Tips for Local Giving this Holiday Season

With hundreds of active nonprofits in San Luis Obispo County, there are many options available for giving during the Holiday Season that will ensure your tax-deductible contributions support our community. The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is here to simplify your year-end giving. Let us be your guide — we’ll handle the research, starting with these tips you can use to maximize the benefits of supporting your community.

Use a Donor Advised Fund (DAF): A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) opens up the world of philanthropy to donors who want to address community needs in San Luis Obispo County and beyond. You can enjoy full tax deductions now and contribute to the fund as frequently as you like, and then recommend grants to your favorite nonprofit organizations whenever it makes sense for you.

If you already have a fund held at The Community Foundation, you can easily recommend a distribution to the charity of your choice. For grants you wish to distribute in 2023, please contact before December 16. This is the preferred date to submit recommendations to provide the best chance of grantees receiving funds before December 31.

Use your IRA for Charity: Contributing from your IRA directly to The Community Foundation is an easy way to reduce your tax burden and make a gift to support multiple causes that are meaningful to you. The transfer must be to a qualified exempt nonprofit and may be for a designated purpose or field of interest fund. Make sure to contact your financial advisor for more information. 

Gifts of Cash:  You can donate to The Community Foundation directly by check, with cash, through our website, or however is easiest for you. You can trust us to help direct your contribution to a cause in SLO County or beyond. 

Gifts of Stock:  Donating appreciated stock offers you a way to support causes you care about while potentially enjoying a more cost-efficient deduction based on the current market value, not just what you originally paid. If your stocks have grown significantly since you bought them, donating them directly to a nonprofit like us can provide you with a deduction for their current value while bypassing taxes on potential gains. This means more of your contribution goes towards making a difference in our community.


Gifts of Property or Land: Donating real estate is a powerful way to fulfill your charitable aspirations while maximizing your tax benefits within legal boundaries.There are many ways that you can gift property to receive tax benefits and maximize your estate planning. The Community Foundation has established the Real Estate Foundation of San Luis Obispo County specifically for property gifts to alleviate property upkeep concerns, sales, insurance, and taxes for you and your family.

Your donations shape our community’s future. Partner with us to make a difference that lasts beyond the holiday season. Reach out to Donor Services at for personalized assistance. 

**The tips and information shared here are for educational purposes only and should not be considered official financial advice. We encourage readers to seek personalized guidance from a certified financial advisor for their specific financial needs.**

The Community Foundation will continue processing grants and issuing payments through the end of the year, but external factors such as delayed postal service or organizations closing offices for holidays, can impact when grantees receive funds. As a reminder, there is no tax implication for donors when grantees receive Foundation funds.

#25for25 Feature: An Open Letter from Jane Sinton

An open letter to the community from Jane Sinton about our Foundation’s humble beginnings, the Women’s Legacy Fund, and the amazing impacts that began with these passionate ideas. 

This feature is part of our #25for25 showcase where we highlight 25 stories to mark our 25 years of philanthropy in SLO County. These partners and community members have allowed the Foundation to continue giving and growing – together!

“When Dee Lacey first called me about helping to start a community foundation in San Luis Obispo County, she billed it as ‘you get to just give money away!’ Well, how could you say no to that? I should have known there was a hitch! In the beginning, we had to convince people to put money into the endowment before we could earn interest and be able to give that money away.

In hindsight, helping to start the Foundation and being the founding Board President was one of the most rewarding and hardest things I have done in my life. Now, here we are celebrating 25 years! We have given $66 million dollars back into the community to support people who need assistance. What I love about the Foundation is that we now have so many stories to tell about helping local people improve their lives. Real stories about real human beings in need – how we have helped to lift them up in life. We have stories of helping students go to college, helping the homeless find housing, helping save the environment, helping people with disabilities. The list goes on.

One of my favorite stories about the early days of the Foundation is when we had our first grants awards ceremony. We had very little money to give away, but we tried to make it count. It was the Turtle and Tortoise Club – a very modest club with few members, but they were passionate about taking turtles and tortoises around the county to schools to educate the kids. I think they asked for $200 to help with the gas money. When we awarded it to them at a wonderfully intimate awards gathering, they were so excited! It wasn’t a big grant, but it had a big impact on the people who were passionately dedicated to teaching kids about turtles and tortoises, as well as the kids who benefitted from their passion. Those were humble beginnings but stories like this drove us to work harder. That then convinced donors to give to their own passions to help us build a permanent endowment that will permanently help our community. Now we are able to give away thousands of dollars in multi-year grants to organizations that do the wonderful work of helping people in this community.

