MOUNT VERNON — Chances are you’ve heard of The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County. You may be aware of the fact that many community projects and agencies receive funding from it. Perhaps you’ve noticed that both companies and individuals support it financially. Someone in your family may have been on the receiving end of a college scholarship from the foundation. Odds are, however, that you don’t realize how easy it is to establish a legacy in the community in your name or that of a loved one.
The Community Foundation, now in its 68th year, manages nearly 300 individual charitable funds that exist to enhance the quality of life in Knox County. The foundation’s board of directors oversees more than $36 million in assets, and approves between $1.5 and $2 million in grants and scholarships each year. Some of the funds have six- and even seven-figure market values, with decimal points in places most of us will never visit. But many of the funds hold modest assets of between $5,000 and $10,000, and a Legacy Society charitable fund can be started with as little as $1,000.
Sam Barone is the executive director of the Community Foundation and its only employee. He came on board part-time in 2002 as the foundation’s first-ever employee, and two years ago the position was made full-time. Part of Barone’s job is to make the organization less of a well-kept secret, and he relishes the task.
“Up until the time the board decided to bring in an employee, the foundation was reactive and somewhat passive,” Barone said. “There was no outreach in the community. Now, we don’t wait for people to walk in the door. I speak to various groups throughout the county, and we communicate with attorneys, CPAs and financial advisers to get the word out about philanthropic opportunities.”
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