York County Community Foundation was founded in 1961 by generous visionaries who saw an opportunity to perpetually support their community by pooling charitable giving, investing it to grow over time and make grants to charity from the earnings on the pooled fund. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Community Foundation made a real push to build its assets so that it could become the kind of leading organization it is today. Donors are the crux of our existence; they are the reason we have been so successful over the years. Today, thanks to encouragement from many community leaders, we have enhanced our mission to include being a community leader and changemaker by working with community stakeholders to leverage our grantmaking and expertise for powerful community improvement.
Click through the decades below to see how donors, grantees, and community leaders have worked together with YCCF to fuel community transformation for the past 60 years!
York Foundation established to “receive, accept and administer property (mainly trusts) for charitable purposes, primarily in or for the benefit of the County of York, Pennsylvania”.
Our creators included: William Baker, P.H. Glatfelter, Henry Schmidt, Philip Hoover, Ben Lavetan, Beauchamp Smith, and Mary Keesey. Total assets at this time were $6,850, and in the first year the Community Foundation awarded 7 grants of $100 each to area nonprofits.
Created YCCF’s first discretionary grant fund, later named the Fund for York County, to generate grants that would meet evolving community needs as they change over time.
The Fund for York County currently focuses on helping children succeed in school, revitalizing neighborhoods and downtowns, and strengthening the workforce pipeline. Thanks to many visionary donors who contribute to the Fund for York County, it now awards more than $775,000 to hundreds of nonprofit organizations annually. This Fund has awarded close to $6 million for a stronger York County during the past 60 years!
The Beauchamp E. and Josephine D. Smith Fund was the first transfer of a private foundation’s assets to York County Community Foundation.
Mr. Smith was a founder and first president of York County Community Foundation. He realized that moving assets from a bank to a fund at YCCF saved administrative costs and would be guided by expert staff that are focused on the needs of his community. Josephine Donnavan Smith was the first president of the Junior Service League of York. The Fund has awarded grants of $106,000 to sustain the Martin Library and York County History Center during the past 40 years and will keep giving!
Created the Energy Conservation Fund with a gift from Columbia Gas and a later gift from the Charles G. Eyster Family Fund.
The transformative work of this fund provided technical assistance to build the first green school building in Pennsylvania, and won awards for innovation by helping dozens of nonprofits in York County implement energy conservation measures. Through energy conservation, York County nonprofits have saved $8 million dollars, allowing them to better spend those precious resources on their missions. Today the fund continues to incentivize sustainable energy alternatives.
Implemented a ‘Revitalization Plan’ to create a powerful organizational structure to grow endowment and grow impact.
While in business for 30 years, YCCF assets in 1992 were just over $1 million. Grants that year totaled $38,750. The goal was to grow assets to $5 million and create the momentum to ‘take off’. Reaching that milestone in just 2 years transformed YCCF into York County’s Center for Philanthropy. Carolyn Steinhauser became our first Executive Director and Bill Anstine became board chair to catapult the plan forward.
Launched the Focus on Our Future Initiative to create high quality, affordable and accessible early learning opportunities in York County.
With support of the Heinz Endowment and Pew Charitable Trust, YCCF raised $2.7 million dollars in endowment to improve the quality, affordability, and accessibility of early childhood education. The Focus on Our Future Initiative transformed the delivery of childcare in York County. It trained early education teachers, invested in quality classroom improvements, and advocated for additional state funding to subsidize the cost of care. Today there is a statewide accreditation program for early learning centers that was informed by the excellent work of Focus on Our Future. There are now 40 high-quality, accredited childcare programs in York County compared to less than five 20 years ago.
With an $8,000 seed grant from the Struckhoff Family fund, YCCF incentivized local communities to create Dollars For Scholars (DFS) chapters at area school districts and endowments at YCCF to support annual student scholarships.
The vision of Eugene Struckoff was to increase the number of York County students that attend college by engaging the loyal residents of school districts to donate to scholarship programs. Today almost every school district in York County has a DFS chapter or scholarship organization with a total of $9 million endowed funds at YCCF. Annually these funds award $400,000 to hundreds of students across York County. See how scholarships helped grow a young York County leader.
After her lifetime, Isabel Anderson established the Robert R. Anderson Family Fund, YCCF’s first $1 million fund to sustain “the farming way of life” in York County.
Isabel grew up in the farming community of York County and though she became a professor at Temple University, she retained her love of our community. In the past 26 years, her gift generated more than $1.3 million in grants for scholarships to future farmers, best management practices on farms, and has helped preserve thousands of acres of land. While the farming life has evolved during this period, the Anderson fund will help ensure the beauty and bounty of York County continues.
