It’s rather startling to consider the positive impact made by the Community Foundation of North Central Washington on this region in supporting nonprofits, fostering a spirit of philanthropy and creating opportunities for those who have limited resources.
The foundation held a donor recognition event at Pybus Public Market recently and the room was packed with people who have made strengthening our communities a personal priority. The attendees were a veritable Who’s Who of community builders.
CFNCW Executive Director Beth Stipe told the crowd the foundation gave out more than $1.1 million in scholarships to 216 students in 2022. I was surprised to learn that CFNCW gives out more scholarships than any other similar organization in the state, including the exponentially larger Seattle Foundation. In addition to the dollars made available to students, the scholarship program also gives more than 300 volunteers an opportunity to help out by evaluating scholarship applications and thereby fosters a great shared sense of community.
Maintaining this pay-it-forward spirit will be increasingly essential to the health of our valley as our valley is transformed by the rapid economic growth we are experiencing.
One of CFNCW’s recent innovations has been developing its crowdfunding expertise with annual programs like Give NCW and Give Methow. Those programs create an opportunity for the foundation to inspire community members to support regional nonprofits and more effectively leverage CFNCW grant dollars. All told, the foundation gave out more than $7 million in grants in 2022.
It is undeniable that serious opportunity gaps exist for individuals and families not only in North Central Washington but nationwide. Perhaps the greatest value of the Community Foundation is that it is adept at creating opportunities for people of wealth and modest means to give back and at the same time creating opportunities for those without means to overcome obstacles and enhance their ability to contribute to our communities.
One recipient of this effort to close opportunity gaps is Western Washington University student and Cascade High School graduate Chloe Palmer Godsey, who gave a recorded video testimonial. “The Community Foundation scholarships have allowed me to have opportunities that I would not have without the help and support I have received from them,” she said.
Perhaps the best known role of CFNCW is in support of the region’s nonprofits, and Upper Valley MEND Executive Director Kaylin Bettinger spoke at the event about her organization’s efforts to fill needs for those who are struggling, through its food bank, housing programs, retail store and free medical clinic.
She announced that Upper Valley MEND will be launching a campaign later this year to fund the purchase of 31 existing affordable housing units that former Community Foundation board member Ken Marson and his family are making available for purchase.
Leavenworth has a serious housing affordability crisis and the Marson family made the choice to support those of modest means in the community by keeping rents affordable. That’s the kind of sacrifice for the greater good that epitomizes community builders in our midst.
Bettinger told me that the Marson family is selling the 31 units for $5.1 million, an average price of $165,000 which is far below the market value of the property.
“The renters in these buildings are similar to the makeup of our homeownership program,” Bettinger said. “We’re really excited about being able to preserve economic and racial diversity in the community,” she added.
Upper Valley MEND will launch a capital campaign this year to fund the purchase of those properties. What an incredible opportunity for maintaining affordable housing in that community.
The Community Foundation also honored founding board member Bob White, an estate planning attorney, for his contributions to the organization. The foundation works closely with financial and estate planners in our region to help families create legacy gifts that benefit the greater good.
Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-665-1162.
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