Our History

We've been strengthening the network of organizations doing great things for Greenville for over sixty years. We do this by linking philanthropic leadership, charitable resources, and civic involvement with needs and opportunities in the community.

Highlights of our History

  • In 1956, a group of approximately 125 citizens voted to organize the Greenville County Foundation with an initial contribution of $5,675.  The Foundation’s seven founding Trustees were Ernest Patton, Eugene E. Stone III, Roger C. Peace, Francis M. Hipp, J.P. Williamston, Harold R. Turner, and Eugene Bryant.
  • The Foundation’s first grant was to fund a survey for the long-range water, sewer and fire protection needs of Greenville County.  This resulted in unified water and sewerage systems in Greenville County and led to orderly development of both residential and commercial areas during a period of tremendous economic and population growth in Greenville during the 1970s.
  • For its first twenty years, the Foundation operated with no paid staff and concentrated on seed grants for community projects that helped establish the Greenville Urban League, Greenville Blood Assurance Plan, Greenville Council on Aging, Senior Citizens’ Center, Metropolitan Arts Council, Volunteer Greenville, Community Food Bank, and Junior Achievement.
  • The Foundation funded the first mass immunization campaign ever conducted in Greenville County to immunize children against polio, measles, tetanus and other diseases.
  • In 1981, the first Executive Director was hired.  During this time the Foundation served as a conduit for private investments in the downtown revitalization initiative known as Greenville Commons which included the Hyatt Regency hotel and provided an impetus for the redevelopment and beautification of Greenville’s downtown business district.
  • In 1985, the Francis Hipp Founders Society was formed and all 36 of the Society’s members provided gifts of $25,000 to the Foundation to create an additional $1,000,000 in unrestricted assets.
  • In 1986, Foundation was selected as one of eight community foundations (out of 28 applicants) for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership Program for Community Foundations.  Greenville was the smallest of the eight chosen cities.  Under this program the Ford Foundation provided $500,000 to the Foundation to fund a comprehensive community-wide effort to improve local childcare services over the next five years.  The Greenville’s Child program was launched in July of 1987. (Greenville’s Child and Success by 6 merged in 2003.)
  • The Community Foundation was challenged by the Ford Foundation grant to raise an additional one million dollars locally for its permanent endowment and achieved the goal in only nine months.  The Capacity Building Grants Program is now funded by the income from a $2,000,000 endowment seeded by the matching gifts made in response to the Ford Foundation grant.
  • Falls Park is the gem of downtown Greenville and has served as the catalyst for revitalization of the West End.  The Community Foundation made a $100,000 gift to Falls Park and manages the permanent endowment fund that was established as part of the private support of this public/private partnership.
  • In recognition of its 50th anniversary in 2006, the Foundation provided major funding for several community initiatives including The Kroc Center, Greenville Women Giving, and Lake Conestee Nature Park.  The Foundation’s commitment to the Kroc Center was $1 million over a ten-year period and is the largest single investment in its history.
  • The Foundation helped provide initial funding for Greenville Early College which began in the summer of 2012 and has been involved in the planning stages for the Reedy River Park.
  • The Foundation provided $250,000 for Homes for Teachers to help make teachers’  dreams of homeownership a reality.  This program was an initiative of the Greenville Housing Fund, now called Community Works Carolina.
  • In 2013, the Community Foundation began funding annual Capacity Building Grants.  We believe that when capacity building is successful, it strengthens and improves a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission, sustain itself over time, and have a quantifiable impact on the community it serves.
  • In recognition of the Community Foundation’s 60th Anniversary, signature grants were given to the South Carolina Children’s Theatre, Greenville Free Medical Clinic, Camperdown Academy, and the Greenville Center for Creative Arts.  The grants totaled $600,000.

The Community Foundation assists families in making their giving simpler and more powerful.  Throughout its history the Foundation has served as a tax-efficient and cost-effective means for individuals, businesses and charitable organizations to provide the financial resources critical to improving the lives of Greenville County residents.

Pleasant Valley Connection

“This is the community’s building. Whatever the community wants to see here, this is what we do.” - Leda Young, Executive Director

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Lesa Kastler Receives 2021 Ruth Nicholson Award

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