(L-R) Kathy Smith, Director of Donor Relations; Haleigh Smith, Director of Finance; and Brittney Timmons, Director of Community Strategies and Initiatives

By Larry Oskin

The Community Foundation of South Lake (CFSLC) is building a better community through philanthropy, collaboration and leadership.

History: The Community Foundation of South Lake was formed in June 1995 as the result of the sales agreement between the South Lake Hospital and Orlando Health. With that sale, they started this organization with a seven million dollar endowment to support this community with an exciting new granting foundation from four original generous founders: Oakley Seaver, George Hovis, Mike Conley and Don Wickham.

As a Community Foundation, their granting capacity derives from the interest off the endowment and area citizens who are generous philanthropists. This investment income is used for grants that will continue to improve the quality of life in our local South Lake area communities in perpetuity. The Community Foundation of South Lake is a 501C-3 non-profit charitable organization. They follow the principles of endowment perpetuity, to help make sure that all of the gifts made to the Foundation will continue to grow and impact our community. The Community Foundation of South Lake has grown to manage over $13 million in assets and has cumulatively awarded more than $5 million to local nonprofits and over $600,000 in scholarships to students here in South Lake County.

Community Services: The CFSLC offers and manages an array of scholarships, individual donor funds and 501(c)(3) organization funds. They act as a valuable service to philanthropists who want to generously give back to our community now and later and organizations that want to continue their services in the community. They also assist with convening on issues to address in the community.

Women’s Giving Alliance: This program is designed as a ‘Giving Circle’, where WGA members contribute individually, yet make grants collectively. Each member represents a link in an ever-growing chain that enables the Women’s Giving Alliance to achieve far more together than its members could accomplish on their own. They believe that when you invest in women and children, you will lift the value of the entire community. Since April 2014, the Women’s Giving Alliance has grown to over 40 members strong and given out $122,000 in grants. They are proud to announce nine Legacy Members who have committed to a $25,000 donation that supports the WGA’s work to help women and children, in perpetuity.

Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith, director of Donor Relations notes, “It remains our hope that as we grow the membership, we will be able to significantly grow the impact we have on the women and children of this community through our granting process.”

The DREAM Initiative: Started just 4 years ago, this pilot program enrolled 19 local students who are guaranteed scholarships upon high school graduation, provided by the CFSLC. They help these students through mentorship, leadership skill building, academic, social and community support and high school graduation. These students are enrolled in DREAM for about 6 years, receiving programming that will enhance their lives, preparing them for their futures.

Connecting People With Causes That Matter! Donors can remain anonymous or openly publicize their generosity. There are numerous ways the Community Foundation can assist you with your generous giving plans. Whether you want to make a one-time donation or establish a permanent charitable legacy, virtually any asset can be used to make an impact. Donations can be made with cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, life insurance and business interests. By establishing your own special fund with the Community Foundation, you can make your charitable contributions in more effective and efficient ways of giving. They will help you determine what kind of charitable fund is right for you.

This diverse community foundation is not focused on just one issue. They maintain a broad focus to help provide opportunities that are relevant to South Lake County. By a thorough process of managing and investing donor funds, connecting donors with causes and by also enabling donors to make informed decisions through helping strengthen nonprofits; they plan to continue to serve our community through education and grants. The Community Foundation strives to fulfill its mission to provide leadership to enhance the quality of life by identifying community needs and seeking philanthropic support as permanent funding to meet those needs. The CFSLC wants to help anyone interested in giving back to the community.

Smith adds, “The better we are at working together as a community foundation with you, our donors and the community at large, the greater the impact we will all have on our community!”

For more information on the services and events of the Foundation, contact Kathy Smith at 352-394-3818 or email kathy@cfslc.org.

Community Foundation of South Lake is located at 2150 Oakley Seaver Drive, Clermont.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Larry Oskin is a writer and photographer for the South Lake Tablet. He is the owner of Marketing Solutions / Art Beautique, offering creative marketing, media relations and professional fine art photography services. He is a board member of the Clermont Downtown Partnership and the Clermont Historic Village.