The community foundation movement began in Cleveland Ohio in 1914 and sixty-six years later the Community Foundation of Lorain County was created 30 miles to the west in Lorain County. Our history is an amazing story of an organization rich with innovation, strong in integrity and filled with the aspirations of a very generous community.
In 1979 and 1980, creation of a community foundation to serve the needs of the Lorain County area became a prime concern of the Trustees of the Nordson Foundation: Evan W. Nord, Eric T. Nord, and William D. Ginn. They were convinced that a local, public foundation could make certain kinds of charitable giving easier and more productive for both donors and the community at large. They convened a group of community leaders to turn this dream into a reality.
The first Board meeting of “The Greater Lorain County Community Foundation” was held in November 1980. Nordson Foundation pledged $500,000 if that amount could be raised by other contributions. The match was soon met and the Nordson Foundation further offered to lend their staff for at least the first three years in order to assist in raising funds and administering the grants process. Three years extended to six and in 1987, the Community Foundation moved to their own office, hired the first full time Executive Director and became independent.
The Foundation changed it's name to "Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County" in 1984. During the early years the Community Foundation pioneered the creation of school endowment funds, partnerships with local school districts and their communities, to build permanent endowments to provide added educational value to local students. The Community Foundation was instrumental in the creation of numerous organization including Second Harvest and Leadership Lorain County. Funds, assets and grantmaking grew at a steady pace as the foundation gained capacity and earned the trust of Lorain County residents. Working with local leaders, the Community Foundation also pioneered the creation of population based affiliated fund with the Hispanic Fund in 1986 and the predecessor of the African-American Community Fund in 1989.
During the 1990s, the Community Foundation participated in several national efforts to learn and grow, including peer assessments through the Council on Foundations, a diversity funds initiative through the Ford Foundation and a community foundation leadership initiative funded by the Ford and MacArthur Foundations. The later led to the expansion of school endowments for all Lorain County School Districts and the creation of the Center for Leadership in Education.
The Community Foundation hosted, in 1998, a delegation from Poland eager to learn the US model of community foundations. That connection led to twelve years of involvement as a member of the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network and an international learning community exploring the best of North American and European adaptations of the original model. The Community Foundation has hosted visitors from at least fifteen different countries and is well recognized and regarded in the global community foundation movement.
In 2005, the Foundation was rebranded the “Community Foundation of Lorain County” and also became the first Community Foundation in the United States to be certified in compliance with National Standards for US Community Foundations. This accreditation provides third-party confirmation that the Community Foundation of Lorain County operates using recognized best practices.
The Foundation moved to its current location in 2011 providing a permanent home for this FOREVER institution. Assets at the Foundation topped $100 million in 2013, marking a significant milestone and putting the Foundation in the top 2% of all foundations in the United States. While good business practices and strong investment returns have helped, we can never forget that this community treasure was created from the generosity of thousands of Lorain County residents who share a desire for a strong and vibrant community.
Dr. Jeptha Carrell – 1980 to 1986
Carrol Simonetti – 1986 to 1995
Dr. Malcolm Peel – 1995 to 1997
Dolly Minter (Interim) – 1997
Brian Frederick – 1998 to 2017
Cynthia Andrews – 2017 to Present