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MOUNT VERNON – During the first quarter of 2021, in its 77th year, the Knox County Foundation reached the significant milestone of managing more than $100 million in charitable assets.

In total, the Foundation awarded more than $6.5 million in grants, scholarships and other charitable distributions throughout Knox County in 2020. 

In 2014, the Foundation board, under the leadership of then-chair Karen Buchwald Wright and at the suggestion of board member Kim Rose, set what at the time seemed to be an audacious goal -- to reach $100 million in total assets by 2024.

At the time, total assets held by the Foundation were valued at approximately $54 million. Now, a mere seven years later, that goal has become a reality.

While many factors led to this point, including the overwhelming generosity of Foundation donors and other philanthropic partners, dedicated service by Foundation board and staff members, and the steady leadership of Sam Barone, executive director for nearly two decades, perhaps the most significant impact has been made by the Foundation’s New Philanthropy Program, made possible by Ariel Corporation, which provides matching funds to qualifying gifts. 

"This is a landmark achievement for all of Knox County to celebrate," said Jeffrey Scott, who was named executive director in 2020. No one person or staff team or board can take credit for something like this, and certainly not an executive director who just got started last year.

"Rather, this has been a decades-long journey, and it is incredibly humbling and inspiring to realize what the thousands of donors, board members, investment managers and others have been able to achieve by partnering with Knox County Foundation over that period of time." 

Total assets include all funds held by the Foundation such as:

· Community Impact funds, which provide unrestricted resources for the Foundation’s competitive grantmaking program;

· Donor Advised Funds, which make charitable grants recommended by fund advisors;

· Scholarship Funds, which award scholarships to Knox County students;

· Agency Endowment Funds, which are held on behalf of local nonprofit entities for their philanthropic purposes; and

· Supporting Organization Funds, which operate as an independent entities, but under the oversight of Knox County Foundation. 

Having a larger charitable asset base will mean the Foundation will be able to award additional and larger grants and scholarships.

It can also distribute additional unrestricted dollars for more and larger competitive grants and strategic initiatives. Most importantly, it can shepherd an even larger permanent endowment for the community ensuring the Foundation’s important mission will continue far into the future.

“Knox County is blessed in so many ways, and this milestone is a good reminder of the deep and rich legacy of giving and community support we all share and benefit from, especially after the year we have all been through,” said Scott.

Since early 2020, in addition to its regular philanthropic programs, the Foundation began distributing emergency COVID relief funds to support local nonprofit organizations providing essential services through the pandemic, provide personal protective equipment where needed, and to arrange for Knox County daycares and preschools to re-open and remain open safely. 

The Knox County Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Knox County through charitable giving; to provide a vehicle for donors of varied interests to support charitable and community activities; to assess and respond to emerging and changing community needs and to develop a permanent endowment for the community and to serve as a catalyst for a variety of projects. Visit or follow the Foundation on Facebook for more information.

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