Charitable Everett group changes name, widens reach

EVERETT — The Greater Everett Community Foundation has a new name that better suits is mission of helping donors support nonprofit groups countywide. At its fundraising breakfast Thursday, the organization announced it will now be known as the Community Foundation of Snohomish County.

Maddy Metzger-Utt, foundation president and CEO, said at the event that another change is coming. Thursday’s Possibilities Breakfast, held in a ballroom at Everett’s Xfinity Arena, was the last such annual fundraiser. Beginning in 2016, the foundation will host smaller gatherings around the county. The goals are to spread the word about the foundation’s work and learn of needs in communities all over the county.

The small gatherings will start May 11 in Snohomish, followed by an event in Arlington next July.

“It’s not just Everett, it’s countywide,” said Patsy Cudaback, a YMCA of Snohomish County senior vice president who heads the Monroe Y. “It sends the right message,” she said of the name change.

Cudaback said a foundation grant was used this summer to prepare 40 children for kindergarten at two Monroe schools. Most had never attended preschool, she said. That’s just one example of hundreds of grants the foundation provides.

The organization also has a new website, www.cf-sc.org, which on Thursday showed this message: “New name, same mission!”

Metzger-Utt said that in 2014 alone, the foundation helped donors make 260 grants — more than $1 million in all — to nonprofits countywide.

Thursday’s program opened with Patty DeGroodt, chairwoman of the foundation’s board, sharing the history of organization, which is deeply rooted in Everett.

Beginning in 1993 as the Everett Parks Foundation, the group worked with the city, clubs and businesses to build new playgrounds at three local parks. In 2001, the group’s board decided to become a full-fledged community foundation.

The Greater Everett Community Foundation’s eight founding families — the Newlands, Phil Johnson, John and Idamae Schack, the Bargreens, the Nysethers, the Tisdels, the Thorsens and the Metzgers — made contributions in 2001 to establish a $2 million operating endowment, which has grown to almost $2.3 million.

With $15 million in assets, the foundation now holds more than 100 charitable funds. They provide grants to all kinds of nonprofits, including homeless shelters, parks, libraries and arts groups. “The vast majority of our funds are permanently endowed, so as our assets grow we should be giving out more and more grants each year,” Metzger-Utt said.

She said there are Trust for Tomorrow donors whose gifts will be made after their deaths. About 40 people have pledged to eventually leave more than $42 million to charitable causes through the foundation, she said.

Breakfast guests were asked to consider making Foundation Supporter-level donations — annual gifts of $500 to $2,500 per year over three years. Metzger-Utt said about $42,000 was raised at the 2014 breakfast. Those donations support the foundation’s nonprofit services, she said. The donor form also asked guests if they would like to be involved, and whether they would attend or host a community gathering.

Metzger-Utt said the foundation recently completed a strategic plan, based on results of surveys from a previous breakfast and interviews with representatives of nonprofits and communities. Along with the name change, the plan envisions more collaboration and partnerships, and possible work on economic development issues.

Training for people involved in nonprofits is already a big focus. Working with United Way of Snohomish County, the foundation offers “Boards on Fire” training programs to help members of nonprofit boards. A Leader Link service matches people interested in service with nonprofits seeking board members.

The breakfast was preceded by a nonprofit showcase, where people from nonprofits talked about their work.

Barbara Kindness, a board member with the Edmonds Driftwood Players community theater, said the foundation supports a “Take a Kid to the Theater” program. “Kids from shelters get to go to live performances,” she said.

Asked about the name change, Dr. Jimmy Grierson said it makes sense. “They do reach out countywide,” said Grierson, a family practice doctor, volunteer and board member with the Safe Harbor Free Clinic in Stanwood.

Crisann Brooks, director of family support with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, said grants from the foundation enhance programs at its Family Support Centers, from Lynnwood and Everett to Lake Stevens, Arlington and Granite Falls.

“I like the name change,” Brooks said. “They support the entire community.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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