Gloria Perez (Jeremiah Program) and Lucy Zanders (Theresa Living Center) answer questions about how to help young mothers and children in crisis.


At the Catholic Community Foundation’s (CCF) 25th Anniversary event, guests were invited to “Come to the Table” — a metaphor for breaking bread, sharing ideas, and living our gratitude for the gifts we’ve been graced to receive.

As donors, parishes, and community organizations joyously gathered around the table CCF had set, it became apparent that CCF had built something more significant than a sum of charitable assets under management. CCF has also built a philanthropic community that hungers for connection and insight.

CCF’s in-depth knowledge of past, current, and proposed initiatives in the community — and our ability to connect community organizations with philanthropists who support their missions — not only satisfies that need for connection but also enhances the value of every dollar that flows through CCF to the community.

“We identified two strategies to help us better steward our community insights,” explains Meg Payne Nelson, grants program manager for CCF. “First, we launched the Giving Insights forum series which we hope will inform and inspire greater and more effective philanthropy. Second, we built an intentional grantmaking strategy to enhance the impact of our own grants.”


Giving Insights Forum Series

CCF’s Giving Insights forums convene thought leaders from national and local churches and nonprofits to discuss community needs and innovative approaches for meeting those needs. Nearly 300 Catholic philanthropists, community partners, and friends of CCF attended one or more of the three forums held in 2018.

Each forum addressed a single question related to a critical need in our community. First, “Are Catholic Millennials engaging in their Catholic faith?” Second, “How do we help young mothers and their children in crisis break the cycle of poverty?” Finally, “Can urban Catholic elementary schools close the achievement gap and be self-sustaining?”

“It was exciting to meet and hear from people who are equally passionate about Catholic education and philanthropy,” agrees Teri McCloughan, a CCF philanthropist and Giving Insights forum attendee. McCloughan also serves on the board of Risen Christ Catholic School, a dual-language immersion school in Minneapolis.

Building on past success, CCF is planning to host another series of Giving Insights forums. The lineup is impressive. In one event, Parish Catalyst’s John Poitevent will explain why he believes, “A church without Millennials is a church without a future.” A second gathering will focus on immigration and feature “the Pope’s favorite nun” and “champion of immigrants,” Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley. The final forum will feature Sister John Mary Fleming, O.P., former executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education at the USCCB.

Learn more and register at


CCF Impact Grants

In 2017, CCF’s grantmaking exceeded $10 million for the first time. While the vast majority of those grants were directed by donors, more and more philanthropists are entrusting portions of their charity to CCF’s extensive knowledge of our local community. Anticipating the growth of these discretionary grantmaking dollars, CCF’s grants committee decided the time had come to perform a formal community needs assessment in order to create a strategy for CCF’s discretionary grantmaking.

“It wasn’t a million-dollar undertaking,” says Meg Payne Nelson, program officer for CCF, who oversaw the effort. “It was an incremental, proportionate discovery process that reflected our commitment to careful stewardship of funds and grantmaking for greatest impact.”

In addition to reviewing critical community needs as identified by global and national sources, input was solicited from leaders of local parishes and nonprofit organizations as well as current CCF philanthropists, board members, and staff.

“Ultimately, there are a lot of great causes out there and no single answer,” says CCF Grants Committee Chair Emery Koenig. “We looked for synergies and areas where we were positioned to make the greatest impact.”

The new strategy includes an allocation for the President’s Fund designed to meet unanticipated or urgent community needs. The remainder will be deployed as follows:

Spiritual Impact Grants
Designed to revitalize parishes through engagement and evangelization of youth and young adults, especially Millennials.

Social Impact Grants
Intended to serve vulnerable populations through parish ministries that provide volunteers opportunities for encounter and accompaniment.

Educational Impact Grants
Targeted to build capacity of Catholic schools; particularly those serving low-income populations and the Latino/Hispanic community.

“We found a golden thread that connected our social, spiritual, and educational impact mission areas,” explains Koenig. “When you see a Millennial helping a young, single mother, who may also be an immigrant, doesn’t that also have an impact on your parish outreach and education? Absolutely.”

“We are constantly inspired by the generosity of this community,” concludes CCF President Anne Cullen Miller. “Our Giving Insights forums and Impact Grant strategy are gifts we gladly brought to the table in 2018.”

Learn more about CCF’s grantmaking here.

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