The Crawford Heritage Foundation will join more than 700 community foundations across the United States in celebrating charitable giving during Community Foundation Week, November 12-18, 2009. In 2007, community foundations gave an estimated $4.1 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in fields that included the arts, education, environment, disaster relief, and health and human services.

Locally, the Crawford Heritage Foundation, the community foundation serving all of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, has awarded more than $2 million in grants and scholarships since they were established in 1998. Most grants are made to organizations selected by donors who funded permanent endowments.

The Foundation also awards discretionary grants to organizations it selects on a semi-annual basis. Previous grants have assisted in many areas. Patients’ in-need have received care and medication. Families have been kept safe and sheltered. Children have learned about business, computers, theater and music. Adults have received support to improve literacy skills, earn a GED and make smart financial choices. Senior citizens have been taught art and technology. Local parks, greenways, historical sites and recreational areas have been improved.

“Community foundations are the heart of our cities and towns. We know the places of need in our area, and we can direct resources to solve those problems,” said Christian Maher, Executive Director. “Through the Foundation, people can give towards scholarships, interest areas (such as the arts, education or the environment) and specific nonprofit organizations. However, many simply ask us to give their money where it is most needed.”

Community foundations are one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy in the Untied States, with total assets of more than $50 billion. Every state in the U.S. is home to at least one community foundation. Although community foundations make up only 1 percent of all U.S. grantmaking foundations, they account for more than 9 percent of all foundation giving. While the community and clients each foundation serves vary greatly, every community foundation shares in the commitment of improving the lives of others.

“Community foundations are catalysts for positive change within both urban and rural areas,” said Steve Gunderson, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Donors of all income levels and from all geographic regions are finding community foundations to be an ideal way for them to easily give back to their community in a meaningful way.”

Across the nation, community foundations help create stronger hometowns where families want to establish roots, with recreational parks, social service programs, and scholarship opportunities for promising local students.

Community Foundation Week began in 1989 with a proclamation from former President George H.W. Bush and a congressional briefing about community foundation activities. The observance has made donors seeking to maximize their philanthropic dollars aware of community foundations’ charitable activities and services.