Why Community Foundations Make a Difference

LACF Community House

What is a community foundation?

Recently there have been accusations of misconduct at Silicon Valley Community Foundation. In light of this recent news, you may be asking what a community foundation is and why are they important to our community?

Community foundations enable residents, private foundations, and businesses to strengthen the community through local philanthropy and civic engagement. They are the “people’s foundation”, offering community members the ability to set up funds, start programs, give grants, collaborate, and volunteer to address local needs and improve quality of life.

However, to be effective, community foundations must do more than offer a variety of services.  They must represent and reinforce the positive values of the communities they serve.

The Board and staff of Los Altos Community Foundation (LACF) are committed to our community and its values. The Foundation assists all community members in their work to improve the community. This dedication is the same as that seen at other local community-based foundations, such as those in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

Los Altos values compassion, generosity, innovation, and collaboration.  We also value trusting relationships and mutual respect, which facilitate effective action, community strength, and joy.

Many who move to our community tell me that they like the “small-town” feel and that residents are very engaged. This is not by accident or luck. Los Altos Community Foundation is one of the reasons for our unique community.

LACF’s services foster compassion and generosity.

Over the last quarter-century, LACF and its donors have generously granted over $10 million to local nonprofits, school programs, and new initiatives. These range from parades and concerts to supporting organizations helping struggling populations.

Social innovation and collaboration lead to creative approaches for addressing new issues and opportunities.  LACF has incubated and funded dozens of new start-up nonprofits and initiatives, allowing people and groups to address local needs and/or simply make our community a better place to live for all. For example, Mentor Tutor Connection, Living Classroom, and WomenSV started as LACF programs.

Most importantly, a community such as ours is based on trusting relationships and mutual respect. LACF’s services enable open collaboration for better ideas, residents watching out for the youth and seniors in their neighborhood, and the willingness of community members to “roll up their sleeves” and help one another.

In light of everything going on at the regional, national, and global levels, it is important for everyone to follow the compass of our local values. Our lives will be more rewarding. And our youth better grounded as they prepare to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Los Altos Community Foundation is committed to our community values and is here to help you live them.

This article by Joe Eyre, LACF Executive Director, originally appeared as an “Other Voices” opinion piece in the Los Altos Town Crier on May 9, 2018.


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