Community foundation considered at SLT |

Community foundation considered at SLT

A never-ending well of money – it is the wish of every nonprofit organization, and one that the El Dorado Community Foundation believes is possible for South Lake Tahoe.

Started in 1994, the foundation’s purpose is to build a permanent endowment fund for El Dorado County residents. On the West Slope the foundation has doled out around a million dollars to various nonprofit agencies and community programs. Although the foundation has given some funding to South Lake Tahoe causes, Executive Director Stephen Healy said it would like to do more.

“We recognize that there is plenty of need here and if there was more money we could make a difference,” Healy said. “We are trying to create concern for the problems and hope that we can do something about it.”

Last week, South Lake Tahoe residents Ann and Gene Rasmussen held a luncheon at their home in the Al Tahoe neighborhood to bring agencies and community members together.

“Public funding is rapidly disappearing. Agencies are going to have to find ways to fund themselves,” said Gene Rasmussen, a board member of the foundation.

Community foundations provide permanent renewable money sources because only earnings are distributed, never the principal, Healy explained.

“We are looking for a pool of people who want to help. This isn’t just about money. This is about bringing people in the community together and providing a forum for change.”

Healy toured parts of the South Shore Friday with a representative of the S.H. Cowell Foundation. Cowell was established in 1956 through a bequest by San Francisco businessman Samuel Henry Cowell. It distributes around $9 million each year to community-based nonprofit organizations and schools in Northern California.

Cowell helped the El Dorado Community Foundation start with $100,000, which was used to make local grants, and later gave $25,000 to help with board development and education.

“I got to see what most visitors don’t get to see – the underside of paradise,” said Susan Vandiver, vice president for grant programs at Cowell.

Healy and Vandiver visited the Tahoe Family Resource Center and toured low-income housing.

“We went into four residences. I saw a family of four living in one hotel room with a little table and hot plate. They pay $650 a month and are grateful they have it,” Healy said. “We’re hopeful that Tahoe people will see a way to use our organization to improve conditions here.”

Foundation board members are hopeful about getting Tahoe involved.

“We’re doing our best to try and get something going in Tahoe,” said board member and South Shore resident Judge Terrence M. Finney. “We’re hoping to have a substantial pot of money to match to start an endowment up here.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the El Dorado Community Foundation can contact South Shore residents Gene Rasmussen at (530) 544-5931, Kerry David at (775) 588-5672, Judge Terrence M. Finney at (530) 577-1759 or Executive Director Stephen Healy in Placerville at (530) 622-5621.

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