Our History

Celebrating Over 30 Years of Trusted Service

Whether adjusting to changes in community needs, or looking beyond those needs to foster a deeper knowledge of philanthropy itself, for thirty years the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound has made a lasting impact. See our anniversary book "The Practice of Giving: 30 Years of Community Giving."

Our original logo, 1989

An old version of the Community Foundation's Logo

Past logo

Past logo

Past Logo

An old version of the Community Foundation's Logo celebrating 30 years

30th Anniversary logo

Our logo today

Started in 1989 as a response to a community “visioning” session called Olympia 2010, the Community Foundation was initially created to build permanent funding sources to achieve this vision.

Originally an all-volunteer organization, the Community Foundation relied on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation to manage the funds it created. Its initial focus was on building the capacity of existing local nonprofits through trainings for boards and staff, and assisting with fundraising for operating expenses.

Today, the Foundation holds over 100 separate funds and serves three counties. The assets we steward have grown to $40 million, and we have awarded more than $19 million in grants and scholarships over the years. We distributed over 2.4 million dollars in grants and scholarships in 2020, and administered another $1 million in CARES Act relief funds.

Our growth is a tribute to our community’s recognition of the value of philanthropy, and the vital role nonprofits play in creating a thriving community. Thanks to the generosity of thousands of local donors, the Community Foundation has evolved to become a place to address unmet needs, build community assets, and strengthen the South Puget Sound.

Community Foundation Milestones

1989

Founded as Greater Thurston County Community Foundation

1993

First scholarship distribution: Set up by L&E Bottling Co.

1994

Established revolving loan fund to enable child care workers to achieve more formal credentialing to enhance the professional nature of their businesses

1996

Hired first full-time Executive Director (Colleen Gillespie)

1997

Name changed to the Community Foundation; expanded service area to include Mason and Lewis Counties

1999

Reached $1 Million in assets; ended reliance on Greater Tacoma Community Foundation for asset management

2000

Initiated endowment building campaigns with $10,000 match per nonprofit

2002

Name changed to the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound

2004

Hired past President & CEO Norma Schuiteman

2008

Received National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations accreditation—a rigorous review of community foundation operations, policies, and procedures

2009

Assets under management reached $5.5 Million

2010

Irving A. Lassen Foundation, a private foundation, converted its $5.5 Million in assets to a discretionary fund at the Community Foundation

2012

Received 4-year $500,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to address poverty alleviation; received generous bequest from Neddie Farrington for the benefit of the Westport area

2013

Launched Environmental Grantmaking initiative; renewed accreditation for National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations

2016

Distributed more than $1 Million in grants and scholarships in one year for the first time; received second grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2017

Launched Give Local—an effort to increase community philanthropy through online giving

2018

Bequest of $5.6 Million from the estate of Hal Marcus received for designated charities and areas of interest determined by the Marcuses; Foundation assets reach $25 Million

2019

Hired current President & CEO, Mindie Reule

2020

Raised COVID-19 relief funds, distributed CARES Act funding, deepened our commitment to equity, and unrestricted most grants to support our communities through a challenging year

"At any age, we all have assets to share. Small amounts make a difference. And we really are all in this together.”

- Janet, Community Foundation Fund Holder

“Philanthropy is an important piece of helping to sustain a thriving, healthy community... the dividends are a healthier, vibrant community.”

- Give Local Donor

"I know I can pick up the phone and call the CommunityFoundation and they'll take our call... I've been incredibly impressed with the generosity and sense of togetherness I've encountered in the South Sound. This community is strong because of that and only because of that."

- Brian, Local Nonprofit Leader