Foundation celebrates 50th anniversary

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the state’s largest and oldest community foundation, recently celebrated $200 million in grant-making since its creation in 1959 and started a year of celebration by bringing together close to 1,000 people from across Jefferson, Shelby, Blount, St. Clair and Walker counties.

The 50th anniversary event at Birmingham Children’s Theatre featured emcee Atticus Rominger and keynote speaker Rebecca Ryan, CEO of Next Generation Consulting.

Joining the crowd to offer special activities during the interactive reception were Shelby County School literacy program representatives teaching Spanish, Shelby County Arts Council and other arts organizations helping participants paint two special canvasses for the 50th anniversary, and the Cahaba River Society setting up a dry-land canoe race.

“This meeting represents the start of our anniversary year,” said president Kate Nielsen. “We hope everyone will continue to celebrate with us by telling us what they love about our great community and their wildest hope for our shared future.”

Links on the Community Foundation website ( take visitors to a new site where they can share their dreams or to a blog where they can add comments.

“We see a phenomenal appetite for change,” said Eddie Friend, chair of the board of the Community Foundation. “As we respond to current needs through our Housing Stability Fund, we also are looking for opportunities to do more big things that will transform our community.”

In Shelby County, for example, Shelby Emergency Assistance is providing help for individuals through grants from the Community Foundation’s Housing Stability Fund.

The annual meeting also was the occasion to report statistics for the Community Foundation, which recently ranked in the top 50 community foundations for total assets, grants made and gifts received. The foundation ended the year with assets totaling $132 million, Friend said.