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 https://www.jackshelpinghand.org/

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. 

Welcome New Board Members

The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is proud to welcome two new members to its Board of Directors. Rick Williams and Rob Garcia both have extensive experience giving back to the community and serving on nonprofit boards.

Rick Williams

Rick Williams is the former CEO of the Sobrato Family Foundation and the founder and President of Realize Consulting Group. Rick also previously served as the Director of the Asset Funders Network and the National Programs Director of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation. Additionally, Rick previously served as the Deputy Director of the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department and as an executive in several nonprofit organizations. 

Rick has served on many nonprofit boards and is currently the Vice Chair of Third Sector Capital Partners.  He also serves as a board member of the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County and Pivotal, the largest foster youth-serving organization in Silicon Valley.  Previously, Rick served as the Board Chair of Archbishop Mitty High School, and as a Board Member of Northern California Grantmakers, the National Council of Family Philanthropy, Fresh Lifelines for Youth, Silicon Valley Law Foundation, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. 

Rick holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University and Washington State University. He resides on the Central Coast of California with his wife of 36 years, Barb. He has a daughter who is working and living in Pittsburg and a son who is working and living in Silicon Valley.

Rob Garcia

Rob is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and has earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® professional designation from Fiduciary 360, receiving formal training in investment fiduciary responsibility. He also obtained a Certificate in Financial Planning from Boston University and holds FINRA Series 65 certification.

Rob graduated cum laude from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 1997 with a degree in Business Administration concentrating in Financial Management. Rob believes in giving back to the
community. He currently serves on the Cuesta College Foundation Board as well as their Finance Committee, the French Hospital Medical Center Foundation Finance Committee, and on the Board of Directors for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, CAPSLO. As a veteran, he has been a member of the American Legion Post 66 for
over 20 years.

Rob lives in Templeton, with his beautiful wife, Deb, his two sons, Brandon and Jakeb, and their golden-doodle, Jack. The Garcia family is often found on the tennis court, as all four enjoy the game, or headed out for a camping trip.

We thank outgoing Board members Mary Verdin and Jim Brabeck for their decade of service.

Jeff and Joan Buckingham of The Buckingham Family Charitable Fund

Jeff and Joan Buckingham have made SLO County their home and serve the community in a variety of meaningful ways that make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. When Jeff Buckingham was a kid, he always dreamed of being a dairy farmer.  Luckily for him, Jeff found an enthusiastic partner in Joan and discovered that running a business and running a farm require the same traits of patience and stamina, knowing the landscape and helping others find their way. 

Jeff and Joan show their dedication to the community through random acts of kindness and direct involvement in community programs, projects, charitable contributions, and volunteering – including Jeff’s two-year term as president of The Community Foundation Board and his continued service as a Board member.  

Video courtesy of AMF Media Group SLO

The heart of the Buckingham’s commitment to serving those around them can be seen and felt in part of the family’s mission statement, “We are an inexhaustible source of contribution to our community and to our world.” With the Buckingham Family Charitable Fund, “we can look at our donations on an annual basis to make sure that our values match up with the donations.”

Jeff and Joan established The Buckingham Family Charitable Fund in 2021. As Jeff shared, “We decided to do this because we can take advantage of a larger charitable deduction by combining all of our giving over several years into a donor-advised fund.” As a member of the Board of The Community Foundation, having their own fund is also a way to learn more about the experience of Foundation donors. 

Jeff and Joan have two grown children and live off the grid on a ranch near Los Osos with an assortment of cows, dogs, cats, chickens, and many wild creatures.

5 Ways to Support Nonprofits

5 Ways to Support Nonprofits

The pandemic has been difficult on all organizations whether it be higher demand for services or having to close their doors. Over the past couple of years The Community Foundation has been asked by both donors and nonprofit leaders to share tips on how to support their favorite organizations. Below are following are five evergreen options for supporting nonprofits compiled by our very own Cassandra Wagner Kartashov, Director of Grants and Programs here at The Community Foundation.


1 Unrestricted Gifts 

Did you know that before the pandemic only 20% of funding for nonprofits in the United States had any degree of flexibility? Unrestricted gifts provide nonprofits with the ability to adapt to changing needs which has been more important than ever during the pandemic and will continue to be a need moving forward.

““…what we learned from the disaster was to trust the nonprofits to judge where they need to spend the funding” – Grantmaking Committee Member

2 Volunteer

Volunteerism is a tremendous resource as many nonprofits would not be able to conduct programs, raise funds or serve clients. Volunteering can also have positive impact on the volunteers mental health. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact your favorite nonprofit or check out Volunteer SLO for opportunities.

