Fourteen years after the first $800 deposit established the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation, the organization has reached a milestone with $20 million worth of grants disbursed.
The foundation helps donors accomplish their philanthropic goals by managing and distributing their contributions to nonprofit organizations.
It has assets of approximately $39 million, said Barry VanderKelen, executive director.
VanderKelen added that — for the county being a relatively small community, and compared with other community foundations that started around the same time — it is rare to reach such a milestone so quickly.
The approximately $2.31 million in grants that helped the Community Foundation reach $20 million was donated by the late Burt W. and Virginia Polin, who left a portion of their estate to the foundation.
Burt Polin, who was born in San Luis Obispo County, was a real estate broker and investor who died in 2006. Virginia Polin was active in numerous community organizations, and was passionate about music and the arts. She died in 2010.
“We are honoring the very strong legacy that the Polins have left in the community that meant so much to them,” Vander-Kelen said.
Thirteen nonprofit received funds at a June 21 ceremony: Cal Poly Foundation, Cuesta College Foundation, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, San Luis Obispo Symphony, San Luis Obispo Farm Bureau, Woods Humane Society, Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo, Achievement House, French Hospital Medical Center, Salvation Army, Hospice of San Luis Obispo County, Community Counseling Center and American Red Cross San Luis Obispo County Chapter.
Of the Polins’ donation, $1.2 million will support capital improvements to the agriculture and music schools at Cal Poly, as well as scholarships.