Brief History of JCF
The Juneau Community Foundation was established to enrich and sustain Juneau and other Southeast Alaska communities into perpetuity. Three long time Juneau residents came together with a common goal: they wanted to create an organization that would provide long-term charitable support with a place where people could give now or leave a bequest and be certain their gift would be used the way they intended. From the start, our mission was to promote philanthropy and effectively respond to the needs of our community to create a healthy, safe, and culturally rich environment.
2000–2009: A Foundation for the Community
The three founders — Eric Kueffner, Ken Leghorn and Reed Stoops — signed the original incorporation documents in December 2000. We gained momentum in 2005, when tax-exempt status was obtained as a 501(c)(3) organization and the Board expanded to include additional community members. By the end of that year, the Foundation with ten directors was managing nearly $500,000 in assets. Four years later, with twelve members on the board and Ken Leghorn as a part-time executive director managing daily operations, the assets grew to almost $1 million. The focus during these years was to build donor advised and agency endowment funds for grants to Juneau and other Southeast Alaska communities.
Alaska Community Foundation and Rasmuson Support
In our early years, the Juneau Community Foundation entered into a cooperative agreement with the statewide Alaska Community Foundation. We worked with them on a Community Asset Building Initiative funded by the Rasmuson Foundation in which they matched local fund-raising efforts to create a fund at ACF for the Juneau Community Foundation. We also took advantage of some board training offered by ACF and learned from ACF policy statements.
While we ended up as an independent community foundation with local control over all aspects of the Foundation, we owe ACF and the Rasmuson Foundation thanks for their considerable efforts in helping us in our early years. We continue to work with both organizations on philanthropic efforts and receive annual earnings from the endowment fund that was initiated with ACF. In that regard, we are similar to the Homer Foundation, one of the other independent community foundations in Alaska. Over the years, the Rasmuson Foundation has assisted by providing experienced advice and information, providing a Tier I grant to build organizational capacity, and hosting educational opportunities for board members and staff, particularly when our role as a foundation was quickly and dramatically changing in 2015.
A notable early success story was management of the construction of the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House. Thanks in part to the efforts of Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, in 2007 the Alaska State Legislature appropriated $4 million to build a recreation facility in Juneau. We administered the grant and the field house was built on time and under budget. The Field House is now completely supported by user fees along with continuing support from Wells Fargo and other corporate sponsors.
By the end of 2009, the Foundation had awarded almost $250,000 in charitable grants. Those grants came from thirty-two separate funds to a variety of non-profit organizations.
2010-2015: Growth Years
The Foundation enjoyed steady growth from 2005 until 2014, when a truly extraordinary gift increased our asset base from $2.6 million to over $51 million. Longtime Juneau residents Bill and Katie Corbus donated more than $48 million to create five new endowed funds and a donor-advised fund. The jump in size from this generous donation enabled us to provide in excess of $1 million in donations in 2015 through the Juneau Hope Endowment Fund, which is directed to support specific social service needs.
This growth in grant making led to the board expanding the scope of the Foundation’s work by formally recognizing in its strategic plan the convening role we play in ensuring these granting programs help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of services for the most vulnerable in our community.
In December 2015, the Foundation almost doubled its granting role in the community by entering into an agreement with the City and Borough of Juneau to administer its social services grant funds. Using the same careful oversight that it exercises with the Hope Endowment, the Foundation provides the granting program for the CBJ social service funds. With assistance from community members with expertise in social service grant areas, the Foundation anticipates distributing more than $1.86 million in grants in 2016.
Amy Skilbred, the current Executive Director, began in January 2011 as a part-time employee. In the spring of 2014 her hours expanded and in September 2014, following the large donation, she began working full time. Between 2010 and 2015, the Board expanded to fourteen members, and Amy Skilbred moved from a part-time to a full-time employee and created a part time administrative assistant position.