One of the things that makes CFSLOCO unique is that we all share information on what things have worked and what hasn’t worked. Early on in the Foundation’s evolution, I keyed in on one idea that really interested me – a Women’s Legacy Fund. Many community foundations across the country have some version of a women’s fund that builds an endowment to benefit women and girls. In 2002, the women serving on the Board of The Community Foundation got together and went to work. We set a goal of raising $100,000 to create a fund that could start giving away earnings within a few years. Women from across the county jumped in and signed up as Legacy Leaders for $1,000 each. We raised the first $100,000 in just three months. The fund is now at $2 million, and we have given more than $600,000 to organizations and programs focused on helping women and girls. And we have dozens of stories from our nonprofit partners of women and girls who have benefitted – by getting an education, leaving abusive relationships, learning financial literacy, leaving homelessness behind, becoming more self-confident, and bettering their lives and the lives of their families.

After serving more than 12 years on the Board, I termed out, but I just couldn’t leave the organization that I feel so passionate about. I have since sat on every committee that will have me – which turns out to be all of them! My most recent committee experience brings me full circle. I am a current member of the Grantmaking Committee. While on the Board, I concentrated my efforts on building an endowment and organizing the committees we needed to do our work effectively. The only committee I hadn’t served on was the grants committee. It’s particularly gratifying because, 25 years after Dee told me I would get to give money away, I am still helping to give the money away! What a rewarding experience that has been!

I have been able to watch The Community Foundation in action, giving back to people in the community. In particular, during the pandemic, it was incredible to see our donors’ tremendous response to the increased need across the county. The Community Foundation was able to support so many nonprofits who were then able to assist people who were suffering, and the agencies struggling to help them. It has been my honor and privilege, with so many other wonderful, hardworking, dedicated people – both Staff and Board – to build this Foundation that has made such a difference in the lives of people in this community!”

Janice Fong Wolf – 25th Anniversary Highlight

All throughout this year, we will be highlighting 25 stories to mark our 25 years of philanthropy in SLO County. Our #25for25 campaign showcases a selection of partners and community members that have allowed the Foundation to continue giving and growing together!

For 16 years, Janice Fong Wolf was the face of The Community Foundation to our nonprofit partners. A Cal Poly alumna, Janice worked for 19 years in health and human services and later found herself as a key player in creating our grantmaking program from scratch.

Janice is immensely proud of the work she did in the Foundation’s early days and incredibly grateful for the support of the community. Along with the Foundation’s staff  and a supportive Board of Directors, Janice was instrumental in creating an organization that was efficient and effective, but with a manageable workload for the small staff. Her oversight and work to establish the Raising a Reader early literacy program in SLO, a partnership with the Robert H. Janssen Foundation to support youth programs and distribute funds from the Hugo and Erna Klaproad estate to benefit homeless services in South County are all examples of the broad impact of her work. She oversaw the growth of quality programs that did not exceed their capacity to maintain a level of excellence. 

In 2000, the Foundation was ready to award grants. On Janice’s first day, they had 75 applications and needed someone to create the process. As an experienced grant seeker, Janice became a dedicated grant maker who was able to fashion a process that was friendly to the non-profit agencies but was also fair and objective. Janice and the Foundation’s Founders fashioned applications, created a review committee, and a fair and objective evaluation process.

Janice also helped with the initial design of the Foundation’s scholarship and awards program. Though she was cautioned that scholarship programs are very time-intensive, she moved forward on what she viewed as an important component of foundation work. The first awards created were programs recognizing individuals and organizations that improved the community. These included the Isabella Ruiz Humanitarian Award, Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Award, and Environmental  Award. 

Janice gained an encyclopedic knowledge of community needs and the organizations that were addressing those needs. She created relationships throughout the County that help strengthen bonds with the local non-profit agencies. Agencies might have viewed the Foundation as another rival for donor dollars. Instead, Janice gained their trust, and they came to see the Foundation as a partner. 

One example of her community-building is her early relationship with Bryan and Beverly Gingg. Bryan and Beverly had founded the accessibility advocacy group known as Access for All, that honors those who advocate for a community that is friendly to those who face limited accessibility due to physical challenges. The Ginggs asked Janice and the Foundation to run the program and host the annual Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Award ceremony held at Cal Poly. The program needed to be accessible to those with a variety of physical challenges. Janice arranged to have sign-language interpretation, large-format and Braille programs  and wheel-chair accessibility to all areas of the venue. Bryan, Beverly, Paul, and his wife Marion became valued members of the Foundation family. 

After retiring in 2016, Janice and Rex, her husband of 46 years, enjoy tending their garden at their home in Los Osos, traveling around the country in their RV with their dog, Ivy, or taking pleasure in  the natural beauty here in SLO.  After taking a year off from her many commitments, Janice continues to serve her community. She is a tutor for Literacy for Life, serves on the board of Cuesta College Foundation, volunteers with SLO Repertory Theatre, and reviews grant applications for SLO County.

