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Natalie Parscher // 614-251-4000


The Columbus Foundation Announces Unprecedented Funding Planned for 2020-2021 in Four Target Areas

Columbus, OH (September 10, 2020) — Today, The Columbus Foundation announced unprecedented investments in four key, strategic areas over the next 18 months.

Addressing donors, nonprofits, and other community members during its annual Celebration of Philanthropy, Foundation President and CEO Douglas F. Kridler signaled that the organization would take extraordinary steps, such as going above normal investment allocations and tapping into reserves, to address some of the most pressing challenges our community faces.

“None of this will be easy, or quick, so it is going to take keeping stitched together as we take on these challenges. The Columbus Foundation has a role to play in getting to that better day, and we will. …We are stepping up higher than we ever have in our history, given the times we are in.”


The priority areas outlined are:

Addressing the Racial Equity Wealth Gap – Collaborating with community partners in the Forward Cities effort, One Columbus, the Columbus Urban League, the County, the City, and others, the Foundation will commit $5 million in Program Related Investments (PRIs) over the next two years, primarily to support entrepreneurs of color, and, in particular, Black-owned and led businesses.

Emergency Response Fund – The Foundation will expand grant dollars directed to support organizations that are battling the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and extend the timeline of support through 2021.

Bridging the Digital Divide – The Foundation is doubling its initial $500,000 commitment to $1 million to decrease racial inequities in access to high-speed internet and support related initiatives and projects through 2021.

Preservation of the Arts – In early 2021, a significant expansion of arts support will be announced to help preserve Columbus’ arts infrastructure, which has been hard hit during the pandemic.

Those who wish to contribute to the fund may do so here.

Also during the event, the Foundation awarded its annual Philanthropist of the Year and Nonprofit of the Year honors.

The Harrison M. Sayre Award, given in honor of the Foundation’s founder and volunteer director for 25 years, recognizes leadership in philanthropy in central Ohio. This year, Catherine Willis received the award. A longtime Columbus City Schools teacher, Ms. Willis continues to serve and inspire young people in our community through her retirement. For 30 years, she has served on the board of the Columbus Youth Foundation, The Columbus Foundation’s first Supporting Foundation, an organization that improves the lives of youth from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods by providing healthy, positive opportunities to learn life lessons through recreation and sports. She is also the founder of Urban Strings, an organization dedicated to supporting underserved minority youth in playing string instruments. 

The Columbus Foundation Award recognizes organizations that have made a difference in the quality of life in our community. This year, the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County (HSC) received this recognition. With a mission to unleash the power of human potential through every act of human service, HSC promotes, enhances, and advocates for human service sector organizations and the clients they serve in central Ohio. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HSC has been instrumental in helping human service organizations adapt, stay healthy, and meet the needs of vulnerable community members by shaping the public funding response to these organizations, helping to disseminate PPE, and educating its members about stabilizing loans and grants available to them. As part of the award, HSC received a $25,000 grant.

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 one of the top 10 largest community foundations in the United States.

September 10, 2020