experience Food Project, who is leading the new Farm to School lunch program in Friday Harbor. Helen Machin-Smith of Island Stage Left, and Debbie Fincher, who led the public school anti-bullying program, will also address the group from the perspective of an island non-profit.

The Community Foundation serves as a non-profit philanthropic umbrella organization helping donors, non-profits and public organizations to achieve their goals through direct grants, organizational assistance and philanthropic resource management.

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