Community Foundation to become Knox County Foundation

The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County will embark on its 75th anniversary year with a more compact name and refreshed corporate branding, Executive Director Sam Barone announced today.

Effective January 1, 2019, Knox County’s longest-operating provider of grants and college scholarships will become the “Knox County Foundation.” The change in name will not impact any of its existing funds; nor will it require a change in any estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts or transfer on death designations, Barone said.

Community Foundation Chair Terry Divelbiss said board action to change the Foundation’s name completes a transition that began in 1994 when the organization observed its 50th anniversary by adding “Knox County” to its founding name, the “Mount Vernon Community Trust,” reflecting the expansion of its mission from Mount Vernon alone to the entire county.

A subsequent major change occurred in 2001 when the trust form was abandoned in favor of a more flexible corporate model that allowed for a larger, more representative, board of directors and paid staff, and gave birth to “The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County,” Divelbiss added.

Over the past 74 years three distinct logos had been adopted to support the Foundation’s evolution in name, and the upcoming, January 1 name change will be no exception, Barone told the Alcove Restaurant audience at the Foundation’s annual “Partners in Philanthropy” luncheon Thursday for organization fund representatives, bar association members, and associates of the Heart of Ohio Estate Planning Council.

Barone revealed a new branding element, created for the “Knox County Foundation” by local graphic artist Carrie Haver who, in her new part-time position as Foundation Media Manager, will help to establish the new name and corporate logo on a variety of print and social media platforms, including a new website scheduled for roll-out early in 2019.

Why the change now? Divelbiss said discussion about adopting a more accessible and descriptive name began almost a year ago at the board’s annual strategic planning retreat. “There was board consensus our current name was cumbersome and did not lend itself to effective communication with those we serve, a constituency that is increasingly county-wide in nature. The more descriptive name “Knox County Foundation” virtually suggested itself, and it was agreed our upcoming 75th anniversary in 2019 was the ideal time to make the change,” Divelbiss said.

The Mount Vernon Community Trust was established in December of 1944, as the end of our war in Europe was in sight. Beatty B. Williams, then president of Cooper-Bessemer (later Cooper Industries, Rolls-Royce and Siemens), imported the concept of a community endowment fund from Cleveland, where it was pioneered in 1914 with the establishment of the Cleveland Foundation. Mount Vernon was acknowledged at the time to be one of the first small communities in the nation to adopt what was primarily a large city model for community philanthropy. The purpose of the Mount Vernon Community Trust was elegantly summarized by then secretary Charles M. Zelkowitz in the Trust’s first annual report:

“Each donor by his act has forever made himself an integral part of the civic welfare of the community. Each has created a living memorial whose purpose can never fail. Each will have a deferred participation in a new world he may never know, but which will nevertheless benefit from his foresight and generosity.”

 The Trust was established with five relatively modest funds totaling $131,394 and its Distribution Committee of five members issued a single $500 grant in the initial year of operation, that to contract the services of a city planner for Mount Vernon. By contrast, year-to-date 2018, the successor Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County holds assets in excess of $73 million, has 436 component funds, and has used endowment income to award more than $3.2 million in grants county-wide, including more than $1 million in scholarships, to Knox County non-profit organizations and college students.

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