Opportunity of a Lifetime

The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies has been at the forefront of economic and community development in Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties for over 25 years. More money than ever before is passing between generations. This transfer of wealth gives us an unprecedented opportunity to impact our hometowns. We’re calling on everyone to consider taking part in transforming this region and its future.

The Tribune-Democrat published the following editorial October 16th, by CFA President & Executive Director Mike Kane:

5% = TOTAL REBOOT

Johnstown is at a crossroads. We face potentially dire challenges. But we also have extraordinary resources. It’s time to choose what we do with those resources.

USA Today recently reported Johnstown is the 3rd fastest shrinking city in the country, driven mostly by “outward migration.” In short, more young people are moving away than staying: you, your children, grandchildren, and their friends – the very people we need to keep here.

How do we keep them? We at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies believe it starts by making this the place we all want to live. We do that by supporting our civic leaders and helping them find ways to provide the services we all deserve. We do that by helping to expand our cultural arts institutions, feeding our souls, and enriching our humanity. We do that by funding a wide variety of programs: getting children off the streets and into a fun, safe space when they’re not in school; cleaning up the environment; and training the next generation to be part of a technology-led, global workforce.

Our grantees are making important progress. The Discover Downtown Johnstown Coalition has put up a Christmas tree in Central Park so that families have a reason to visit. Entrepreneurial Alchemy brings business leaders, ideas, and resources together for grass-roots economic development. Vision 2025 combines the brightest minds in the country to help Johnstown find its way forward.

We all do our part when we try new restaurants, shop locally, engage with community art projects and festivals, or join in innumerable 5ks and golf outings to support important local causes. We need to do more.

We have a lot going for us: a rich history, breathtaking landscapes; good local colleges and robust job training programs; extraordinarily low costs of living. Our people. Talented people, with great ideas and energy to match, who want to see this area thrive.

Our challenges are well documented: a drug epidemic that knows no socioeconomic boundaries; higher-than-national-average unemployment, with no large-scale employers on the horizon; blight; shrinking government support.

Nobody is coming to save us. We have to do it ourselves. And we have everything we need to make it happen.

Unless you’re a financial planner, or someone who follows the economy closely, you may not know we’re in midst of the largest “transfer of wealth” in history. What’s that? It’s the money changing hands from Baby Boomers to Generation X. As older generations pass on, they’re also passing on an unprecedented amount of money. In Cambria County alone, that’s $2.2 billion over the next ten years.

Imagine what could happen if a tiny percent – say, 5 – were set aside to do good? Five percent over the next ten years, just here in Cambria County, amounts to well over $100 million. A Hundred Million Dollars. Structured well, that’s money that could do good in perpetuity. That means it doesn’t just get spent and go away. It can help forever.

This is a call to action. We’re looking at an historic opportunity at precisely the time we need it. The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is uniquely positioned to help facilitate that change. We’re a lot of things to a lot of different people and organizations. We provide grants; we administer scholarships. We create partnerships. We work with people who want to put their own personal resources into their communities by putting in place the financial tools and relationships they need to be successful.

5,000 donors impacted their communities this year through Foundation administered funds. People just like you and me. They’re your neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Some of them have more money than you, but not all of them. What sets them apart is what they choose to do with it.

With the end of the year looming, some of us are meeting with wealth advisors and already know about tax breaks enacted this year to encourage charitable giving. But most of us aren’t even thinking about it. If we do, we think we’re too young or don’t have the resources. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the months ahead, you’ll hear a lot more from the Foundation about the transfer of wealth, estate planning, and philanthropy. We’re working with financial planners to bring you the latest tools in charitable giving, to not only make it easier for you, but to make it cost-effective. We’re working with business leaders and community activists to see where our spending can have the greatest impact. The transformation is under way.

Think about your financial plan. Think about your legacy. Think about the impact that five percent will make if we all participate. Together, we’ll make sure it takes us where we want to go.

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