A Look at the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Past, Present, and Future

The Santa Fe Community Foundation (SFCF) just celebrated a big milestone, its 35th anniversary, which prompted us to take a quick look at where its grantmaking has come from and where it’s headed in the years to come. This is particularly timely now that the foundation has appointed a new president and CEO to take it into the future.

Related: Santa Fe Community Foundation: New Mexico Grants

SFCF was originally created by civic-minded locals with some money from the Gannett Foundation. Back in the early 1980s, Santa Fe was a very poor community—but with some very wealthy residents. Early board members describe the process of starting a community foundation here as being a “hard sell,” sometimes struggling to stay afloat with bake sales and art auctions here and there. Back then, some grants were as small as $50.

Fast forward to 2016, a time when SFCF has grown in assets from less than $5,500 to over $70 million. It’s brought in the support of philanthropy heavyweights like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and been recognized as one of most innovative community funders in the country. In 2015, this funder awarded a whopping $6.4 million in grants in the fields of education, health, animal welfare, economic opportunities, and the environment.

Arts, poverty, and education were the initial top priorites for this funder, but it has since broadened and expanded its scope quite a bit. These are some of the key issues now addressed by SFCF through its endowment funds, funding partnerships, and initiatives:

  • Affordable housing
  • Native American issues
  • LGBT issues
  • Nonprofit capacity building and training
  • Youth bullying
  • Access to health foods
  • Rural communities
  • Local entrepreneurs

Jane Egan, director of development, said, “As our profile has grown, we’re seen as a resource. People come to us for advice — donors, grantees, people in the community with ideas. We connect people. And it’s a safe place for all opinions.”

So now, we look ahead to see what the future holds for the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

In late June, SFCF announced that it had appointed Bill Smith as the foundation’s new president and CEO. He’s will start working alongside Interim President and CEO Jerry Jones in mid-August and fully take over in late-September. Smith comes from the National Coalition of Sexually Transmitted Disease Directors in Washington, NC, where he’s been serving as executive director for the past six years. He has split his time between Santa Fe and DC for the past decade and is known for his efforts in promoting health equity and justice. Whether SFCF grantmaking will shift to have more of a health focus in the years ahead is something we’re obviously curious about.

The fall 2016 grant cycle at SFCF will focus on health, human services, arts, and animal welfare. This community funder supports nonprofits in six counties in Northern New Mexico: Rio Arriba, Taos, Los Alamos, Mora, Santa Fe, and San Miguel. To celebrate its 35th year of operation, SFCF recently hosted an anniversary gala with a $175-per-person price tag.