Summer Interns of The Gathering Place accompanied by Executive Director Lucas Ramirez paid the Community Foundation a visit recently to say "thank you" for past support....
Dr. Hepburn expressed appreciation and queried them on the circumstances that brought them to our community, the learning and experiences that were most memorable and their future dreams and plans. What came through loud and clear was an appreciation for the ministry of Gathering Place and our community.
We wish them every success in their futures.
CASA Glynn received a grant in 2013 from the Community Foundation to upgrade their server and computers. No more lost data, freeze ups and frustration!
One of the volunteers shared her appreciation.... "I have very limited computer skills and it was always a struggle to write the many reports. I typically would spend hours at the CASA office completing court reports, panel reports and monthly report. Now there is a dedicated computer for CASA volunteers! I am able to complete my work immediately and what used to take me hours now takes 30 minutes. It frees me up to spend more time with my CASA child."
Baby Steps Creates Literacy Center at Head Start
The African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” was clearly in the minds of the Glynn County volunteers, educators, businesses, and local philanthropists who gave so generously to transform a drab, grey cinderblock room at the Glynn County Head Start School into an “under-the-sea themed” literacy center that opened April of 2013.
The room was another effort in the “Baby Steps” Early Literacy Initiative of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation to offer age-appropriate literature in a “print-rich” and visually stimulating environment. The community foundation plans to open several more literacy centers, accessible to children in areas where there are low income families. Plans also call for trained community volunteer readers to staff the rooms for regular readings.
A giant octopus, smiling shark, schools of fish, crabs, hot pink coral, and blue waves, are among the images that brighten the walls and bear print labels, thanks to the amazing artistic talent of early education teacher Amy Kramer and renowned local artist Nancy Muldowney, both of whom also directed the volunteers who offered assistance in transforming the room.
Baby Steps Coordinator Maryellen Aiken added face-front book case displays and more than 300 books provided through donor contributions to the Baby Steps initiative at the foundation. Head Start was also able to provide two “smart board” type computers for the children to benefit from interactive literacy technology.
“It is imperative to provide children with the tools they need to learn how to read very early in the education pipe-line, and there's no better place to do this than at a Head Start program where we can reach well over 200 three and four year old children," said Lee Owen, executive director of Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Coastal Georgia by promoting and increasing philanthropy. “The room was a “perfect storm” of talent and generosity – from the creative genius and passion of Amy, to the sweat equity of teachers and parents, to the guidance from the College of Coastal Georgia’s education department.”
The goal of Baby Steps is to help ensure that every child in the community, no matter what socio-economic level, is ready to read and ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten. Providing better access to books and print-rich environments is just one of several ways that Baby Steps is accomplishing this goal – and making a “splash!”
Guidestar awarded the Community Foundation with gold seal status which represents the highest rating for transparency and commitment to excellence. Of the 44,000 nonprofits who have attained either a bronze, silver or gold designation, only some 1,400 - 3% - have earned the gold level designation and we are one!
GuideStar USA, Inc. is an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies. In 2010, their database contained over 5 million IRS Forms 990 on 1.9 million organizations. This 20 year old organization collects and disseminates information on every IRS registered nonprofit.
Would a 10-17% annual return on an investment interest you?
According to Nobel Prize economics winner James Heckman and other leading economists, every dollar invested in early childhood education and literacy can yield as much as 17% in return. These powerful returns come from children who achieve academic success and grow up to become productive citizens. An educated and literate community enjoys the benefits of reduced crime, decreased need for costly academic remediation, lower welfare rolls and fewer publicly funded safety nets, an increased tax base, and a more highly skilled workforce that attracts new industry. It is simply the very best investment in a community’s quality of life and economic development that one can make.
- Up to 90% of the brain’s “architecture” is formed in the first three years of life
- Children not prepared for kindergarten often cannot read and comprehend in third grade when “learning to read” is replaced by “reading to learn”
- These are the children who are most likely to become high school dropouts
Northwest Mississippi’s community foundation launched a bold campaign three years ago to create an endowment for the community’s future and its early childhood education efforts. Endowed funds now exceed $2 million, built with six figure gifts and with donations as small as $10. With the interest alone, they have provided training for over 600 child care center workers, distributed over 1,000 book bags, advocated on a statewide level for increased pre-K funding, and established a resource and referral center.