3 Give Grace

Nonprofits are usually understaffed even in the best of times. “The Great Resignation” has had a huge impact on local organizations. This may mean that your gift acknowledgement may not arrive in a timely manner or that the email you sent over a week ago has not been responded to. I recently heard from a beloved nonprofit leader that one of her donors decided to not make contributions to the organization any more after a new staff member failed to “properly greet” the donor. During these difficult times please remember to give a little extra grace.

4 Boost Morale

These past couple of years have been difficult on everyone. Our Board recently started provided treats for staff on multiple occasions which had a huge impact on staff morale and productivity. You’d be amazed by what a box of cupcakes can do to lift spirits.

5 Appreciation

I recently spoke with a nonprofit CEO who shared that she has one donor that writes a letter of appreciation with each gift they make to the organization. She shares the thank-you card with staff and then keeps them in a little box for days when she needs a pick-me-up. Letters of encouragement and thanks are validation of their hard work.

Donating to a charity using a qualified charitable distribution (QCD)

Note: The Community Foundation would like to thank Wayne Lewis, of Lewis Financial for providing the following article from the Fidelity Learning Center.

If you are looking to make a non-deductible donation to charity, you may want to consider a Qualified Charitable Distribution, or QCD.

If you are age 72 or older, IRS rules require you to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year from your tax-deferred retirement accounts.

A QCD is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA, payable directly to a qualified charity, as described in the QCD provision in the Internal Revenue Code. Amounts distributed as a QCD can be counted toward satisfying your RMD for the year, up to $100,000. The QCD is excluded from your taxable income. This is not the case with a regular withdrawal from an IRA, even if you use the money to make a charitable contribution later on. If you take a withdrawal, the funds would be counted as taxable income even if you later offset that income with the charitable contribution deduction.

Why is this distinction important? If you take the RMD as income, instead of as a QCD, your RMD will count as taxable income. This additional taxable income may push you into a higher tax bracket and may also reduce your eligibility for certain tax credits and deductions. To eliminate or reduce the impact of RMD income, charitably inclined investors may want to consider making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). 

For example, your taxable income helps determine the amount of your Social Security benefits that are subject to taxes. Keeping your taxable income level lower may also help reduce your potential exposure to the Medicare surtax.

Am I eligible for QCDs?

In prior years, the rules that permitted QCDs required reauthorization from Congress each year, and those decisions were sometimes made late in the calendar year. With passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, the QCD provision is now a permanent part of the Internal Revenue Code. This means you can plan your charitable giving and begin reviewing your tax situation earlier each year.

Tip: With the 2020 tax law changes, there’s 1 additional factor to consider: you may take advantage of the higher standard deduction ($12,400 for single filers, $24,800 if married and filing jointly). This means that if you claim the standard deduction, you won’t be allowed to itemize things like charitable donations. However, since QCDs are not includable in income, the QCD is also not deductible. As such, the QCD can remain an option for your charitable giving, even if you claim the standard deduction in a given year.

The rules of QCDs

A QCD must adhere to the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 70½ years old at the time you request a QCD. If you process a distribution prior to reaching age 70½, the distribution will be treated as taxable income.
  • For a QCD to count toward your current year’s RMD, the funds must come out of your IRA by your RMD deadline, which is generally December 31 each year.
  • Funds must be transferred directly from your IRA custodian to the qualified charity. This is accomplished by requesting your IRA custodian issue a check from your IRA payable to the charity. You can then request that the check be mailed to the charity or forward the check directly to the charity yourself.

    Note: If a distribution check is made payable to you, the distribution would NOT qualify as a QCD and would be treated as taxable income.
  • The maximum annual distribution amount that can qualify for a QCD is $100,000. This limit would apply to the sum of QCDs made to one or more charities in a calendar year. If you’re a joint tax filer, both you and your spouse can make a $100,000 QCD from your own IRAs.
  • The account types that are eligible for QCDs include: 
    • Traditional IRAs
    • Inherited IRAs
    • SEP IRA (inactive plans only*)
    • SIMPLE IRA (inactive plans only*)
  • Under certain circumstances, QCDs may be made from a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs are not subject to RMDs during your lifetime, and distributions are generally tax-free. Consult a tax advisor to determine if making a QCD from a Roth is appropriate for your situation.
  • Certain charities are not eligible to receive QCDs, including donor-advised funds, private foundations, and supporting organizations. You are not allowed to receive any benefit in return for your charitable donation. For example, if your donation covers your cost of playing in a charitable golf tournament, your gift would not qualify as a QCD.

