Local Group Forms Los Alamos Community Foundation

From left, Paul Andrus, Kristy Ortega and David Izraelevitz confer on the logistics of the non-profit conference ‘Non-Profit Collaboration in Los Alamos’ to be held in March 2016. Andrus is helping to coordinate the event as his community project requirement for Leadership Los Alamos. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos Daily Post
If philanthropic activity in the community is any indication, residents clearly feel Los Alamos is a hometown worth preserving.
Now a diverse group of community members has taken steps to make the fundraising efforts of the many local nonprofits within Los Alamos County more efficient and effective, allowing even small groups to set up endowments and donor-advised funds.
The group has officially formed the Los Alamos Community Foundation, a non-profit corporation with a broad philanthropic mission centered on our community. LACF will help raise, manage and distribute donations to support the community, and provide a ready mechanism for donors to set up funds that support their specific charitable goals.
LACF will accept and manage large gifts, and have ongoing relationships with attorneys, financial planners, financial institutions and investment companies. Thus, community members who want to include Los Alamos in their financial or estate planning will have a ready mechanism to do so. Local organizations can receive funds specifically designated for their organization, or via competitive grants from funds designed to support a variety of local purposes.

Because LACF has a community-wide mission, it can coordinate and broaden initiatives among different organizations that support a common mission. For example, within the educational continuum, a single fund focused on education could sponsor programs to support school readiness programs in local pre-schools, coordinate with the LAPS Foundation in the K-12 efforts, and support UNM-LA or career counseling efforts.

“Maybe the most valuable contribution that the LAFC may make to our community is to reinforce our sense of mutual care and understanding. This sense of community, if it can be harnessed and directed toward real progress, would permeate all aspects of our social fabric, from volunteer action to charitable giving to civic activism,” LACF President David Izraelevitz said. “This sense of common mission and direction would help all charitable organizations in Los Alamos, whether associated with the Foundation or not, to accomplish their goals. We have received a lot of support from local organizations about this vision, from small organizations such as LACares and Self Help, to the larger organizations such as the Los Alamos Family Y and Los Alamos Family Council.”

A main goal of the Los Alamos Community Foundation is to provide financial and organizational support to those local nonprofits that address needs in our community, he said. One of the LACF’s first projects in 2016 will be a conference convening these nonprofits to provide training, share information and identify key needs for their success.

“The United Way is really supportive of the Los Alamos Community Foundation’s efforts and looking forward to collaborating with them not only on the conference but other endeavors to increase benefits to the community and those in need,” said Executive Director Kristy Ortega of the United Way of Northern New Mexico. “United Way funds a lot of smaller nonprofits and the community foundation will fund larger capital projects for the community.”

Tony Fox of the LANL Foundation has served on the LACF’s steering committee since its inception in 2013. “It’s been an exciting process working with these folks to create an organization that will do so much good for the community,” Fox said. “This will give community members an opportunity to support a local nonprofit with a savings account through the community foundation, offering long term sustainability solutions. It can really be project focused so if there is a need the entire community would benefit from – it’s a way to get that project off the ground.”

Los Alamos Historical Society Board President Michael Wheeler said he and his wife Kyle are contributing to the LACF.

“I believe that the Los Alamos Historical Society is undertaking a major fundraising effort and the community has really gotten behind it … I don’t believe we’re competing with the foundation … Los Alamos is such that it can support many organizations.”

Don Cobb served on the steering committee for the LAFC and the LANL Foundation and is serving on the UWNNM Board.

“My interest in the LACF is its ability to sustain a longer term view, and be a support to existing nonprofits as well,” Cobb said. “United Way touches people in northern New Mexico, collects money and distributes it but it’s a different effort to go for longer term endeavors … the LACF is a place to build an endowment and is something to add value across a variety of nonprofits.”

Izraelevitz explained that LACF is focused on helping Los Alamos citizens help themselves.

“We think there is opportunity for more philanthropy staying in town to benefit local organizations,” he said. “We hope to be useful to local nonprofits and make them successful financially and organizationally. Most foundations are started by a few multimillionaires; we are taking a more bottom-up approach, establishing a Founders Society and getting as many founders as we can to donate $1,000 per year for three years to get us off the ground. This has resonated with the community, and we are very pleased with the response so far.”

For more information and to pledge, visit www.losalamoscf.org.