The Girls Scouts Council staff is out in force during Give Big Kern 2018 to draw people for their fundraiser. 

In just a few short weeks, 2019 will come to a close. But before the champagne corks pop and we launch into raucous renditions of “Auld Lang Syne,” I encourage you to push the pause button and digest Kern Community Foundation’s Philanthropy Year in Review.

You see, 2019 has been a year of groundbreaking accomplishments and internal reflection at the foundation.

We remain committed to “Growing Community, Growing Philanthropy” – supporting local philanthropists with their community giving while simultaneously strengthening nonprofit organizations and increasing educational attainment in Kern County – and to that end, here are some highlights: Rob and Judi McCarthy made the largest gift from an individual or family in our foundation’s history – $2.5 million to the Robert and Judith McCarthy Family Fund. And just this month, they committed $1 million of this historic gift to the foundation’s operating reserves, ensuring long-term sustainability and community giving.

Our fourth annual Give Big Kern proved to be the best ever, setting new records in every metric – raising $430,000, engaging nearly 3,000 unique donors and hundreds of volunteers who pledged almost 90,000 in volunteer hours, while also receiving our first-812ever Beautiful Bakersfield Award in the category for creating “A Better Bakersfield.”

Within weeks of the devastating earthquakes that rocked East Kern County in July, the foundation raised and distributed nearly $115,000 to eight deserving nonprofits for emergency-response and social-service infrastructure rebuilding.

We remain committed to increasing educational attainment in Kern County, awarding $428,000 to 250 new and continuing college students.

Our first cohort of nonprofits successfully completed Jumpstart, a unique fundraising technical assistance grant program in partnership with Network for Good and the Kern County Board of Supervisors, with renewed funding secured for a second cohort in 2020.

Last, but certainly not least, Kern Community Foundation celebrated a milestone anniversary this year: 20 years of supporting Kern County’s endless giving spirit! Beginning with a dedicated group of visionary community leaders in 1999, Kern Community Foundation has grown to include more than 160 funds, established by individuals, families, corporations and even nonprofit organizations, totaling $25 million in assets – most of which will be used to make an impact on our community for generations to come.

Perhaps even more impressive is our fundholder grantmaking over the past 20 years – nearly $24 million has been disbursed to a wide variety of nonprofits, schools and religious organizations, the vast majority right here in Kern County.

With an eye toward a future that looks amazingly bright for Kern Community Foundation, our board and staff are committed to pioneering opportunities to shift our community’s giving spirit from transactional charity to transformational philanthropy, while remaining grounded in the vision of our founding board of directors. Hats off to Morton Brown, Bruce Bunker, Noel Daniels, Curtis Darling, Joan Dezember, Claude Kimball, Ginger Moorhouse, Marjorie Rump and Mary Lou Thompson for the commitment and courage to envision something that could create such lasting community change. We are inspired by your leadership and energized by Kern County’s response.

Kristen Beall Watson, Ed.D., is the president and CEO of Kern Community Foundation. She can be reached at Kristen@kernfoundation.org or 661-616-2601. The views expressed are her own.

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