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How 5 Big Idaho Foundations Help Shape The State

From The Idaho Statesman | By Anna Webb

Idaho foundations come in diverse shapes and sizes.

Some are family funds, often created upon the death of a wealthy person and run by surviving family members, that have supported favorite causes for decades. The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation in Boise, for example, gave grants in 2015 that ranged from $1,800 to pay for community concerts in Fruitland to $400,000 for the St. Luke’s Health System’s pediatric oncology and hematology center in Boise.

Some, like the U.S. Bank Foundation, are part of companies headquartered in other states that do business here and fund Idaho projects in arts and culture, education and more.

Some allow members to pool investments. Members of the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation commit $1,100 annually in three-year intervals to help causes the members support. The Idaho Community Foundation acts as an umbrella and manager for donors who do not want to seek 501(c)(3) status themselves.

In general, foundations do not perform “hands-on” work in communities. They fund charities that do. A typical private foundation gets its money from a single source such as an individual (often through an estate), a family or a company.

Of the Treasure Valley’s five biggest foundations, two were created from the wealth of now-deceased business tycoons, two solicit funds from anyone who will donate, and one is an arm of the largest for-profit employer in the valley.

Business Insider took a look at those financial powerhouses and how they put their money to work. Financial information is 2013 data, the latest available, from “Nonprofit Explorer,” a project of ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization that maintains data on nonprofits.

Assets: $555,584,926
Revenue: $18,440,070
Largest source: Dividends (80 percent)
Expenses: $34,865,548

Points of interest: The foundation, named for Joe Albertson, who opened the first of his iconic supermarkets in Boise in 1939, focused its giving in Idaho on learning, scholarships, classroom projects, large scale initiatives, plus community investment for many years, says Executive Director Roger Quarles. One major project was “Go On,” a campaign to interest more students in postsecondary education. The foundation gave $11 million in scholarships to universities and grants to mostly rural secondary schools.

The foundation has recently supported more projects outside the classroom, including a new YMCA on Eagle Road; Boise’s Rhodes Park, a skateboarding park in the River Street neighborhood; and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County. But Quarles notes that the foundation’s support of education remains strong, through current programs such as the Idaho PTECH Network, which helps rural students interested in aerospace, health care and computer science study and find jobs and internships in those fields; and BLUUM, a program to create new, high-performing school options in charter, private and public schools.

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