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What are community foundations?

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Many people are unfamiliar with the Community Foundations of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point, but according to the heads of the foundations, most residents have been touched by the work they do.

So what are the community foundations?

“It’s a question we're asked all the time, and it's a confusing answer,” said Walker Sanders, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. “The simplest way to answer is we help people give and we help communities grow.”

Some donors specify where they want their money to go, others leave that decision up to the individual foundation’s board of directors.

“The gifts range from multi-million dollar gifts, to $50 gifts and they`re all important,” said Paul Lessard, president of the High Point Community Foundation. “What we try to instill in our donors is that everyone can be a philanthropist. It's not so much how much money you have, it’s what you do with it.”

Community foundations touch just about every aspect of a community through grants, including the arts, education, poverty and health. But their work is done behind the scenes.

“The foundation is never the story,” Scott Wierman, president of the Winston-Salem Foundation said. “We're just the conduit that connects people who want to make a positive impact on the community with the folks on the frontlines doing the heavy lifting, whether that's the soup kitchen, a teacher in a classroom or someone delivering meals on wheels.”

Some other notable projects foundation grants made possible include the Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts in Greensboro and Say Yes to Education in Guilford County.

“One of the unique things about the community foundations is that we evolve as the community evolves,” Sanders said. “And as new issues arise, a Community Foundation is poised to address them.”

Click any of the following links to learn more about the foundations, or to get involved: