It’s been 40 years since Buddy Amos, James Burns, Jim Click Jr., Edward Moore and Granger Weil founded the Greater Tucson Area Foundation, later renamed the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. Since then, Tucson’s generous spirit and the foundation’s commitment to community impact have only grown.
Over the last four decades, the foundation has supported Southern Arizona with $200 million in grants and scholarships, stewarding the philanthropic legacy of our community’s generous donors and increasing the breadth and depth of resources available to nonprofit organizations in our region. The impact we make is a collective one, with funds being held by individuals, families and businesses with unique interests, ideas and passions to make our region a better place.
Our work is guided by our commitment to building community inclusion, community connections, and community capacity. We recognize the privilege we hold in executing this work, and we are honored to be able to spend our days improving lives in our community. Like Southern Arizona itself, our funds are diverse, with our collective work touching every aspect of daily life, including animal welfare, arts and culture, community development, education, environment, health and human services and so much more.
The thread that binds this diversity together is our belief that by building stronger people and a stronger community, we are building a stronger city, region, and state. By investing in our people and their well-being, we are providing them with the tools they will need to live happy, healthy and fruitful lives. Ultimately, the success of our community is a common good, and at the foundation we work to benefit this multifaceted reality.
Commitment to Community Inclusion
Through the foundation’s programs and initiatives, we are bringing together diverse voices to build a vibrant and equitable community for all Southern Arizonans. As an honest broker, the foundation is working to unite professionals, local businesses, policymakers, educators and others working for change. We believe that the inclusion of diverse community voices encourages authentic dialogue about what the community needs and foments sustainable grassroot-level leadership and advocacy in Southern Arizona.
With a clearly defined purpose of strengthening the Latino community and transforming lives by working for racial equity and social justice, the Latino Community Fund seeks to inspire action through precise giving guidelines, including giving focused on organizations guided by Latino voices. As the founder of the community fund, I believe that the philanthropic process should complement the philanthropic purpose, and the Latino community has the inherent knowledge and strength to create real, positive, and lasting change.
Since its creation,we’ve funded the Casa Alitas Program, that serves migrant families and pregnant women who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty and the Colores Unidos Initiative, which aims to reduce new HIV infections by reducing language, socioeconomic, and stigmatization barriers in rural Arizona communities.
The African American Legacy Fund is a growing, community-led initiative of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. Founded by esteemed educator Dr. Anna Jolivet, AALF has a simple goal - direct dollars and foster collaboration among organizations and individuals serving the most pressing needs of the African American and greater Tucson community.
Led by a board of community leaders, the vision for the legacy fund is to become the forum for the community to collaborate, prioritize its needs and aspirations, and improve the quality of life of everyone living in metropolitan Tucson. Recognizing the importance of collaboration in addressing complex needs, the fund requires grant applicants to partner with at least one other organization. To date, the fund has awarded over $110,000 to organizations providing innovative, collaborative programs for African America youth.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Alliance Fund seeks to foster charitable giving in support of innovative programs and initiatives that benefit the LGBTQ+ community in Southern Arizona. The Alliance Fund addresses the chronic pattern of underfunding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer programs and supports efforts to address these issues through annual grantmaking and endowment building. The Alliance Fund has granted $873,397 to over 65 nonprofit organizations in Southern Arizona working to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in our community.
Commitment to Community Connections
At the foundation, we believe that our community can achieve more by working together than alone. Throughout its history, the foundation has consistently worked to build community connections and resources by providing opportunities and systems for people to come together, learn from each other, and make a difference – today and in the future. We have heard from many individuals over the last few months that the Community Foundation Campus, which opened its doors in January 2019, is a physical embodiment of those connections.
In its first year, the campus hosted hundreds of educational workshops, community meetings, national speakers, peer roundtable gatherings, and special events, along with countless opportunities for nonprofit networking and collaboration. In addition to hosting events and trainings, the campus is the only nonprofit co-working space in Southern Arizona and offers unique benefits to its tenants. There are currently 18 charitable organizations – of widely different sizes, models and missions—working and learning side-by-side at the campus.
In addition, over 250 community members have participated in our nonprofit social events on campus. These occasions are intentionally “agenda-less” to give nonprofit professionals time to network and build relationships with their peers. The campus hosts nonprofit social events quarterly, providing a space where the nonprofit community can connect more deeply and build the foundation for future collaborative work.
Commitment to Community Capacity
As the foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary, we remain committed to increasing the availability of general operating support and other organizational development resources available to nonprofit organizations in Southern Arizona. To maximize the return of every philanthropic dollar invested in our community, CFSA has implemented two new programs in the last year—our Catchafire Membership Grants and the foundation’s Center for Healthy Nonprofits.
To provide nonprofits with additional support and resources, the foundation established a new partnership in 2019 with Catchafire, a certified B-Corp that connects professionally skilled volunteers nationwide with nonprofits to improve their infrastructure and increase their organizational capacity. Last fall, 100 Southern Arizona nonprofits received a Catchafire membership grant from the foundation which gives them unlimited assistance with 120 types of capacity-building projects, ranging from quick graphic design projects to leadership coaching and even strategic planning.
Recognizing that nonprofit organizations need to keep up with best practices and offer their workforce continued skill-development and support, the foundation introduced the Center for Healthy Nonprofits in January 2020. The center works to strengthen the Southern Arizona nonprofit community by offering free and reduced cost capacity-building workshops and training. Built upon the foundation in-depth knowledge of the nonprofit community, the center helps nonprofit professionals and volunteers improve their ability to manage, govern, and grow their charitable organizations.
As the foundation reflects on the power that it continues to build in the community, we recognize that there is still much work to be done and we look forward to the next forty years. Our deepest gratitude goes to the community for its continued and growing support. In the words of Toni Morrison, “As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
Claudia Jasso currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and is a featured speaker on topics of leadership and philanthropy in Arizona, nationally in the US, and transnationally.