    NOTE: Though a QCD may not be placed directly into your donor-advised fund, The Community Foundation can still accept the QCD, place it in a holding fund, and distribute qualified grants based on your recommendations. 
  • Contributing to an IRA may result in a reduction of the QCD amount you can deduct.*

Tax filing for QCDs

A QCD is reported by your IRA custodian as a normal distribution on IRS Form 1099-R for any non-Inherited IRAs. For Inherited IRAs or Inherited Roth IRAs, the QCD will be reported as a death distribution. You should keep an acknowledgement of the donation from the charity for your tax records. Please consult a tax advisor to learn more.

For a better understanding of how QCDs can affect your taxable income, let’s consider a few hypothetical scenarios. Phil has been taking RMDs for the past few years, but this year he has decided to make a QCD. Phil did not make any non-deductible contributions to his IRA, so all of his distributions would be taxable:

If you are 72, own an IRA, and donate to charity, QCDs may make sense for you; consult a tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

Giving Back to the Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Bob and Pat Barlow loved living in San Luis Obispo County. Though they faced many misfortunes that kept many of their dreams from being realized, through hard work and frugality, they were able to save enough to live comfortably and to create a legacy that survives them. Many conversations with trusted advisors and close friends facilitated the planning needed to have a positive  impact on the causes they cared about. 

Pat was a child of the Depression.  She was born in San Luis Obispo in 1928 into a family with no means. Her dream was to be the perfect wife, mother, and homemaker. Though at the time of her passing, she had no family close by, she did have wonderful friends and neighbors. One such person was the daughter of her close neighbors. They stayed close for decades as the daughter cared for her parents through their own decline.  A deep mutual admiration formed. When the neighbors’ daughter was in her twenties, the Barlows asked her to be an “executor of last resort” and she agreed. Besides, what were the odds that all of those ahead on the list would be gone by the time she was needed?

By 2015, it became clear that Pat’s decades of planning paid off. The Executor helped Pat find a fiduciary in SLO to serve as backup, a trusted financial advisor protected her and her assets, and her longtime estate attorney made small revisions to refine her last wishes. While The Community Foundation was always a beneficiary, Pat realized that rather than supporting large national organizations, she could create a more personally meaningful impact by supporting local agencies addressing issues that concerned her, rather than contributing to large national organizations. She wanted to help people in the place she loved, especially those who faced some of the same challenges. 

Pat and her Executor were attracted to the variety of options offered by The Community Foundation. They appreciated that a trusted local partner would evaluate the recipients and present the best choices based on local need and Pat’s intentions. Bob and Pat would be happy to know that the fruits of their hard work are making a difference in their community. And the Executor feels deeply honored to serve as a link between Bob and Pat and the programs being supported. Having known Pat for more than 50 years, it was an emotional moment when she was able to see the Barlows’ values given new life.

As the Executor shared, “The flexibility is tremendous, the fee structure is reasonable,  and the personalization and care with which [The Community Foundation] continues to engage with me, makes this a wonderful relationship, not just a transaction.”

A Passion for Music: Clif and Jane Swanson

Clif and Jane Swanson have been integral members of the arts community in San Luis Obispo since 1967.  They met as music majors at Pomona College and moved to SLO when Clif became a professor in the music department at Cal Poly. After 57 years of marriage, they are still making beautiful music together to the benefit of all of SLO County. 

At Cal Poly, Clif was chair of the music department for 19 years, taught Music History, Music Appreciation, Conducting and has generally served as a force for music here in SLO. He served as conductor of the SLO Symphony for 13 years and was a founder of the Mozart Festival, which is now known as Festival Mozaic. He was involved in the design of the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly, involved in the decisions regarding acoustics and recording, and influential in bringing a world class pipe organ to the project. He has also been involved in the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale as President of the Board of Directors. Since his “retirement,” Clif has remained involved with many arts organizations when not busy with woodworking and DIY projects around their home.

After moving to SLO, Jane became involved in bringing awareness to environmental causes. She also taught in elementary schools for over 20 years, and was a performing musician for more than 58 years, playing the French Horn in most local orchestras, sometimes under Clif’s baton. She continues to teach private lessons to students of the horn to this very day.

Together Clif and Jane raised two children and today enjoy seven grandchildren ranging in ages from 10 to 26.

Clif and Jane were brought to The Community Foundation by a local estate attorney and close friend who shared many mutual interests, including sitting on the Boards of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center and Mozart Festival. Because of their unique inside view of the needs of nonprofit performing arts organizations, Clif and Jane were looking for a vehicle to make charitable distributions from their estate. They set up a Testamentary Fund in 2005 to receive a contribution from their estate that will continue their support for local music performances. In 2020, the Swanson’s also opened a Donor Advised Fund to facilitate larger gifts beyond their regular charitable contributions, for specific needs that may arise while they are alive.  

Through their charitable funds, Clif and Jane Swanson are able to continue their legacy of support, both today and in the future, for the lifelong passion for music that first brought them together.

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