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Sunday January 23rd, 2022 9:26AM

For Goodness Sake: North Georgia Community Foundation

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

For Good. For Ever.

The motto of the North Georgia Community Foundation embodies its commitment to better the community- both since the foundation was created in 1985 and for years to come.

The primary purpose of the North Georgia Community Foundation is to help individuals and organizations meet their philanthropic goals, explained Michelle Prater, president and CEO.

"The North Georgia Community Foundation works with individuals, families, corporations [and] nonprofits and helps them invest their charitable dollars so that they can make a great impact in our community," said Prater.

There are a couple of ways that the foundation can help individuals and organizations meet these goals. Donors can create a charitable fund through the foundation and direct their money to a certain nonprofit or a general cause.

"If an individual or a family or a business wants to create a charitable fund, where they can grant out money and give all of their charitable giving and simplify their taxes, it's a great way for them to partner with us and we facilitate all of that for them," said Prater.

Fundholders can also create a scholarship with the money they contribute. The foundation awarded 217 scholarships for its 2021 cycle.

Donors can also contribute to the community fund. This fund is owned by the foundation and five percent of the total fund is distributed each year through the foundation’s three grant programs. 

One of these grant programs is the community grant program. Each year local nonprofits apply for a grant from this fund. 

"We have a great committee of community volunteers who serve on our board that make those selections," said Prater. "This year we gave out 39 community grants that total about $485,000."

The other two grant programs funded by the community fund are opportunity grants and discretionary grants. Opportunity grants are awarded to what Prater called "seed programs", or programs just getting started. Discretionary grants are awarded to nonprofits with emergency needs.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the foundation jumped into action by using money from the community fund to assist nonprofits financially. As of April of this year, the foundation has awarded more than $1.3 million to local nonprofits through 15 COVID-19 grant cycles.

"It gives me great pride to be able to be a part of this community that comes together to help people the way that we have all worked together to do," said Prater. "To me, the COVID work that we've done just reaffirms and truly supports what our mission is."

Aside from awarding grants, the North Georgia Community Foundation assists nonprofits by providing office space at an affordable rate inside the foundation's building on Oak Street. The foundation also offers the GROW program, which stands for Growing Roots of Wisdom. This program provides professional development to nonprofit leaders at an affordable rate.

The foundation has grown exponentially over time; Prater said the foundation's assets have more than doubled since she started in 2015.

"When I started here about six years ago, the foundation was about $42 million in assets, which was about 250 funds," said Prater. "Today we sit at about $120 million in assets with over 500 funds...that gives us a great opportunity to work with so many people to really help them achieve their philanthropic goals."

More about the community foundation on is at ngcf.org.

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  • Associated Tags: North Georgia Community Foundation, NGCF, For Goodness Sake
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