Thank you Janice for all your years of service to The Community Foundation and to our community!

The Robert H. Janssen Foundation Youth & Youth Sports Fund

After a decade-and-a-half of partnership, The Robert H. Janssen Foundation and CFSLOCO established an endowment fund to continue the legacy of a beloved community member.

The Robert H. Janssen Foundation is a wonderful example of community philanthropy at its finest. 

For over 20 years, the spirited generosity of Robert H. Janssen has lived on through the dedicated work and contributions of The Robert H. Janssen Foundation. From youth fitness programs to college-readiness courses, the Janssen Foundation has provided countless funding opportunities for local youth across the county – all in the name of this local hero. 

Now, a new chapter begins for the estate as the baton is passed over to us as we continue to distribute the valuable gifts of Robert H. Janssen for years to come. 


Robert (known by friends and neighbors as Bob) was a lifelong resident of San Luis Obispo, an active supporter of youth and community activities, and devoted a considerable portion of his life to youth sports. His personality was unpretentious, and he had an encyclopedic knowledge and passion for leadership in civic and sports matters. 

After a long and fulfilling life, Bob passed away in 1996, but not without leaving behind the first of many impactful gifts for our community’s youth.

His family estate was established with a gift of $2 million that was to be distributed to young athletes and students hoping to continue their athletic careers and higher education. Bob’s investment in the future of the community is allowing his legacy to flourish and his life’s work to continue long after his passing.


Since 1996, the Janssen Foundation has awarded millions of dollars to support local youth programs. One such program is the North County Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program (​​NCASARP), which provides year-round supervised activities for the developmentally disabled of Atascadero, Creston, Templeton, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, San Miguel and Morro Bay.

In 2006, the directors of the Robert H. Janssen Foundation decided to join forces with The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County and decided they needed help with soliciting, evaluating, and finalizing proposals for grants within youth sports. Due to The Community Foundation’s ample resources and trusted positioning in the community, the directors of the Robert H. Janssen Foundation established a donor-advised fund to support their meaningful efforts. For more than 15 years, a strong partnership developed between the two foundations resulting in more than 231 grants.

Most recently, we offered proactive grants during the pandemic to support youth during shelter-in-place protocols; these powerful grants provided ‘busy bags’ from the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum and offered childcare by the YMCA, to name a few. 

A NEW CHAPTER:  Robert H. Janssen Foundation Youth & Youth Sports Fund

Our grantmaking partnership is now soaring to new heights: in order to support youth and youth activities further, The Janssen Foundation has decided to close its private foundation and transfer the estate to The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County.  

“The Community Foundation enabled the Janssen Foundation to extend its reach, to do a better job of vetting grant applications and monitoring results of grants,” says Warren Sinsheimer, President of The Robert H. Janssen Foundation, Inc. “When the directors decided after 25 years that a new direction for the Janssen Foundation was in order, they turned to the Community Foundation again. Today, the funds of the Janssen Foundation are a separate fund within the Community Foundation where those funds can indefinitely fulfill Bob’s vision of supporting youth and youth sports in San Luis Obispo.”

We are honored to take over the stewardship of Robert H. Janssen’s legacy. The legendary estate will be administered as a separately held endowment fund, to be called the Robert H. Janssen Foundation Youth & Youth Sports Fund.

“Robert Janssen was a special soul who devoted a great deal of his life to a special cause — our youth,” said Heidi McPherson, CEO of The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County. “We look forward to honoring Bob’s legacy by continuing to support and enrich youth activities across the county.”

Program Overview & Objectives:

Through the generosity of the Robert H. Janssen Foundation, grants are available to local nonprofit organizations providing youth enrichment programs and/or youth sports programs in the City of SLO and adjacent area within San Luis Obispo County.  The Janssen Youth & Youth Sports Fund seeks to support programs that enrich the lives of local youth and ideally reflect the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets. Mr.Janssen was a lifelong resident of SLO County and devoted a considerable amount of time to local youth sports and other community and youth activities.  He valued the benefits for all youth that could be gained through participation in team activities with positive adult mentorship.

Janssen grant funds should represent only a portion of the funds required to implement the program, and a preference is to support direct service costs. The Janssen Youth & Youth Sports Fund seeks to primarily support youth sports programs in San Luis Obispo County that provide access to all segments of the community regardless of income level. Secondly, the Fund will support youth enrichment activities in the City of San Luis Obispo and adjacent area, with an emphasis on active participation over educational programming. 

The maximum grant award will be $5,000. The Robert H. Janssen Youth and Youth Sports Fund is open for applications from January 16, 2023 to March 15, 2023, at 5pm. You can learn more and apply by CLICKING HERE.

