May 31, 2013 09:14AM
● By Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
When Matt Huckabay—executive director of local nonprofit, The Center for Violence-Free Relationships—had an idea for a program to provide mental health therapy for kids exposed to family violence, he also had a huge problem: it had never been done before.
“It was our belief that if we could intervene in these kids’ lives, we could reduce the likelihood of them becoming a next generation of abusers or victims,” Huckabay says. “Were it not for the El Dorado Community Foundation being willing to take a risk on a new program, the Second Generation Project would have never been more than an idea.”
The Foundation provided a $60,000 grant over three years to develop and pilot test the program, with outstanding results. The program is in full implementation today. Its work is one more example of the Foundation’s efforts to be a steward for people and organizations wanting to direct their philanthropic support to the most pressing local needs.
Central to that steward role is the importance of “smart giving.” “Every dollar we give is an intelligent, educated dollar,” says Bill Roby, the El Dorado Community Foundation’s executive director. “Rather than scatter money around and spread the veil of caring so thin that nothing gets done, we’re here to take on the biggest problems, resolve them, and move on to the next one.”
Founded in 1992, the Foundation donates about $650,000 annually to causes and programs in the El Dorado County community. To the average person at Starbucks on any given Tuesday that may not mean much, but Roby puts it into sharp perspective. “Take a look around that Starbucks. Six or seven out of 10 people in there have been touched by the Foundation in some way. They, or someone they know has been served by, or needed information from, one of the nonprofits in the region that the Foundation has helped support.”
Looking ahead, the Foundation is focused on three issues affecting the county: economic development, the homeless population, and the needs of foster youth—a huge percentage of which are also part of the homeless community. Worse, research shows that many of the young girls are caught up in sex trafficking.
Is $650,000 enough to really address these problems? The short answer is no—there’s always room to grow in meeting the need, but by focusing on its giving, the Foundation is able to make forward progress. By identifying the local non-profit agencies focused on these challenges, the Foundation can step in with auxiliary funding that helps them be more successful in achieving their missions.
As a result of these efforts over the past 20 years, the successes streaming from the Foundation’s involvement are many, but Roby is quick to give credit where it’s really due. “For an organization like this to thrive takes a community that’s willing to invest in what we do,” he says. “We don’t look to donors to ‘give,’ we ask them to invest in efforts that make our community better.”
For more information, visit eldoradocf.org.