Douglas County Community Foundation celebrating 10 years of charitable giving

Since 2000, the Douglas County Community Foundation has contributed funds to everything from accessible health care to historic restoration.

It has helped women in need, families with adoptions, college students with emergency expenses, residents with physical fitness, young farmers with gardens, and the community with environmental preservation, among many other projects large and small.

Now, as it celebrates two milestones — its 10th anniversary and the $5 million mark for grants given to the community — the unique philanthropical organization is looking forward to getting more residents involved in charitable action.

“It’s not just those who can give $20,000,” said Chip Blaser, executive director of the foundation. “Everyone can be a philanthropist on their own scale and in their own way.”

The foundation was born a decade ago with a $4 million donation by the late Hortense “Tensie” Oldfather, a longtime Lawrence philanthropist, and the group has gained momentum through the years with donations of all sizes, even through the economic recession.

“There has been some effect,” Blaser said of the economy. “Most of the funds are invested. Certainly the downturn of 2008 affected that significantly, but the donors have continued to be wonderful despite their own net worth going down in that time.”

In its 2010 Report to the Community, the foundation lists net assets of about $11.5 million.

Blaser said that in coming years the foundation would place more emphasis on strategic initiatives such as LiveWell Lawrence, a network of organizations and individuals dedicated to making residents healthier and more physically active. LiveWell Lawrence began in 2008 when the Douglas County Community Foundation won a $300,000 grant.

LiveWell and other programs associated with the foundation — including the family Birthing Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Ballard Center, Health Care Access, the St. Luke AME Church restoration, and the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund, among many others — will be in the spotlight Saturday, Aug. 21, as the foundation celebrates its first decade with a special event at the Lawrence Arts Center. Reserved tickets are required for the event.

At a glance:

$4 million

Amount given by the late Hortense “Tensie” Oldfather, a longtime Lawrence philanthropist, to establish the Douglas County Community Foundation in 2000.

$17 million

Amount contributed since 2000 by 3,100 donors to 90 charitable funds.

$5 million

Amount of grant money awarded to about 200 community organizations in the past 10 years.


Number of mothers and newborn infants who received care at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Family Birthing Center, whose construction was supported by a $500,000 grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation, the largest grant DCCF has ever made.


Amount donated by 1,000 “fairy godmothers” to create an endowment, now valued at $136,000, to help women with short-term needs.


Amount provided each year through the foundation’s Jim Carr Memorial Fund to help a Douglas County family with the costs of adopting a child.


Number of local environmental projects receiving, together, $95,000 in grants through the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund.


The Douglas County Community Foundations’s net assets as of Dec. 31, 2009.

How to get involved

For information on applying for a grant or making a gift to the foundation, visit, or call (785) 843-8727.

— Source: Douglas County Community Foundation Report to the Community, and Chip Blaser.