Call to Action: What We’ve Learned About Homelessness in San Luis Obispo County and How You Can Help

You can help transform the lives of those facing homelessness in San Luis Obispo County this holiday season.

Homeless shelters can always use extra support, especially during the holidays and the winter months when they’re at their busiest. As San Luis Obispo County has inched out of the pandemic, homeless services across the county are preparing for the inevitable uptick in individuals and families requiring assistance and services. 

Story courtesy of ECHO

We recently reached out to local organizations and asked how they could use our community’s support in the cold winter months ahead. Here’s what the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, Inc. (CAPSLO), El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO), and 5 Cities Homeless Coalition had to say – three organizations we are grateful to support through an Opportunity to Thrive grant. This grant from our general grants program focuses on empowering and strengthening individuals to overcome obstacles while embarking on the road to self-sufficiency. Keep reading to learn more!


Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO)

CAPSLO has been San Luis Obispo County’s federally-designated community action agency since 1965. Through a variety of programs and in collaboration with other community service agencies, CAPSLO helps individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and economic stability.

In the past few months, CAPSLO has seen a massive increase in the number of families using its services. “Typically, we serve between 4-5 families per month in shelter and case management services here at Prado Homeless Services Center (HSC), but in the past year, that has grown to an average of 10 families per month,” says Loren Leidinger, CAPSLO’s Outreach/Development Director.

CAPSLO’s family dorms are currently at capacity, which has limited the number of families who can benefit from this resource. With an increase in the number of families falling into homelessness, emergency hotel vouchers are being distributed to keep up with the influx of families in need, while a tight housing market continues to cause a gradual increase in the length of time families are enrolled for emergency shelter services. 

Despite the increase in funding to families experiencing homelessness, community support is vital to these programs. A combined community effort involving organizations, foundations, and individuals must be present in order to effectively improve the lives of families and individuals across the county.

“We rely heavily on community partners and communities of faith to donate crucial resources that we use to make Welcome Home Kits,” says Leidinger. “These kits – which vary from bathroom kits, bedroom kits, kitchen, etc. – are designed to help individuals and families move from shelter or street-based homelessness into housing with all of the needed amenities required for a successful move-in.”

El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)

  Established in 2001, ECHO empowers people in SLO County to make positive change by providing food, shelter, and supportive services.Their various services ensure that individuals and families struggling with homelessness can find jobs, get fed, stay healthy, and find housing. 

ECHO operates two facilities in North County that each provide meals and a safe and secure overnight shelter to meet the immediate needs of families and individuals in the community who are facing hunger and homelessness. 

Having two centralized locations in North County is crucial to providing services that help individuals and families get back to work, identify affordable housing, and maintain hope throughout their housing journeys. Recent data trends at local shelters have shown an increase in families that are accessing ECHO’s services in Atascadero and Paso Robles. 

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we are able to keep our doors open and continue to offer our case management services and shelter programs,” says Austin Solheim, Donor Relations and Community Engagement Manager for ECHO. “In our 90-day transition program we have seen that having a stable landing pad and consistent case management has led to rates of over 50% of the individuals and families we served entering back into permanent housing.”

The funds recently awarded to ECHO from CFSLOCO will go towards their Client Assistance Program which helps community members get back on their feet when they are experiencing houslessness. The program pays for critical, short-term expenses that shelter residents and outreach clients need in order to successfully transition back to permanent housing and stable incomes. By reducing these expenses, community members are more able to secure jobs, find housing, and move into new homes.

5Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC)

Planning how best to address the needs of the homeless in San Luis Obispo County today involves many caring citizens and community leaders, and 5CHC is taking a collaborative approach to meet the challenge. 5CHC works hard to service families and individuals by providing the resources, support, and hope that they need to become self-sufficient, productive community members. 

The backbone of the 5Cities Homeless Coalition is its strength in channeling community resources, volunteers, and donor assets to meet the needs of the homeless population through existing and new programs. Prior to these collaborative efforts, a loose network of service providers existed.  Communicating and coordinating services through this network required time and energy, but this was a role 5CHC adopted and is actively working to fill. 

5Cities Homeless Coalition provides wrap-around services including case management and direct financial assistance – with a special emphasis on housing stability. Their efforts focus on helping the most vulnerable in our community maintain dignity while working toward a new home or retaining their home. Their work goes beyond the immediate, to ensure that clients have the plan, skill sets, and support needed to be successful and self-sufficient. More than 90% of those who 5CHC has helped to house (or prevented from eviction) remain housed more than one-year later.


