The newest decade has brought with it unforeseen challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, environmental crises, and more. 

But just because something is a challenge doesn’t mean that it’s insurmountable. Centre Foundation is facing the decade’s new challenges head-on to reach solutions with inspirational board members like Kate Bennett Truitt and Lydia Abdullah, forward-thinking donors like Hugh and Janyce Mose, and a staff who is passionate for bringing the best to the Centre County community.

When the pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders that limited connection and face-to-face interaction, Centre County came together to support their neighbors and help keep their local nonprofits’ doors open. The community’s generosity was most evident in the resounding success of the 10th annual Centre Gives in 2021.

The 2021 event raised a record-breaking $2,237,406 in 36 hours. Centre Foundation witnessed, first-hand, a groundswell of support for organizations that care for vulnerable populations, provide essential health and human services, create a vibrant community through the arts, and more. Over 190 local organizations benefited from this outpouring of support.

The momentum created by the success of Centre Gives amidst the pandemic set a new baseline for giving in the region. This, in turn, has motivated the foundation to continue searching for new and innovative philanthropic options for donors to support the causes they are passionate about.

Donors Committing to Today and Tomorrow 

The foundation presented one such option to Hugh and Janyce Mose. Hugh, CATA’S former executive director, and Janyce, a retired audiologist, accumulated modest retirement savings and do not have children or family members to pass it onto. They have always been generous supporters of a number of local organizations, but after a few conversations with the foundation about estate planning, they realized they had a great opportunity to continue giving while they were alive that would also take care of their estate planning. They decided to leave the balances of their retirement accounts to Centre Foundation and created the Hugh and Janyce Mose Fund.

“We crafted a program that would take the proceeds of our IRAs and direct them to the foundation,” Hugh Mose said. “A big chunk of the money would go to the Hugh and Janyce Mose Fund to support the organizations we’re most passionate about.”

Hugh and Janyce have gotten to know the foundation’s staff over the years and appreciate the care and thoughtfulness they show in directing the funds to organizations that are in line with their priorities. Both are in their early 70s and can rest assured knowing that their money will be well-managed for the rest of their lives and beyond.

“The staff put time and thought into what will be the best way to use the money in the way we want and get it to the organizations we are most concerned about,” Janyce Mose said. “We don’t have to worry about what happens to our money when we pass away.”

“We want to pay it forward to the community that’s been so good to us,” Hugh Mose said. “We’ve been lucky and made good decisions, but it doesn’t take zillions of dollars to be helpful to others.”

Donors have also paid it forward by supporting Centre Foundation’s COVID-19 ACTION Fund, which was established in response to the pandemic. The first round of grants supported local programs that provide food, shelter, telemedicine, and other essential services across the county. The second round of funding supported operational or programmatic needs for local nonprofits so they could keep providing their services.

“Providing immediate support to impacted organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic was a service Centre Foundation and the Knight Foundation were grateful to provide,” said Centre Foundation board member Kate Bennett Truitt after serving on the foundation’s Grants Committee. “The additional donations from generous community members allowed us to do even more than we thought possible.”

Over $250,000 has been granted to 55 local nonprofit organizations so far, and looking forward, the foundation has committed to an additional round of funding that will support strategic planning, capacity building, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training for local nonprofits.

Leading the Way Forward 

With the unknown that awaits the future, one thing is certain: Centre Foundation has been working diligently throughout these concerns and finding ways to support and strengthen the community. The emergence of remote working and the commitment to being a part of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for their own organization and others are some ways that the foundation is dedicated to moving forward.

We have seen a new acknowledgment of racial and social injustice not only in our community, but in many more with the emergence of this new decade. Due to the struggles that many members of our community face every day, Centre Foundation is committed to owning this inequity and addressing these issues. The organization is dedicated to using its resources to do so, along with the guidance of its donors and the organizations the foundation partners with.

One of Centre Foundation’s core values of integrity guides the organization to bring about positive change in everything it does. In order to live by this mantra, the staff works diligently to ensure that their own organization reflects the diversity they strive to see. In addition to the staff, the board plays a key role in prioritizing diversity and inclusion.

Lydia Abdullah, a previous board member, re-joined in 2021 to bring valuable knowledge about her understanding of local issues in the community. Starting out as a Penn State student who moved to Happy Valley in 1972 to working at the university for 42 years, 10 of them as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Finance & Business office, Abdullah proved to be a dedicated member of Centre County.

Now she provides wisdom from her community work and at Penn State to collaborate with Centre Foundation and the team’s commitment to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in its policies and procedures, and solidifying it within its strategic plan.

“My vision for DEI in Centre Foundation is that we quickly (within 1-2 years) establish DEI action items that will meet the goals set forth in the strategic plan. Too often an organization will try to rely on broad statements as their intent around DEI, with no definitive plan to get there. I don’t want the foundation to settle for simple words – we must ‘walk the walk,’” said Adbullah.

As the foundation looks ahead and works on how they can improve as an organization, they also want to help other nonprofits with their DEI efforts. Centre Foundation is in the process of organizing a list of best DEI practices for other organizations to use, as well as a range of educational resources for grantees. With these new resources, grantees will be able to create their own DEI policies and the foundation will set goals to ensure that these attributes become a priority for itself and its grantees.

As we look back, there is no doubt that Centre Foundation has come a long way over the past 40 years and grown far beyond R. Paul Campbell’s original vision for a community foundation. By working together with passionate community members, the foundation has led Centre County into a new generation of giving and support for those who make the community into the special place it is today. Read the full magazine here!

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