If Northwest Mississippi can do it, can’t we?
The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation invites you to join our campaign and make an investment in our Baby Steps Early Childhood Literacy Initiative. For the past 18 months a community-wide advisory council has met and has developed plans for specific projects that will ensure that our children from birth to age five get the start they deserve to succeed in school.
We are not asking for just another charitable donation, but rather an investment in this community’s future – perhaps a future that will have fewer soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters and drop-out prevention programs you may currently support with your charitable dollar.
The following communities are examples of many across the nation that have created permanent endowments for early childhood education efforts:
- Aspen, CO $1.2 million
- Boulder, CO $4 million
- N.W. Mississippi $2 million
- Marin County, CA $35 million
- Evanston, IL $2 million
- Miami/Dade County $100 million
Here in the Golden Isles, we’ve seen many successful campaigns of this size over the past few years to support historical tracts and buildings, health, and animal welfare…all important, but are they more important to this community’s future than our community’s children?
A similar $2 million permanent endowment for early literacy programs in our community would sustain all the council’s proposed plans and programs on the interest alone – leaving the capital intact for future generations to continue supporting early education efforts, year after year, without resorting to annual campaigns. Now that’s an investment with impact!
Funds from the Endowment will be devoted exclusively and permanently to promoting early childhood literacy. Specific grants from the fund will depend on needs and opportunities that will change over time.
If you wish to make a difference, not just for a year but for the future of this community and its children, join us.
Please consider an investment to build a permanent endowment by donating either cash or non-cash assets to the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation for Baby Steps.
Hepburn takes the helm in 2014...
At its meeting of the Board of Directors June 5, 2013, the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation unanimously voted to hire Dr. Valerie Hepburn as Executive Director when Lee Owen retires in July of 2014. The action follows the unanimous recommendation of the foundation’s Executive Committee.
Lee Hiers Owen, who currently serves as Executive Director, had notified the Foundation of her plans to retire in 2014. Hepburn, who is stepping down as president of the College of Coastal Georgia on June 30th, will fulfill a prior commitment to a year of research and policy work with the University System of Georgia and then join the Community Foundation in mid‐2014. Rees Sumerford, Chairman of the Foundation, indicated that he and the Executive Committee approached Hepburn once Owen announced her planned retirement. He and the board expect a seamless transition and continued strong growth and engagement for the Foundation.
“Lee has done a terrific job and we are pleased that she will continue to serve for the coming year,” said Sumerford. “Valerie and Lee have worked closely on a number of education and community initiatives. We are delighted to be able to have identified a new leader of Valerie’s caliber and capabilities. We believe that the Foundation will continue to expand its relevance and its reach across the region.”
Of the new role, Hepburn reflects, “Working with the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation provides the opportunity to support philanthropy and innovation which improve the economy and quality of life in our tri-county region. The position allows me to build on my knowledge and recent experiences to continue the positive, impactful work of this young community foundation. We love Coastal Georgia, and there remains important work yet to be done.”
The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation was established in 2005 with the goal of working with local philanthropists - ordinary citizens with extraordinary vision, connecting them with local nonprofits to improve the quality of life across Camden, Glynn and McIntosh counties. The Foundation carries the National Standards certification from the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C., demonstrating adherence to the highest standards of operational efficiency and stewardship. Though still young, the community foundation has grown significantly in philanthropic assets, currently totaling more than nine million dollars, and anticipates a strong trajectory for the future.
“Toxic Charity” Author Challenges Annual Event Audience
“Give once and you create appreciation; twice you create anticipation; three times – expectation; four times – entitlement; five times – dependency.”
With a gentle tone and humor, but a strong conviction honed through over four decades’ grass roots development work in inner city Atlanta, Bob Lupton argued in front of an audience of some 80 founders, fund holders and community friends at the March annual event that much harm is done by misdirected but well-intentioned charity.