“It’s an exciting time for us,” is how Executive Director Jim Daly described the news that as of July 15, the Grays Harbor Community Foundation has exceeded a threshold of $50 million in assets, solidifying its ranking as the sixth largest community foundation of 29 in the state.
The milestone was reached with the help of $1.5 million gift from the Estate of Ann R. Weatherwax. Weatherwax was 73 when she died in 2010. She was the daughter of Ben K. and Marian Weatherwax, a prominent Aberdeen family.
This year marks the foundation’s 20th anniversary. It serves the community through grants and scholarships programs, assisting hundreds of local nonprofit agencies and more than 1,000 students attain their educational dreams.
“We are pleased to be able to continue our work in Grays Harbor in perpetuity,” said Daly. “The exceptional growth of the Community Foundation would not be possible without strong investment returns and the continued support of our donors.
A year and a half ago, when the assets totalled close to $37 million, Daly challenged the board set a goal of $50 million by the 20th anniversary. Asking them to raise funds “was not my intention,” he said Friday. “We don’t do fundraising.” He encouraged them to mention the work of the foundation more often and to encourage people to think of the foundation when making philanthropic decisions.
That effort and a 19.6 percent return on their investments last year, Daly predicted they would reach the milestone by the end of the year. It was reached almost six months earlier.
In 2014, 332 students will receive $553,000 in scholarships for students of any age pursuing college or vocational/technical education after high school. They also expect to award at least $1.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in Grays Harbor through various grants.
The foundation is also at work on phases four and five of a five-part program to help alleviate inter-generational poverty on the Harbor with help from a small grant from the Gates Foundation. Implementation will begin later this year, Daly said.
Among groups supported by the foundation are: Hope From Horses, a riding program for physically and mentally challenged youth; operational support for the Children’s Advocacy Center, the Domestic Violence Center and Beyond Survival; playground equipment replacement at four parks; Meals-on-Wheels, for a new delivery vehicle; two school Science Technology Engineering and Math programs, two Robotics Club and a “Technology in the Classroom” initiative.
Every year, the foundation sends every sixth grade student on Grays Harbor County to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” in Seattle through the Gladys Phillips Cultural Tours fund, which originated with the E.K. and Lillian Bishop Foundation.
The foundation’s administrative cost to total assets figure is 0.88 percent and is one of the lowest among 1,700 foundations nationwide, Daly said. The foundation is run with three full time and one half time employees, he said.
The foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission “to improve the quality of life in the communities throughout Grays Harbor County.”
Tax-deductible donations can be made to: Grays Harbor Community Foundation, P.O. Box 615, Hoquiam, WA 98550. Check out the the foundation website: www.gh-cf.org, call (360) 532-1600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.