The speakers at the Black Belt Community Foundation Sixth Anniversary were L-R Dr. Walter Hill, Dean of Agriculture at Tuskegee University and BBCF Board Chair; Mark Crews, Alabama Power Company and BBCF Board ; Felecia Jones, BBCF Executive Director; George McMillian, Jr., past BBCF Board Chair; and Johnny Johns, CEO of Protective Life Corporation.
The Black Belt Community Foundation celebrated its sixth anniversary on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at the offices of the Protective Life Insurance Company in Birmingham. The event was hosted by Protective Life and Alabama Power Company.
Over 200 people attended the event, with about half coming from the Board, Community Associates and grantees of the foundation and the other half composed of current and potential donors and supporters of the foundation.
Over the past six years, the Foundation has worked tirelessly to help Alabama’s most challenged region realize its potential, and it has made significant progress towards achieving its mission and vision. The foundation serves people and organizations in 12 counties stretching across the south central part of the state.
The Black Belt Community Foundation was established in 2004 to support local efforts that contribute to the strength, innovation, and success of all of the region’s people and communities.
To date, the BBCF has awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to support more than 400 community-led initiatives across the Foundation’s 12-county service area.
The Ford Foundation has recognized BBCF’s good work by selecting it as one of only five nonprofit community foundations nationwide to participate in its Rural Development Philanthropy Endowment Initiative. Through the Ford Foundation initiative, the BBCF has been challenged to build an endowment that can sustain its important mission for generations to come.
“Because of the Ford challenge, the BBCF has an unparalleled opportunity,” said George McMillan Jr., immediate past BBCF Board Chair. “The Ford Foundation will provide our organization, up to $1 million in matching funding based on a one to two match. Since the BBCF’s selection last year, we have raised $1.6 million from over 1,000 individuals as well as local and national foundations who believe in our mission. Some people gave as little as a dollar and others made larger contributions
“Each gift, large or small, that we have secured moves the BBCF closer to its goal of building a $3 million endowment to fund programs across Alabama’s Black Belt. At the start of our anniversary program, we needed to raise an additional $370,000 to complete this first matching challenge,” said McMillan.
During the program, Johnny Johns, CEO of Protective Life, announced that his corporate foundation had agreed earlier that day to contribute $100,000 to the BBCF’s matching grant campaign. “We are expecting other donors who attended or were invited to attend the meetings to also contribute to help us to meet the remainder of the challenge,” said McMillan.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a larger endowment of $6 to 10 million to generate annual support for our operations and grants. This initial $3 million challenge grant program is just the starting point of our overall fundraising efforts,” said Carol P. Zippert, Board member and founder of the BBCF
Jones said the 6th Anniversary Celebration will showcase the Foundation’s work and hopefully spur additional contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations to help the BBCF exceed the $2 million necessary to fully utilize the $1 million Ford match.
“The Black Belt Community Foundation is grateful to have extraordinary partners such as Protective Life and Alabama Power. Additionally, we appreciate all of our partners and friends, both near and far, who have given so selflessly to make the Black Belt a stronger region,” said Felecia Jones, Foundation executive director. “It’s through our partners’ generous gifts of time, talents and treasure that we have been successful in transforming this region so many call home—for this reason, we celebrate.”
Jones said the 6th Anniversary Celebration showcased the Foundation’s work and will hopefully spur additional contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations to help the BBCF exceed the $2 million necessary to fully utilize the $1 million Ford match. “As we reflect over the past six years, we are most grateful for each individual, organization, and corporation that has supported our work,” Jones said.
For more information about the Black Belt Community Foundation, visit www.blackbeltfound.org.
To learn how you can help support the organization and its Ford Foundation challenge grant, contact the BBCF Office at 334-874-1126 or email@example.com.
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