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Columbia Inspired

A New Era for Philanthropy in Howard County

Nov 14, 2021 05:18PM ● By Angela Davids

We often picture a philanthropist as a wise and imposing individual seated at a massive wooden desk with a sophisticated collection of books behind them. In 1969, when land developer Jim Rouse and other county residents created what is known today as the Community Foundation of Howard County, their vision of who could be a philanthropist was quite different. The foundation gave the average Howard County citizen an opportunity to donate to local organizations that would improve their community. 

The Community Foundation awarded its first grant to a local nonprofit in 1971. Here it is 50 years later, guided by its current mission to inspire lifelong giving and to connect people, places and organizations to worthy causes. It awarded more than $3.6 million in grants in 2020 to organizations focused on human service, arts and culture, education and civics.  

This year the foundation attracted the spotlight on three occasions, by appointing a new chair of the board of trustees, moving its headquarters to a historic location and publicly launching The Next 50 fundraising campaign.

Robin Sommer
MidAtlantic Photographic

A Change in Leadership

In September, the foundation named Kimberly Prescott chair of the board, following her two years as vice chair and prior role as board secretary. Prescott is the founder and president of Prescott HR, a human resources firm in Columbia.

“Kimberly is an energetic, dynamic leader,” says Dan Flynn, the foundation’s Director of Development, Marketing and Communications. “She is a successful entrepreneur and business owner, and she’s both well-respected and well-connected in our community. Kimberly believes anyone can be philanthropic. It’s not about your bank account, but about your mindset.”

She will support the foundation’s ongoing goals of attracting more applicants, leading community conversations, and integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) practices.

“As a person who did not grow up with or around money, I found the world of philanthropy to be intimidating,” says Prescott. “Now that I have a better understanding of philanthropy, I am able to help others understand it, embrace it and become philanthropists themselves.”

Mike Roth Photography

A Historic Move

Columbia’s Athol Manor distinguishes itself as one of Howard County’s oldest residential properties. Built in 1740 as a clergy house, its first resident, the Rev. James MacGill, brought indentured servants from Scotland and local slaves to construct the property.  He named the home “Athol” in tribute to his childhood home in Scotland.

Brightview Senior Living owned the property until it donated it to the foundation in 2018 and generously funded the building’s renovation, completed this year. Harkins Builders stayed true to the spirit of the building, preserving or replicating its most distinctive features while bringing it up to code. Dedicated this past October, the space was reimagined for its new purpose - offices and a public gathering space.  

Mike Roth Photography

With the 50th anniversary of the foundation in 2019, a campaign quietly began with a $1,000,000 goal to establish a permanent endowment to support the foundation’s core mission. The foundation announced the public stage of the campaign at its annual Spring Party in May, held virtually.

The Next 50 Fund  

The Next 50 Campaign is one of many funds supported by the foundation and is separate from funds supporting other community nonprofits. The foundation has reached 80 percent of its goal, with contributions from individuals, families and local business owners — just as the foundation’s originators intended. The Apple Ford car dealership in Columbia is the largest donor so far, with a $400,000 contribution. The foundation named its new headquarters The Apple Ford Center at Athol Manor in recognition of that gift. There are other naming opportunities for specific donation amounts, while donations of all sizes are welcome. The Community Foundation of Howard County is continuing to affect change in our community with its philanthropic efforts.

Article Cover: Mike Roth Photography

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