The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County logo
January 2020 Edition
"We are all creatures of our upbringings, our cultures, our times." ~ Oliver Sacks, M.D. 1933-2015 Author, Neurologist

Dear Members of The Community Foundation Family,

As Oliver Sacks has referred in the quote above, our culture and our times impact all of us in so many ways. Here at the Foundation, we keep an eye on the emerging and changing needs of our communities and the opportunities for working in concert with our nonprofit and community leaders. 

During these challenging times we are honored to join with you to have a positive impact across San Luis Obispo County and beyond. Looking to the future we will continue our mission to improve and enhance our philanthropic impact and continue to lift up those who needs the most assistance. 

Throughout 2019, your collective generosity made it possible for the Foundation to award more than 600 grants and scholarships that amounted to more than $2.8 million. We continued to grow our Foundation Family by awarding more grants, inviting more community members to review grant and scholarship applications, welcoming new Donor Advised Funds and providing educational events for our donors such at the "In Our Backyard". 

Our exceptional 2019 speaks to your care and commitment to our community and we couldn’t be prouder to be your partner in philanthropy. 

Warmly and with appreciation,

Heidi H. McPherson
Chief Executive Officer
Spotlights and Highlights
New Director of Grants & Programs

The Community Foundation recently welcomed Cassandra Wagner as the Director of Grants and Programs. Cassandra's prior experience in grantmaking, program development and involvement in building local partnerships to catalyze positive change makes her the perfect addition to The Community Foundation team.

Cassandra recently served as a Grants Officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She has also served as Program Officer for Scholarships and Grants at Humboldt Area Foundation, a community foundation in northern California. In that role, she led the grantmaking process working with community-based nonprofits and county leadership. She received her BA in Psychology and History from the University of Hawaii and is a graduate of Advanced Program Management at Stanford University.

“Cassandra comes to the Foundation with a wealth of knowledge about the needs of nonprofits and the important impact of grantmaking in the community” said Heidi McPherson, CEO of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. “Her experience and enthusiasm will be an asset to our team as we continue to grow and support the needs of San Luis Obispo County.” 

Cassandra Wagner, Director of Grants & Programs
General Grants Program Opens January 31

The Foundation's grants program provides a diverse range of opportunities for nonprofit organizations that directly address community needs identified by local needs assessments. The grant program consists of three grant cycles: Community Needs, Community Focus and Community Strength. Each of these focus on various program and interest areas. Our spring 2020 grant cycle will become available on January 31st and will close on March 31st at 5pm. For more information about our grant opportunities, please visit our website.

The Community Foundation Spring 2020 Grants
Providing Emergency Support Across the World

We have heard from donors asking how they can provide support during this time of crisis to support the Australian wildfires and Puerto Rico earthquakes. With the help of Center for Disaster Philanthropy, you can follow these disasters and consider supporting other areas of need across the world, like the flooding in Indonesia and Mozambique as well as the typhoon in the Philippines.

Australian Community Philanthropy, the network for community foundations, has said that thirteen (13) Australian Community Foundations have been directly or indirectly impacted by the fires.

How to directly support to Australia

  • GlobalGiving’s Australian Wildfire Relief Fund is a U.S. intermediary that can help you channel donor advised funds or organizational donations to support Australia.
  • Center for Disaster Philanthropy has a website dedicated to the fires and how to help.
  • Direct giving to Australian community foundations can be made through international grants if you desire to impact a specific location within the country.

Fundación Communitaria de Puerto Rico CEO, Dr. Nelson Colón reported thousands are in shelters across Puerto Rico due to recent earthquakes. Significant damage was done to infrastructure and cultural sites, and thousand sleep in shelters or outdoors for fear of additional tremors.

How to directly support to Puerto Rico

Contact our Donor Services Coordinator Cecelia Mazelin for assistance with a Donor Advised Fund transfer at or 805-543-2323.
Fires across Australia
Scholarship Applications Accepted until February 2
The Community Foundation’s Scholarship Program was established in 2000 by generous individuals, families, businesses and organizations to ensure students have the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams. We administer a variety of scholarships for high school seniors, college and re-entry students. Annually awarding 60 scholarships totaling more than $250,000, each scholarship has individual criteria, deadline and requirements. The deadline for most of our scholarships applications will be Sunday, February 2. Please share this information with local high school students.
2019 Weyhrich Leaderships Honorees
Foundation Profile: Dr. Ben & Pat McAdams
Honoring the past, supporting the present, while encouraging the future. Preserving the memory of a loved one honors the past, fuels the present and, most importantly, influences the future. More than 10 years ago, when Dr. Ben & Mrs. Pat McAdams lost their daughter, Kelly, they transformed the tragedy into an opportunity to keep the memory of her alive through a gift that would provide support to graduating high school students.In seeking a community partner to assist with this vision, they found The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. Through this collaboration, The Kelly A. McAdams Memorial Scholarship Fund was born, and today has offered almost $90,000 in financial support to graduating high school seniors across San Luis Obispo County. 

Read more about Ben and Pat McAdams and the Kelly A. McAdams Memorial Scholarship Fund online here. 

Ben, Pat and Kelly McAdams
The Kelly A. McAdams Memorial Scholarship was founded by Kelly's parents, Dr. Ben and Patricia McAdams, as a way to support area youth while honoring the memory of their daughter.
Nominate a Woman of Distinction by February 7
Cuesta College and The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County Women’s Legacy Fund are excited to announce open nominations for the prestigious 2020 Annual Women of Distinction Awards. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate Women’s History Month (March) and recognize the contributions women have made in the areas of volunteering in the community, their profession and in philanthropy.

The four award categories accepting nominations are:
•    Progress for Women
•    Community and Public Service, Professional
•    Community and Public Service, Volunteer
•    Grace N. Mitchell Lifetime Achievement

There are many women across San Luis Obispo County who work tirelessly helping others, in their professional careers and personal lives, so we encourage the community to nominate those women who go above and beyond to make our county great. For a list of previous honorees click here. Submit your nomination by selecting the appropriate category above before the February 7 deadline.

The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 19, 2020, from 4-6 p.m. at Cuesta College. Tickets for the event are available online after February 3 here. For more information on the awards visit
Women of Distinction
You can make a difference!
The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County is a grantmaking and education foundation that provides support to charitable organizations throughout our county. For more than 20 years, the Foundation has provided more than $35 million in grants and scholarships and our charitable assets under management have grown to $60 million, and provide support to all aspects of our community in perpetuity. For further information or to donate to any fund, please call 805-543-2323.
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The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County
550 Dana Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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