Our History

Our History

Beginning years as reported by Mike Maidenberg, President of the Foundation Board of Directors on August 9, 1999

Community leaders had been discussing the need for a community foundation since the beginning of this decade. The concern was that there was no local institution that addressed broad-based philanthropy in the way a community foundation can. The North Dakota Community Foundation, based in Bismarck (255 miles away) seemed too distant to be a solution. The Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation (80 miles away) was another alternative, but Grand Forks was concerned about being able to steer an independent path. To be subsumed under Faro-Moorhead would have discouraged local giving, in the judgment of community leaders.

There was a working committee that met once or twice a year. The last meeting ironically, was two days before the flood on 1997.

It was in the aftermath of the disaster that a stronger push for a community foundation emerged. First and foremost, when Joan Kroc (“the Angel”) said she wanted to give $15-20 million to Grand Forks, she (or her advisers) first sought to channel the dollars through a community foundation. They found that Grand Forks did not have one.

As it turned out, the Kroc dollars went through the North Dakota Community Foundation. But those of us who wanted Grand Forks to have its own community foundation thought there was a gaping hole by not having a foundation in place. Even though Kroc said she wanted all her funds to pass through, we felt that in the case of this gift or future gifts, there ought to be a way to transform the giving impulse into philanthropic endowment.

So on November 21, 1997, the foundation was incorporated. Tom Clifford, former president of the university of North Dakota and chair of the Mayor’s Task Force for Flood Recovery, was a key member of the group urging that the foundation get under way.

On January 18, 1998, we receive our provision 501(c)3 status, and organized the board. We adopted a set of bylaws, and I assumed as its president.

“A community foundation’s value derives from its dual capacity to shine a light on issues of critical, local importance and to attract local resources to meet those needs. Because of its unique connection to donors, nonprofits, local policymakers and residents who care deeply about the community, it is often well positioned to tackle issues of vital significance to the community.” James Irvine Foundation