History of Community Foundations

The first community foundation originated in 1914. It was the brainchild of Cleveland, Ohio lawyer, Frederick Harris Goff, who was concerned about philanthropic gifts which had outlived their original purposes, e.g. individuals who had left money in wills for diseases which had been cured. His idea was to develop charitable endowments that would be flexible enough to respond to changing community needs.

The first Canadian community foundation was established in Winnipeg in 1921. It has since accumulated an endowment fund worth more than $725 million and has to date, distributed more than $395 million in grants to the Winnipeg area.

More than 70 years ago, a secretary in Vancouver wanted to do something for her community. When she gave $1,000 to start an endowment fund, a prominent industrialist was so impressed that he donated $10,000 and was able to attract additional matching grants from friends. With over $1 billion, the Vancouver Foundation is now one of the largest foundations in Canada, awarding grants totaling more than $50 million each year.

The Community Foundation for Kingston & Area was established in 1995 with $65,000 in endowment funds. Since then, we have grown to over $21 million in assets and have granted more than $11.7 million.  As our endowment funds continue to grow, we will increase how much we grant locally in our community each year.

Community Foundation for Kingston & Area