  1. Rent to a family experiencing homelessness, or welcome families into your own home
  2. Provide Goods
    1. ECHO has created a wishlist with input from residents young and not-so-young   > VIEW THE WISHLIST <
  3. Donate funds to your local city or county specific non-profit 
  4. Volunteer
    1. With ECHO you can join a force of 1,500 community volunteers providing ancillary support to run shelter and meal programs for shelter residents and people facing hunger and homelessness in the community.
    2. Both online and virtual volunteer opportunities are available through CAPSLO
    3. View 5CHC Volunteer opportunities HERE


Grantee Highlight: Jack’s Helping Hand

Jack Ready, 2004

Many families of children with disabilities require assistance to meet their children’s special needs. Founded in 2006 by Paul and Bridget Ready in memory of their son, Jack, Jack’s Helping Hand provides assistance to local children struggling with cancer, special needs, and disabilities in San Luis Obispo County up to the age of 21.

How do they do it? Jack’s Helping Hand fulfills requests for assistance with medical equipment, provides transportation, food and lodging for out-of-town appointments and procedures, and helps with medical bills when there are no other sources to cover these needs. Their team assists over 70 families each month locally, and when they travel for appointments, surgery, and chemotherapy outside of our county. 

The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is grateful to support the work of Jack’s Helping Hand in the form of multiple grants. Various grants from our Foundation, the Alex Quaglino Family Fund, and Women’s Legacy Fund have successfully supported their Assistance Program enabling families to travel to specialty children’s hospitals for the best possible care, support the purchase of hearing aids, therapeutic braces, mobility devices, and supportive seating devices.  

Annie at Camp Reach for the Stars

The Robert H. Janssen Foundation – a fund of The Community Foundation – has been a significant supporter of Camp Reach for the Stars, the no-cost summer camp for children dealing with cancer and their families.  Located at Camp Yeager in Cambria, this family event is filled with activities, camping and plenty of opportunities for fun.  The Camp aims to give all kids coping with cancer the chance to be kids—an experience often taken away or put on hold by the disease. It allows the children to shed the hefty “cancer patient” label yet be surrounded by others who understand similar experiences.    

Jaylin, 2022

This month, their team is especially proud of Jaylin, who just finished a two- and half-year treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B.  Providing the fuel, food, and lodging to alleviate that added financial burden on her parents has been our mission since meeting them in 2019. Being able to support her family for their treatments in Los Angeles has been a humbling experience for their team.  Jaylin’s mother states it best:

“Jack’s Helping Hand has been such a blessing to our family. There are no words to describe how thankful we are to them. Driving 6 hours round trip to LA several times a month and having to stay overnight in hotels for treatment and procedures would have been impossible without their assistance. We are also so thankful to all the donors who give to Jack’s Helping Hand because of them Jaylin was able to go camp last year and was able to attend many fun events over the last couple of years.”

Jack’s Helping Hand has recently started building a universally accessible and inclusive park on 30 acres of generously donated land in Nipomo. The Jack Ready Imagination Park will be a place for children with disabilities to play with their families and peers. Current plans for the park include a large accessible playground, therapeutic riding facility, hardscape courts, playing fields, hiking trails, and barbeque and picnic areas.  

Learn more and support Jack’s Helping Hand at

Leaving Your Legacy with a Donor-Advised Fund

This content has been edited from its original version, which was created and published by National Philanthropic Trust. You can view the original article here.

Your estate plan is a powerful tool that can help you achieve many important goals. First and foremost, it allows you to provide for your loved ones when you’re no longer there. It can help you reduce probate fees, minimize your estate and inheritance taxes and plan how your affairs will be handled if you become incapacitated. It can also help you pass on something more: your values and beliefs. 

For many people, this process—often called legacy planning—involves incorporating philanthropic goals into an estate plan. With a donor-advised fund (DAF), you have several ways of creating a lasting legacy. We will show you how a DAF can help ensure that your charitable work continues for future generations.

Planning a Charitable Legacy with a Donor-Advised Fund is part of CFSLOCO’s Philanthropic Services. Learn more at

A simple solution for legacy planning: DAFs

A DAF is a charitable giving vehicle that is popular for its ease of use. To establish a DAF, you complete an application and make an irrevocable, tax-deductible contribution to fund the new account. 

This typically involves naming your DAF—possibly using a family name like the Jones Giving Fund or the Jones Family Foundation—and, in most cases, appointing family members or others to serve with you as joint, secondary, or successor advisors. There are no start-up costs other than your initial contribution. 

When you contribute to a DAF, you are making an irrevocable gift to charity, but you and any other individuals you appoint will retain advisory privileges—which include the right to recommend investments within and charitable grants from the DAF. Contributions made during your lifetime, which may include cash, appreciated stock, real estate, or other complex assets, generally receive an immediate income tax deduction for up to the full fair market value of the gift. 

