Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bexley Community Foundation set to benefit all residents by John Matuszak for Bexley Public Radio.

For more than two decades, the Bexley Education Foundation has provided innovative programs and state-of-the-art facilities for the city's schools by tapping into the community's deep philanthropic and volunteer spirit - and without drawing on taxpayer dollars.

Now, a new entity, the Bexley Community Foundation, is set to mine that same rich vein for projects that will benefit all citizens, without breaking an already tight city budget.

"This is community pride made visible," Doug Kridler, head of the Columbus Foundation, said to the many local leaders and Bexley boosters who attended the Dec. 17 meeting at the Columbus Foundation headquarters.

Kridler also made it clear that this effort is something every Bexley resident can participate in and benefit from. "This is not our community foundation. This is your community foundation."

The mission of the Bexley Community Foundation, according to Peter Halliday, co-chairman of the steering committee and driving force behind its creation, is to "maintain and improve Bexley as a place to live, work and play."

Those goals will be achieved by giving residents a way to donate either their personal wealth or their time as volunteers.

A survey conducted earlier this year showed that 90 of respondents were likely or very likely to give to the community foundation, and 85 were likely or very likely to volunteer.

The foundation hopes to fund one or two projects in its first year.
The Bexley Community Foundation grew out of the Bexley Heritage Fund, that started 10 years ago with five families and $50,000.

Projects undertaken in that time, Halliday pointed out, include supplementing the salary of Bexley's first development director, Dan Lorek, whose efforts resulted in $47 million being invested along Main Street.

The Heritage Fund also helped spruce up the city's gateways and mounted the "Save Jeffrey Mansion" campaign, which led to the city spending $1.3 million for urgently needed exterior repairs.

There is a lot left to do in Bexley but it is clear that without a strong commercial tax base "resources are outpaced by the needs and expectations of the community," commented steering committe co-chair Susan Quintenz, who also serves on the city's Tree and Public Gardens Commission.

Viable communities have strong public-private partnerships, she added. The tree commission raises private funds, but can go nowhere without the cooperation of city officials, she said.

The Bexley Community Foundation seeks to model itself on similar organizations around the state and the country.

New Albany has had a community foundation for 14 years, noted Diana Newman, a consultant with the Benefactor Group, and has funded a lecture series, a safety town for kids and a cultural arts center.

Halliday has long pushed for renovations to Jeffrey Mansion and additions to its offerings that will make it self-sufficient, much of which has been beyond the financial resources of the city.

Other possibilities for Bexley could include promotion of lifelong learning through its many educational institutions, and the creation of a more environmentally friendly "green community," Quintenz offered.

The foundation has already drawn from the well of experience and civic commitment for its steering committee. Halliday and Gary Giller will be heading up the committee for resource development, which will encompass building an endowment and creating a planned giving program.

Finance and accountabilty will be the responsibility of Frank Reed and David Bolon, who are promising transparency in their operations.

Grantmaking and community relations will be overseen by Judith Brachman and DeeDee Glimcher.

Communications and marketing will be handled by Kyle Katz and Kelly Unangst.

With a steering committee in place, the next steps will include recruiting a board of directors, finding office space, hiring an adminstrator and searching for a full-time president. Halliday said the presidential search will probably take place in the second half of the year.

Jim Gross, former city attorney and councilman, has been advising on the legal issues. He reported that the Bexley Community Foundation has been incorporated as a non-profit organization, and its application for tax-exempt status has been filed with the IRS, with a determination expected by the end of the second quarter of 2010.

Those interested in contributing to the Bexley Community Foundation before it has received its tax-exempt status can make checks payable to the Columbus Foundation, with Bexley Heritage Fund written on the memo line

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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