Our History

Early visionaries and leaders from throughout San Luis Obispo County felt driven by the recognition of the need for everlasting support for the community. In developing this support, they explored a breadth of perspectives from their internal experiences and their external efforts to understand structures found in other regions. From this exploration, and guided by the values that drew them together, they were led to the structure of an endowed fund.

Through endowment, these early leaders transformed the originally raised funds into the assets under management that now support the work of today’s Community Foundation. Early on, the endowment structure was recognized as critical component in supporting not only the needs they saw at the time, but in assuring there would be support for the needs of the future.

Initial efforts focused on safety net programs within San Luis Obispo County; however, as The Community Foundation grew so too did the impact areas. In 2000, the grants program was launched to formalize and strategize the process of assigning funding throughout the region.

In 2018, The Community Foundation celebrated 20 years as a philanthropic leader serving San Luis Obispo County. Today, the same values that motivated the initial efforts to form the organization still inspire the work of The Community Foundation. Striving to be a philanthropic leader that inspires transformational impact in all areas of San Luis Obispo County, we are proud of the work we do to touch individual lives and make a difference throughout the region.

What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is created by and for the people in a local area. It enables those with philanthropic interests to easily and effectively support the issues they see. Donors can establish charitable funds at The Community Foundation by contributing a variety of assets and may also recommend grants — in their name, if they choose — to nonprofit groups and causes they want to support.

Through promoting philanthropy that is visionary, diverse and inclusive, community foundations like ours have become catalysts for improvement. They are one of the fastest growing sectors of philanthropy in the United States today.

Community foundations offer donors many services and benefits. At The Community Foundation, we routinely work with families, individuals, estate and financial planners and attorneys to design gift plans that fit every economic situation, ensuring that donors in San Luis Obispo County are able to make the greatest impact through their charitable contributions.

The Community Foundation serves donors, nonprofit organizations, students and the local community as a whole. One of our special functions is to evaluate and coordinate the needs and services in our community, allowing charitable gifts to be used effectively to fulfill a San Luis Obispo County’s most critical needs.

Learn how your Community Foundation has made an impact in a variety of ways across San Luis Obispo County by reading our Foundation Profiles series.

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