Bequests to a DAF are eligible for an estate tax charitable deduction and may also reduce applicable state inheritance and estate taxes, which together could result in significant tax savings. You may also make your DAF the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, retirement plan or charitable remainder or lead trust. 

For instance, if your DAF is the beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust, you will not be constrained by a limited number of charities identified in the trust document. Instead, the trust’s assets can ultimately go to any charity the advisors of the DAF recommend. This gives you and your heirs the flexibility to meet the world’s changing needs.

Multiple ways to build a charitable legacy

While your DAF can be funded after your lifetime, one benefit of a DAF is the ability to involve your loved ones in giving during your lifetime. You can appoint a spouse or partner as a joint advisor, and name your children as secondary advisors, so that you can make charitable decisions together as a family. 

You can also ensure that future generations can continue a legacy of giving by appointing individual successors to the DAF. Some legacy options include (but are not limited to):

  • Naming a joint advisor to recommend investments and grants now and to assume responsibility of the DAF after your death 
  • Naming one or more individual successors to manage their own DAF account funded with your DAF assets 
  • Naming one or more charitable beneficiaries to receive all remaining DAF assets Establishing an endowment and recommending that assets be distributed over time in annual, recurring gifts to one or more charities 
  • Creating a Legacy Plan involving any combination of the options described above

You can choose the plan that’s right for you now, with the option to change it later. 

A DAF in action: The Hernandez Family Giving Fund

Rose and Frank Hernandez were both in their late 50s and in their peak earning years when they began to think deeply about their charitable legacy. They wanted to find a way to provide lasting support for several small organizations, including one that had helped Frank’s parents when they first immigrated to the U.S. These small organizations were only equipped to receive gifts of cash, which meant that Rose and Frank often sold securities, paid the income taxes on the gains and then made the gift using the cash proceeds. The couple also wanted to involve their daughters, who lived in different cities, in giving. 

Rose and Frank decided to commit $50,000 to charitable giving in the current year, with an eye toward giving more in the future. Their advisor helped them consider two different strategies to achieve the goal:

GIVING TODAY: By setting up a DAF, Rose and Frank could serve as primary and joint advisors, and their daughters could work alongside them as secondary advisors and eventually as individual successors on the account. Rose and Frank also found that they could give more with a DAF, because it allowed them to give appreciated stock and save substantially on taxes. Their DAF offered Rose and Frank a seamless, tax-efficient way to donate stock which could then be liquidated for charitable grantmaking. 

GIVING IN THEIR ESTATE: Although Rose and Frank’s net worth did not exceed the estate tax exemption amount, they had significant assets in traditional retirement accounts. These assets would be subject to income taxes if their daughters inherited them. Retirement assets left to charity, however, avoid estate and income taxation. This prompted Rose and Frank to make their DAF one of the beneficiaries of their retirement plan. Upon their death, the DAF would receive $150,000 of Individual Retirement Account assets, allowing the family to create a $100,000 endowed account to continue grantmaking to Rose and Frank’s favorite causes. At the same time, they could leave each daughter her own $25,000 DAF to continue supporting local organizations.

Advantages of starting your legacy today

Just as Rose and Frank did with their daughters in the example above, many families want to engage the next generation in their giving practice. A DAF can support your efforts to plan for your family’s future of giving, while allowing you to have a charitable impact today. 

By establishing a DAF during your lifetime, you can: 

  • Involve family members in managing the DAF alongside you as joint or secondary advisors, so that you can give together to the causes that are important to you as a family. 
  • Appoint loved ones as individual successors and leave them a giving tool that requires no administrative work—the DAF sponsor oversees compliance, accounting, tax filing and other duties that the staff of a private foundation would otherwise have to do themselves. 
  • Contribute appreciated assets to receive a deduction for the full fair-market value of the gift and avoid paying capital gains taxes on the asset’s built-in gains. 
  • Save on income taxes. With the 2020 estate tax exemption at $11.58 million for individuals and $23.26 million for couples, fewer estates are subject to taxes than in the past. Opening a DAF now allows you to enjoy the benefits of a charitable income tax deduction, and ultimately to have more to give to your favorite causes. 
  • Support your favorite causes now and beyond your lifetime. You can use a DAF to make present-day giving easy, with options for recurring grants and specialized grant agreements. By establishing a Legacy Plan for the DAF, you may also ensure that your favorite nonprofits will be supported even after your death as beneficiaries, either with a lump-sum gift or via annual grants until your DAF assets are depleted. 

If you would like to discuss these or other options, please email our team at or (805) 543-2323. CFSLOCO does not provide legal or tax advice. This brochure is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained herein may vary depending on individual circumstances.

