Last year, some newly arrived residents wanted to take part in the Discover Hartford Bicycling and Walking Tour but couldn't afford the entry fee. Organizers went to the Knox Foundation. The foundation quickly made a grant that allowed 150 riders and walkers to join 1,200 others in this festive and successful event.
For 40 years, community groups have gone to Knox for help, often when there were no other sources of funds. Knox has helped an incredible array of activities: canoe trips, youth theater, music, fuel assistance, college preparation programs, a book of poetry published by girls living in a shelter.
The foundation, founded in 1966, furthers the vision of activist and benefactress Betty Knox, who left most of her estate to beautify and renew the city.
In the early 1970s, during a period of little investment, the foundation allocated about half of its assets to stimulate downtown development. The Carousel in Bushnell Park was one of the projects resulting from this effort. In 1977, the foundation split into two, the Knox Parks Foundation taking over the horticultural beautification efforts — quite ably — and the Knox Downtown Foundation (now simply the Knox Foundation) focused on community-building.
The Knox Foundation was just named the "2008 Outstanding Foundation" by the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This a real honor for a small foundation whose total annual grants are in the $60,000 to $70,000 range.
But it's often easier to throw lots of money at a problem than to target a small amount of money where it will do the most good. Knox over the years has been able to use its money wisely. It's had bright and creative board members who have eschewed red tape, kept overhead to a bare minimum and made investments Betty Knox would have been proud of. To help a community, you don't have to be the Ford Foundation if you know what you're doing.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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