Hamilton Community Foundation Contributes to the Quality of Life in the Region
By Staff Report
For nearly 70 years, the Hamilton Community Foundation has been dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community. “Hamilton is a very generous community. It has a history of philanthropy, and I think it continues today,” said John Guidugli, president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation. He said the organization is the oldest and largest community foundation in Butler County. The Hamilton Community Foundation was established on Christmas Eve in 1951 with an initial gift of $5,000. Today, the foundation oversees over 700 funds with about $100 million in assets.
“I think the biggest advantage of the Hamilton Community Foundation is it’s something that everybody can participate in. We gather dollars from many different donors, and we are able to bring those dollars together and use them with the most impact, and make the biggest difference in the community,” said Guidugli.
Located in the historic Lane-Hooven House, Hamilton Community Foundation covers the areas that are served by the Hamilton City School District, Ross Local School District and New Miami Local Schools. The foundation operates with a staff of four employees, including Guidugli, Katie Braswell (vice president), Debbie Mast (administrative program manager) and Dan Sander (VP finance.) The foundation is governed by a board of 11 trustees, who meet five times a year. Around $5 million dollars in grants and scholarships are awarded annually.
“It seems like almost anywhere you look in the community, you can see the impact of the Hamilton Community Foundation,” said Guidugli.He said, “You look at education, we are doing scholarships. We are doing the Harry T. Wilks – Educator of Excellence Award. We are offering programs in the schools, so the schools are being covered. You look at the parks, and we are supporting the parks in the community. As far as economic development, we have supported several economic development projects that have helped things come together, including the CORE Fund and Marcum Park.”
Hamilton Community Foundation manages a number of funds, including Unrestricted Community Grants, Restricted (or designated) funds and Scholarships. Addressing needs in the community, Hamilton Community Foundation typically awards around $850,000 to $1 million dollars in Unrestricted Community Grants to local nonprofits each year. Unrestricted Community Grants are awarded five times a year. Visit www.hamiltonfoundation.org for more information, or to apply for a grant.
Previous grant recipients have included Fitton Center for the Arts, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County, Hamilton Parks Conservancy, Hamilton CORE, Neighborhood Housing Services of Hamilton and many more.
“We are able to be engaged with each part of the community and have a positive impact. When you start to put that all together, it really changes the community in a positive way. It is extremely rewarding to be involved with that,” Guidugli said.
Hamilton Community Foundation supports a broad range of endeavors, including education, economic development and the parks to social service agencies and the arts. Strategic initiatives of the Hamilton Community Foundation are to create a better educated community, to increase economic vitality, to enhance community quality of life and to increase assets to increase impact. Many donors give during their lifetimes, while others include the Hamilton Community Foundation in their estate plans.
“It is the result of generous donors, an engaged board and a good staff at the Hamilton Community Foundation. All of these allow us to be successful, and we have continued to give back to the community for almost 70 years,” Guidugli said.
Annually, Hamilton Community Foundation awards about $1 million dollars in scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Scholarships are also available for current college students, who want to continue their education, as well as scholarship opportunities for non-traditional students. About 250-275 scholarships are awarded to students, annually, in varying amounts.
“The thing about scholarships is it just creates opportunities that might not be there otherwise,” Guidugli said, “For them to know that people in the community care enough to say, ‘I’m going to set up a scholarship,’ really is an encouragement to students and it sets the bar high, so they want to succeed,” Guidugli said.
Scholarships include nursing and health care scholarships to engineering, performing arts like music and theater, and those that recognize community service. Recently, there have also been more scholarships added for students who attend non-traditional, vocational training programs. A scholarship reception is usually held in May of each year, but the event was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. Through 2019, More than $13 million in scholarships have been given out to more than 3,000 area students.
Another newer program for recent college graduates is the TAPS (or the Talent Attraction Program Scholarship.) The program was introduced in 2019.
“If graduates are willing to move into the community, and work in community, then they can get some of their student loan debt forgiven, so it helps them pay for college after they’ve graduated. I believe we are up to 10 individuals who are participating in that program,” said Guidugli.
In other initiatives, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton Community Foundation has joined forces with other regional partners to establish the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.
“We were offered the opportunity to join in this COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, and it made a lot of sense, because it brought additional resources to our area. We are collaborating with a number of partners, including Butler County United Way, United Way of Warren County and the Warren County Foundation. Those are some of organizations in this area, but then, we also partnered with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, United Way of Greater Cincinnati and a number of private foundations in the Cincinnati area, which allowed us to access funds we would never be able to bring,” Guidugli said.
Initial funding from the fund was allocated to Butler and Warren Counties, including $150,000 for Butler County organizations, and another $100,000 for Warren County organizations.
“Then, they agreed to match dollars that we could raise. Again, up to $150,000 additional for Butler County, and up to $100,000 additional for Warren County. So, all in, they were bringing quite a bit of money to the table – $300,000 to Butler County and $200,000 to Warren County. It allowed us to leverage our funds, and to be able to have a bigger impact in the community,” Guidugli said.
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