Access for All Advocate: Paul Wolff

Foundation Family Highlight: Paul Wolff

Today, the American Disabilities Act turns 32. This important civil rights law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities within schools, transportation, and all places that are open to the general public.

Across San Luis Obispo County, allies and activists are dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. One of these individuals is Paul Wolff: a local architect and accessibility advocate.

Paul Wolff advocates for an accessible, diverse, and welcoming community that values disability and encourages the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Not to mention, the annual Paul Wolff Accessibility Advocacy Awards (PWAAA) were established in honor of Wolff. These awards are implemented through Access for All, a field of interest fund through The Community Foundation, and honor those who strive to make San Luis Obispo County a barrier-free community.

Paul – Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Cal Poly State University – has an incredible life story. Paul was born in 1929 in Hamburg, Germany to Jewish parents. After his father’s arrest during Kristallnacht in 1938, young Paul and his family fled Nazi occupation to London, England in 1939. Fortunately, as the political climate grew more volatile, they were able to secure a 30-day transatlantic crossing and landed in San Francisco on August 1, 1939 – only 30 days before the start of WWII in Europe.

In the 1950s, Paul was drafted into the US Army and served in Europe. After his service, the GI Bill of Rights enabled him to enroll in the graduate program of architectural studies at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. After graduation, he began his architecture career working with renowned architect Richard J. Neutra in Los Angeles and later started his own architecture practice in Palo Alto. In 1971, Paul began teaching Architecture at Cal Poly State University. It was during this time at Cal Poly that he began to recognize the need for accessibility in architectural design, partly due to the effects of his sister’s advancing MS diagnosis.

After earning his master’s degree in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey in Guilford, England, Paul returned to Cal Poly where he introduced Environmental Psychology and Universal Design into the School of Architecture’s curriculum. In July of 1990, architectural accessibility finally became a national requirement as the American Disability Act (ADA) was passed into law. After 23 years at Cal Poly, Paul retired to focus on community involvement. He and his wife Marion, who escaped from Vienna as part of the Kindertransport, continue to talk to students and groups sharing the stories of escapes from Nazi Germany and exploring the impact of the current violence we see in our society today and its relationship to the evils of prejudices and discrimination. Paul worked with local activists to start Access for All, which promotes accessibility, supports advocacy work, and provides connection through The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. He currently serves on the Access for All advisory committee.

We are extremely grateful to know and work closely with Paul – he is an inspiration to us all. Read his own account of this incredible story, which we are honored to share with you.

“Today there is so much for which to be grateful. Since I have been allowed to survive for 92.5 years, there is so much to recall. I started long, long ago, so far distant, in a radically different universe, within a far different culture and language.

The first 9 family years in Hamburg, Germany, ended abruptly on the infamous Kristalnacht, 11/9/1938, as the Gestapo invaded our house to arrest my father despite his 4 years as a wounded/decorated army captain fighting for Germany in WWI . Yet, not until many years later in SF, did I fully comprehend the politics of the times.

These were events that must never be forgotten! Towards that end, Marion and I devoted much time in our later years to sharing both of our Holocaust experiences with high school and university students in Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, as well as locally. Marion’s exodus at 8, from Vienna, via the Kindertransport was always of great interest to our audiences. Today, I gladly continue to talk to students and local groups about learning from our recent destructive history and its relationship to the evils of current prejudices and discrimination.

We were among the fortunate few. Six months after Kristallnacht we were able to reassemble our small family in London and board the Hamburg-American freighter SS Dynteldyke for the 30-day Atlantic crossing to SF.

The subsequent 9 years were filled with growth and challenge from school, sports, and a variety of jobs in San Francisco. New freedoms and responsibilities emerged as I advanced to UC Berkeley, Yosemite, Livermore, and Texas, Missouri, and Germany courtesy of the US Army.

My 1953 rejection from OCS (Officers Candidate School) actually worked to my benefit. Subsequently, being drafted into the US army led to my assignment as the operator of a 20-ton crane in a chaotic divided post-war Germany. That year – 1954 – gave me the exciting opportunity to explore Hamburg, Mainz, Paris, Stromboli, Sweden, Finland, and London.

Upon my discharge from the US army, the GI Bill of Rights allowed me to enroll in stimulating graduate architecture studies at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Thereafter, I obtained passage home on the USS Langfitt by teaching and counseling some 400 Hungarians seeking refuge in the USA.

[I] spent the following 3 years living and working with renowned Architect Richard J. Neutra in his LA studio. By 30, in 1960, I found and wed a young German visitor from London, Marion Pollak. Three precious children followed: Karen, 1962, Linda, 1964, Charles, 1966.

