Tapping Local Wealth: Community Foundations and Transition

Ivy Breshear wrote a piece yesterday for the Rural Blog featuring some of the great work being done by community foundations across Appalachia.  Specifically, community foundations like the Community Foundation of Hazard and Perry County are trying to tap the local resources and wealth held within Appalachian communities into funding longer-term pools of investment for the future of our communities.  This kind of long-term thinking is exactly what we need to support a sustained transition effort, and we're glad to see coverage of these ideas in both the Rural Blog and the Herald Leader!

Breshear writes:

Local non-profit community foundations, like the Community Foundation of Hazard and Perry County in southeastern Kentucky encourage local philanthropy and community development by tapping into local or expatriate wealth. Now, that group, with three other area non-profits, is using a $1 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help 11 other counties establish community foundations as part of the newly created Appalachian Rural Development Philanthropy Initiative.

The 11 counties are Bell, Clay, Elliott, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin and Whitley. Tom Eblen of the Lexington Herald-Leader writes in his column the initiative's goal in those counties is to "tap into local resources and focus them in meaningful ways," like providing funds for education, the arts, health care, the environment and housing. There are about 700 community foundations across the U.S., mostly in large cities, though some in rural Iowa and Montana have been very successful. Eblen writes the initiative faces a challenge in creating foundations in the 11 selected counties, which are all very poor: Where will the money com from?

He already has the answer: "The non-profit Kentucky Philanthropy Initiative published a study last year that estimated Kentuckians' wealth at $311 billion. The study estimated the amount of that wealth that will transfer from one generation to the next at $72 billion over the next 10 years and $173 billion over the next 20 years. If just 5 percent of that transferring wealth were donated to community foundations, the impact could be huge: $8.7 billion over 20 years.

Does your community have this kind of funding resource or transition plan for wealth transfer?  Let us know about it!

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.