Our Stories

Grassroots to Greatness

Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia History:

Originally established as the Gwinnett Foundation, Inc. in 1985, this nonprofit has greatly evolved over the years, leaving an indelible mark on Gwinnett County and the broader Northeast Georgia region. 

Let’s dive into some personal history… 

Founding Vision: Community-Minded Citizens Unite (1985)
In March 1985, a group of visionary and community-minded citizens came together to create the Gwinnett Foundation, Inc. Their mission was clear – to receive and disburse charitable funds to improve the quality of life throughout Gwinnett County. This grassroots initiative marked the foundation’s inception and set the stage for decades of impactful philanthropy.

Seeds of Growth: A Capital Campaign and a Challenge Grant (1985-1987)
A pivotal moment in the foundation’s history occurred when a capital campaign provided the initial seed money. However, it was the efforts of the late Robert D. Fowler in 1987 that propelled the foundation forward. Fowler, alongside other Gwinnett Daily News owners, generously offered a $1 million challenge grant, matched by the community. This substantial boost not only increased grant awards but also laid the foundation for future asset growth.

As of 2024, the Community Foundation has granted out over $90 million to local nonprofits!

Evolution and Expansion: Becoming the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (2002)
Reflecting the foundation’s regional impact and vision, the board of directors made a significant decision in March 2002. They voted to change the name to the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, a testament to the broader reach and influence the foundation had attained beyond its initial boundaries.

Innovation and Education: Strengthening Nonprofits and Donors (2002-Present)
Through strategic partnerships with the Georgia Center of Nonprofits, the Southeast Council on Foundations and the J.W. Fanning Institute at UGA, the foundation brings top-tier nonprofit educational opportunities to Gwinnett. 

The organization established its Nonprofit Academy in the early 2010s. NPA is just that – an interactive, educational program for nonprofits in our community. The program brings together top-tier lecturers and workshops to teach nonprofits core concepts in business operations, fundraising, storytelling and leadership development. 

Impactful Giving: $90 Million and Counting (1985-Present)
Over the years, the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia has not only grown in terms of giving but has diversified its impact across various sectors. With grants exceeding $90 million, the foundation has played a crucial role in supporting the arts, education, faith-based organizations, community service and healthcare. The Community Foundation is ever evolving – now expanding into corporate leadership training.

Last fall, the organization offered its first-ever educational event geared towards C-Suite executives with its Getting IT Done seminar. Spearheaded by the renowned Chris McChesney from FranklinCovey, this event brought the Community Foundation to a new level of educational resources.

This March they’re expanding their annual Nonprofit Academy to be for all leaders – whether they are a key part of a business, church, nonprofit, etc… Leaders from all organizations are welcome to attend the new Nonprofit and Leadership Academy. They will also be offering their first-ever 6-month leadership development cohort with Linnea Miller, CEO of LongTable Consulting this spring.