During the following 10 years as I started my architectural practice in Palo Alto, I became increasingly aware of my sister Eva’s advancing disability due to her MS. I also noted that the CA building code tended to ignore accessibility issues. In 1970 the emerging Department of Architecture at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo was expanding… and I applied.

By September 1971, we had sold our remodeled Eichler home in Palo Alto and moved to SLO as I started teaching my first classes. Two years later I had to decide my future. To advance at the University would require a Masters Degree.

Due to the strong influence of Neutra’s humanistic architecture and my access concerns, I chose to pursue a Master’s program in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey in Guilford, England. This allowed Marion to support the 5 of us by working as a secretary at the University.

Upon my return to teaching, I introduced Environmental Psychology and Universal Design, creating a more inclusive environment (including people with disabilities) into the architectural curriculum. National interest in the rights of all people to have equal access to our environment was increasing, which led me to work with many local activists to start Access for All in SLO County.

In July of 1990, architectural accessibility finally became a national requirement as the American Disability Act (ADA) became the law of the land. After 23 years at Cal Poly, I retired in order to do more consulting and designing, returning to my home-based architectural practice. Community involvement plus travel to fascinating places further enriched these memorable years.” – Paul Wolff

Access for All Advisory Committee

Consider making a donation to Access for All by clicking HERE.

Wathen Castanos Homes Fund and Partnership

In 2019, The Community Foundation was approached by Joshua Peterson, President of Wathen Castanos Homes, seeking to create a novel partnership while they were in the early stages of a development in South Morros. Knowing that The Foundation and Wathen Castanos Homes shared the goal of ‘building community through relationships’ and by fostering the idea that neighbors help each other, Wathen Castanos and The Community Foundation joined forces; in 2020, the Wathen Castanos Homes Fund was officially established.  

The Partnership in Action

A portion of each sale price of every home built by Wathen Castanos is contributed to a Donor Advised Fund within The Community Foundation. From there, grants are then awarded to local organizations that offer programs to improve the lives of those who live in the community. Grants may support a variety of needs including arts and culture, education, parks and trails, recreation, wildlife rescue, women,  youth, as well as those that benefit the homeless. Through their homes and grantmaking, Wathen Castanos is giving back to the future of the community that they are literally building!

In July 2021, the first Wathen Castanos Fund grant was awarded to Operation Surf, which uses curriculum-based programs to inspire injured veterans to seek mental and physical wellness by providing resources, tools, and peer-to-peer support. Using the healing powers of the ocean and their core values of care, inclusion, commitment, integrity, and communication, they help to change participants’ lives – one wave at a time. Participants have experienced a marked decrease in PTSD and depression symptoms. One week and six-month programs are offered in coastal communities, in addition to ongoing virtual support and community. Through the grant, Wathen Castanos has given back to the veterans who have given so much in service  to our country.

By serving as a catalyst to help others and connecting those who want to help with those who need help, Wathen Castanos Homes and the Foundation have teamed up to serve San Luis Obispo County and build a better future. 


Martha’s Place: Supporting Child Safety in SLO County

One in ten children suffers from child abuse, and since there are 50,000 children living in San Luis Obispo County, there are roughly 5,000 children in SLO County who might be struggling from child abuse and a lack in safety. Programs that promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families are crucial to the security of our community. 

The Center for Family Strengthening strives to make positive systemic changes in the lives of families, understanding stronger families will bring up kids who are healthier and more resilient.

Bob and Pat Barlow understood how important early intervention is for children at risk for behavioral and mental health issues and their families, so in 2021 they set out to support a local children’s assessment center. The James Robert (Bob) and Patricia Barlow Fund for Strong Families and Communities – held at The Community Foundation –  awarded Martha’s Place Children’s Center with a grant through the Center for Family Strengthening in order to help strengthen families, prevent child abuse, and provide essential resources to support families in need within our community. Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment and Treatment Center allows children in SLO County to reach their full potential, to be loved, to be emotionally well developed and to enter school ready and able to learn. They give the most vulnerable young children a voice and a safe, stable environment in which to thrive. 

How do they do it?

Martha’s Place offers expert, multidisciplinary assessment of infants and young children who exhibit extreme behavioral concerns, developmental delays, and known prenatal substance exposure. Case Managers and Family Advocates guide families through the stressful process of accessing appropriate services, linking them to other recommended services, and providing additional information and support and generally navigate the complex mental and behavioral health systems. By working with the family and partnering with family support organizations throughout SLO County, they help families in need access appropriate services for their child, protect children from abuse, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. 

The Community Foundation is proud to serve as the connector between the James Robert (Bob) and Patricia Barlow Fund for Strong Families and Communities and Martha’s Place as they strive to make SLO County safe for all children. 

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Heidi H. McPherson Chief Executive Officer (805) 543-2323