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A Legacy of Hope

The Columbus Foundation was founded in the midst of World War II, during one of our country’s darkest times, with the goal of creating a brighter future. But no past challenges could have prepared us for the hardship and uncertainty 2020 would bring.

When the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the United States, there was no denying the virus would impact us locally. Recognizing that there would be immediate implications for the nonprofits serving our community, the Foundation’s leadership moved swiftly to establish the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund (ERF) on March 10—just one day after the first case in Ohio was announced. Within a week of launching the fund, grants were already being deployed to help nonprofits support the most vulnerable in our community.

This quick response was made possible, in part, through the foresight and trust of a man named Robert B. Hurst. Hurst was a successful businessman known for his generosity to his family and his community. Though he passed away in 1966, his legacy of helping continues today through the Robert B. Hurst Fund, an Unrestricted Fund of The Columbus Foundation established as a gift to “enable the Foundation to respond to many new challenges and opportunities.”

In March 2020, the Robert B. Hurst Fund provided a $500,000 grant to seed the ERF, illustrating that his love and commitment to our community is helping the Foundation respond to an unprecedented and unforeseen crisis generations later.

The Columbus Foundation is able to respond to unforeseen community challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the generosity of visionary donors like Hurst who created permanent Unrestricted Funds. Each fund, named by its creator, acts as an enduring, effective, strategic investment in our community. The Foundation is dedicated to careful stewardship of funds entrusted to us, and as our donors’ funds grow over time, their impact in the community is amplified.

For example, in his will, Hurst made bequests to family and friends and established a trust to provide monthly lifetime income for his brother and two sisters. After his siblings had passed, the remainder of the trust came to The Columbus Foundation as the trust’s remainder beneficiary per his will, thus establishing the Robert B. Hurst Fund. At the time of its inception in 1986, the Robert B. Hurst Fund totaled $11.7 million. Today, through careful investing, the fund has grown to more than $31 million, even after awarding approximately $23 million in grants. That’s powerful math for good.

As the Robert B. Hurst Fund illustrates, the impact permanent funds have on our community is significant, enabling the Foundation to promote innovation, respond to unforeseen challenges, and invest in the future of our city generation after generation.

For more than 75 years, the Foundation has served as the vehicle through which thousands of people have expressed their own ideals and optimism through philanthropic investment in our community. While the work continues, and the hills to climb remain steep, we applaud the generosity of our donors’ commitment to our community and those who call it home.


About The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation serves nearly 3,000 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and is one of the top ten largest community foundations in the country.


Oct 28, 2020



Angela Parsons, J.D., CAP®, Vice President – Donor Services