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Foundation to boost charities

November 19, 1997

Foundation to boost charities

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Washington County charities have a new source to turn to for funding, even when the economy is bad and contributions dry up, local leaders were told Tuesday.

The Community Foundation of Washington County, unveiled at a meeting at Frostburg State University's Hagerstown Center, will support local nonprofit organizations while building a reserve for the community's future needs, said Merle S. Elliott, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees.

Modeled after similar community foundations around the country - such as the Community Foundation of Frederick County, Md. - the foundation will use earnings from contributions to make grants to local educational, arts, environmental, health and social service organizations, Elliott said.

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The new foundation has nearly $100,000 in invested assets, he said.

Local nonprofit organizations will start getting grants once the endowment reaches $500,000, Elliott said.

Started in 1986, Frederick County's foundation had grown to more than $8 million in assets and given over $1 million back to the community as of last year, said administrative assistant Dana Lough.

The Washington County foundation was formed last year by local business and civic leaders, but organizers wanted to take care of administrative details, like adopting bylaws and gaining tax-exempt status, before going public, Elliott said.

"As of today, we're in business, we're organized and we're ready to do what community foundations do," he said.

What community foundations do is solicit contributions, and put them in new or existing funds that can be professionally managed together more efficiently and for a potentially greater yield than if they were invested separately, Elliott said.

Tax-deductible contributions can take many forms, including cash, securities, real estate, life insurance, gift annuities, bequests and transfers from an existing foundation or trust, he said.

Funds can be completely unrestricted, guided annually by the donor's wishes or predesignated for a specific purpose, Elliott said.

Contributions and part of the earnings won't be touched, allowing the foundation's endowment to continue growing and generating more earnings, he said.

For more information, call Executive Director Robert T. Kenney at 301-791-4932.

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