LAKELAND, FL (April 11, 2023) – GiveWell Community Foundation fundholders and community partners recently celebrated the community foundation’s 25th anniversary at the Toast annual event at the Bonnet Springs Park Event Center.

Our silver jubilee provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come in the years since Jack Grady first championed the idea of forming a community foundation in Lakeland. He, along with 17 other founders, understood the importance of giving back and how the community foundation could serve as a tool helping to tackle emerging challenges while providing mechanisms for sustainable support. Through their efforts, the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland was formed in 1997, after which the foundation quickly grew in both assets and annual giving. By 2003, the idea had spread across the county when a group of leaders in Winter Haven formed the Community Foundation of Greater Winter Haven. Then, in 2014, the two organizations merged to create the GiveWell Community Foundation and serve all of Polk County as well as Highlands and Hardee.

And today, we continue to grow in a way that we hope would make our founders proud. Over the last 25 years, we’ve granted more than $400 million to thousands of nonprofits; our staff has mentored countless local organizations to equip them with the skills necessary to run vibrant, impactful nonprofits; word has spread and we now manage more than 400 charitable funds; we’ve leaned into our role as collaborators, working with United Way of Central Florida to establish a disaster relief fund for the community as well as conduct a tri-county community needs assessment – data from which will inform our future efforts on how to collectively leverage our resources for the greatest community impact; and so much more!

Our Toast annual celebration of philanthropy event was made possible thanks to the coordination of GWCF’s events committee members as well as the generous support of our event sponsors: Bank of Central Florida, Gray Robinson, Allen & Company, Publix Super Markets, CliftonLarsonAllen, CAPTRUST, Rodda Construction, the Attaway family, and the Masters family.

Logo of the Toast event
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