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Early Childhood Literacy

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.

Leadership Transition

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 mid2014. 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

“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.

Community Need

children and backpacksBlessings In a Backpack

      - (Feeding the Future of America one school at a time)

A local program of Blessings in a Backpack was started at Altama Elementary School in Brunswick for the 2012-13 school year.  Blessings in a Backpack is a results-oriented, nationwide program designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Meal program, and have little or no food on the weekends.  Nationwide, 62% of children are fed weekday breakfast and lunch through the Federal program.  At Altama Elementary, the percentage of children qualifying is more than 90 percent, so the need is great.  Hungry children are not ready to learn.  Deborah Harris is the program coordinator who raises the funds, orders and arranges for delivery of the food, and coordinates volunteers to pack the food at the school.  Currently, 473 children are provided with easy-to-prepare kid-friendly food each weekend during the school year.  Publix at Glynn Place is helping by providing early access to information on special prices, and by delivering the groceries to the school.  100% of your donation goes directly to cover the cost of the food for the children at Altama Elementary. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health, and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program.  If you are interested in investing in this great program, please contact us or Deborah Harris at or (425) 260-5533.

Needed $25,000 by August 25, 2013

Zeist Foundation Makes Grant to Baby Steps

Atlanta Foundation Awards Grant to Community Foundation for Baby Steps Early Literacy Initiative

The Communities of Coastal Georgia is pleased to announce that the Zeist Foundation based in Atlanta has awarded a grant to fund a part-time coordinator position for the community foundation’s Baby Steps early literacy initiative. “For an Atlanta foundation to recognize the potential our initiative holds to improve kindergarten readiness is tremendous affirmation,” explained Chairman Rees Sumerford.   “A nonprofit must be invited to submit a proposal and it must address the needs of at risk children, youth, and families in the areas of education, arts & culture or health & human services. Zeist looks for evidence of collaboration and innovation – and the trustees felt that they found both in our community-wide literacy initiative.

Reasons to Give

The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation is unique in the range and depth of service that we offer to individuals and corporations who want to make a lasting difference.  As our partner in giving, you receive the simplicity and tax advantages of a public charity combined with the personal recognition, involvement and flexibility of a private foundation.  And because we plan to be here, serving Coastal Georgia for a long time, you can be assured that there will be a permanent source of funds creating a charitable legacy in which you can take genuine pride.

A named grantmaking fund can be established with a simple document that requires less than an hour to prepare as we guide you through the process.  With a minimum of $10,000, accomplishing your objectives is made easy by our professional management of your fund.

Our staff and governing board are made up of knowledgeable, concerned community citizens and volunteers like yourself who are dedicated to ensuring that your charitable giving is as effective as possible.  We quickly identify local and regional issues to make grants where they will do the most good.  If your fund operated independently and had to recreate our services on its own, the price tag would be prohibitive.  At the Foundation, your grantmaking fund shares the costs of a knowledgeable staff, enjoys excellent financial management and benefits from a closely monitored investment strategy.

Whether you want to give now or in the future, locally or nationally, we take pride in our ability to customize services to meet your charitable goals.  We will meet with you individually or with your financial advisor to discuss your charitable giving needs and how they can best be fulfilled to make the most of your philanthropic dollars.

You may establish a fund that supports charitable organizations or programs you care about, the community’s greatest areas of need, or a broad field of interest.  You may also contribute to an existing fund or make an unrestricted gift to the Coastal Community Endowment that our board of directors will put to good use in the community on your behalf.  An important part of our work is building a permanent collection of funds for our community.  Our board of directors ensures that these funds will grow in perpetuity and will continue to carry out the charitable objectives of the donors who established them.

You decide when or whether you want to be recognized for your giving or remain anonymous.  You can feel secure in knowing that your personal information will never be disclosed.

Immediate Tax Deduction
Because the Foundation is a public charity, donations qualify for the maximum available deduction for charitable contributions in the year in which the gift is made.  We can also offer solutions to help reduce your estate-tax liability.

For Grant and Scholarship Seekers

The Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation (CCGF) understands the importance of strong non-profit agencies serving the people of our community.  The mission, strength and effectiveness of non-profits contributes to the artistic vibrancy of our communities, the health of our children, the intellectual power of our citizens, the beauty of our environment, and our civic lives.  We applaud you for the strides that are being made and your commitment to the common purpose of a better community.

The Foundation supports several types of grants to approved charities:

  • Grants recommended by donors from Donor Advised Funds,
  • Grants awarded competitively in the Community Impact Fund grant cycle,
  • Grants from endowed funds allocated to the purpose determined by the donor(s),
  • Grants from business and community funds,
  • Grants from partner philanthropies with which we work.

CCGF also has four scholarships it oversees for deserving students and nonprofit agencies each year. We expect this number to grow as our Foundation grows.