Nonprofit Agency Endowments reach $5 million in assets that provide annual sustaining grants for operations.
Seven years after the first agency endowment was created by ACCESS-York, in 2000 there were 48 in total. Reliable, annual support from an organization’s endowment reduces the pressure on annual fundraising so charities can focus on delivering services. Today 157 nonprofit agencies hold their endowments at YCCF for a total of $30 million dollars. Imagine how transformative it would be if all nonprofits in York County could rely on annual grants from endowment to substantially support their good work?
The Codorus Watershed Fund was established with a $2 million payment from Glatfelter per a court decree that ordered investments to improve the health and environs of the Codorus watershed.
Advised by advocates for the Watershed, grants from the fund increased appreciation for the Codorus Creek as important to our water supply and as a valuable recreational asset by making it more attractive and accessible and by reducing harmful runoff into the creek. Today the creek is home to a variety of fish and wildlife and is no longer referred to as the ‘inky stinky’!
Received the largest gift to date when the Hahn Home transferred $7 million in assets to YCCF to create the Hahn Home Fund to benefit older adults.
In 1913, Anna L. Gardner bequeathed her estate to create the Hahn Home, a place where older women could live out their years in dignity. When the Hahn Home was sold, the proceeds of the sale were gifted to YCCF to carry on Anna’s legacy of improving the quality of life of older adults. The fund has awarded $1.4 million in grants to support the Embracing Aging initiative which is transforming how we think about aging, expanding services for older adults and creating tools to help elders live well as they age. Thanks to Embracing Aging, York County has been designated an Age-Friendly Community by AARP.
YorkCounts merged with YCCF to maximize and sustain efforts to drive for community change.
As a committee of the Community Foundation, YorkCounts advocated for bold, transformative changes such as consolidating police departments in York County to save costs and strengthen service. Funded the launch of the Communities in Schools Program to improve opportunities for students and boost academic performance. Raised awareness about the financial obstacles facing municipalities with the report Truth and Consequences: Municipal Fiscal Distress in Pennsylvania. Sustained the YorkCounts Indicators as a web-based data set of our community’s quality of life. yorkcounts.org
The Memorial Health Fund was established after the sale of the hospital to a private company. The Memorial Hospital Board partnered with YCCF to create our first supporting organization with $16 million to carry out the charitable mission of the hospital.
With its own board and with staff support from YCCF, the Memorial Health Fund is improving community health. Since its inception, it has awarded $3.5 million to multiple transformational projects such as the creation of a community health worker program through Family First Health and the establishment of a York County charitable food distribution network that is closing gaps in food distribution with the goal of ending hunger in York County.
To aid in community economic redevelopment, YCCF established the Social Impact Investment Fund by using its operating surplus.
The Social Impact Investment Fund invests in high-impact economic development projects through loans or equity investments that produce measurable community benefits and income to refuel the fund. Thus far, $775,000 invested by the Social Impact Fund has resulted in 52 new residential and commercial spaces in downtown York, approximately 183 jobs and will generate over $170,000 in annual tax revenue for the City.
Adapting and Innovating to continue to Fuel Transformation
For 60 years, YCCF has served as a catalyst for continuous learning and deploying best practices. Our research has shown that communities that work collectively on a common agenda developed with those impacted by the problems at the decision-making table, will achieve powerful and more sustained results.
That approach is now our mantra.
In 2020, we took meaningful steps to share our decision-making power. When we launched the York County COVID-19 Response Fund, we established advisory committees with our funding partners and agencies that were responding to the pandemic to guide the grantmaking process. When we launched the Racial Equity Fund, we asked community representatives of color to design the grant program and award grants.
Reflecting on YCCF’s history reminds us that creating a vibrant community takes visionaries, many voices and much generosity. Today, YCCF is redoubling our efforts to be the best partner for donors to support their passions; to be courageous, strategic grantmakers and collaborative leaders for systemic change. With our discretionary funds, we take on complex challenges that perpetuate disparities in our community and hold us all back from thriving. And we are devoting time and resources to weave diversity, equity and inclusion into every aspect of our work not only to increase our effectiveness but because it is the right thing to do.
It is astounding that generations of donors and community leaders built YCCF into the 4th largest community foundation in Pennsylvania. Stewardship of donor’s intentions is the bedrock of our work. The spirit of generosity is alive and well in York County and YCCF is here as to be the first choice for philanthropy.