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Celebrating 75 Years!

During our 75th anniversary year, we are proud to celebrate our past, present, and future. Through sponsorships of innovative programs and events, we lift up the collaborative nature of our community today, and look at ways we can help build an even stronger community for tomorrow.

News & Reports
Story of Impact
Transformative Grant
Transformative Grant
Story of Impact
Transformative Grant
Transformative Grant
News & Reports
Transformative Grant

75 years ago, local visionaries, led by Harrison M. Sayre, joined together in the spirit of hope and aspiration to establish The Columbus Foundation. Since then, our donors have been catalysts for change, and their collective generosity has helped shape our strong, connected community.


“The best way to extend your life is to give to the community.”


Seventy-five years ago, a group of passionate citizens, led by Harrison M. Sayre, envisioned a way to improve the community and quality of life in central Ohio. With little more than this sound idea and faith, The Columbus Foundation was established in 1943.


In 1944, the first unsolicited gift of $25 was given to the Foundation by Olga Anna Jones, a teacher, editor of the Ohio Women Voter, reporter for the Columbus Citizen, and Columbus’ first city councilwoman. Today, the Foundation serves as the trusted philanthropic advisor to more than 2,500 individuals, families, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.


“I want to reach as many children as I can in as meaningful a way as possible. It’s not just broad, but it’s deep. I want kids to get so excited that they want to tell their stories to others.”

Dwight Smith

The premise behind the My Special Word program is simple. Teach children about the importance of positive, encouraging, inspiring words—and have them choose a word that describes them. Dwight Smith developed the program, and established the My Special Word Fund, Donor Advised Fund with his wife, Renee.


Read more about My Special Word.


“Since its initial founding in 1955, investing in opportunities for kids to have fun has been a primary goal of the Columbus Youth Foundation.”

Cathy Lyttle, Chair of CYF.

Established as the first Supporting Foundation of The Columbus Foundation in 1976, the Columbus Youth Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in grants to help young people attend summer camp, participate in recreational activities, and engage in athletic pursuits. It makes a difference in the lives of youth from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Columbus by providing healthy, positive opportunities to learn life lessons through recreation and sports.


Read more about the Columbus Youth Foundation.


“We teach girls how to take care of themselves, each other, and be active participants in the well-being of their community through learning social emotional life skills and participating in fun physical activities.”

Jess Sparks, Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Central Ohio.

In 2017, Girls on the Run Central Ohio established an organization endowment fund with The Columbus Foundation to help ensure lasting sustainability for their nonprofit. “We knew we were heading in a direction where we needed to invest our reserve,” Sparks said. “We had built that reserve over those early years, and we need to have two seasons of all expenses should we hit a hard time.” Girls on the Run of Central Ohio reached the milestone of its 10th Anniversary in 2018 and has served over 10,000 girls since the organization’s local inception in 2008.


Read more about Girls on the Run of Central Ohio.

Our celebrations are animated through the photos and stories you share on social media! Continue the conversation with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by tagging us and using #TCF75.