We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



A New Local

Having a place where donors—small and large—can pool money for charitable uses is a perfect fit for this most charitable state. At our founding in 1994, the Community Foundation followed a traditional community foundation model—transactional in nature—with donor gifts coming in and grants from those funds going back out again.

But over the last few years, the community foundation has seen a shift in how we work in and for our communities.

On the eve of our 25th year, we’ve been taking a deeper look at the places we serve, asking, “How can we make things better here?” How do we define our “community?” Several answers have risen to the surface. One, money always helps. To truly change a community, we must be deliberate about building philanthropy where we can and shepherding philanthropic money to the best and highest uses.

Our recent work has pinpointed challenges present in but hardly unique to our city. Indeed, mistrust and miscommunication often prevent progress. So, we see an overwhelming need to bring people together, convening those willing to double down to solve problems, creating space for meaningful conversations, and providing opportunities for community leaders to learn how to facilitate productive communication.

Realizing that community-based giving has the ability to transform, we also know we can’t do it alone. In addition to working with donors to maximize the impact of grant dollars, we must discuss what needs the community—indeed, our state—has. We intend to help craft partnerships and collaborative solutions to address those needs.

Thanks largely to a transformational gift, the Community Foundation has engaged over the past year in planning to have a more visible presence in our metropolitan area and our state, to step forward as a leader, and to look around use and head of us to intentionally change where we live. As part of this process, we have engaged in a name-change exercise, fulfilling a goal that has been in our strategic plans since 2009.

A larger vision for the Foundation, an increase scope in our philanthropic work, and our willingness to serve as a point of connection suggest a radical new name. No, we won’t tread on territory. Instead, we will create spaces and opportunities for community conversations, target grant dollars at specific, meaningful projects, and offer more people in more towns the ability to pool their resources for local needs.

Most important, we will work collaboratively and in partnership with our existing foundations to make sure every citizen can add to the philanthropic resources in their communities or create them where they don’t yet exist.

We deeply believe community foundations are the most democratic philanthropic institutions, bringing donors from all walks of life together to become the change they want to see—in community, in our state, in our world. We look forward to being For Mississippi. For Good. Forever.

Jane Alexander
President and CEO

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Amplifying Giving in Mississippi

The Community Foundation for Mississippi joined the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy and other community foundations across the state to advocate for the Endow Mississippi Tax Credit Program. After years of work, the program passed in the 2019 Legislature.

Endow Mississippi incentivizes philanthropy, encourages charitable giving, and builds on the strong tradition of neighbors helping neighbors in our state. The tax credit program provides a 25% tax credit to donors who give to permanent endowments at qualified Community Foundations.

Donors who give from a minimum of $1000 ($250 state tax credit) to a maximum of $200,000 ($50,000 state tax credit) to an endowment at a qualified Community Foundation are eligible for the credit. A total of $500,000 of tax credits are available annually.

After its first year, the program had a $2 million impact on charitable causes in the state.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund

Mississippi Museum of Art

We received a grant from the Community Foundation for Mississippi to renovate the Museum’s ‘creative corridor’ that extends from the Museum’s Art Garden to the Westin Hotel. The $180,000 gift from the Shackleford Fund transformed the corridor, now called The Art Alley, into a safe, well-lit, and tranquil path. Community foundations like the Community Foundation for Mississippi play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. By bringing together the resources of individuals and businesses alike, they support the arts, education, health care, and the general well-being of our communities.

Betsy Bradley, director, Mississippi Museum of Art

Oaks House Museum

The grant from the John F. and Lucy Shackleford Fund was given to make critical structural improvements to the Oaks House Museum and preserve this unique historic structure. The museum educates visitors about the early history of Jackson and provides educational programs in an environment that allows visitors to experience 19th-century life. The Community Foundation for Mississippi stimulates charitable giving for projects in our community and others nearby that all Mississippians can appreciate and enjoy.

Linda Thompson Robertson, volunteer, Oaks House Museum

Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery is unique in its role as Jackson’s oldest historic landmark and its original graveyard. The Shackelford’s extraordinary gift and the vision of beautification of downtown Jackson have been a game-changer. Funding for historic cemeteries is very hard to find. Donations to the Greenwood Cemetery Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi will ensure that improvements made now will be maintained in the future.

Cecile Wardlaw, president, Greenwood Cemetery Association

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Building on a History of Educational Investment

In 2018, the Community Foundation for Mississippi received a $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the efforts of the Better Together Commission to improve student outcomes in the Jackson Public School District (JPS). One of the primary roles of the Community Foundation is that of a facilitator and convener for people seeking to transform their community. We were excited to bring our experience serving the community and connecting people to the work of the commission. The 18-month grant to the Community Foundation provided administrative support to the commission while also supporting robust communications and community engagement, ensuring full transparency with the commission’s work and the inclusion of all JPS stakeholders in the process.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Making Community the Beneficiary

John Shackelford made his fortune in trees and lumber. So perhaps it’s fitting that, when he and his wife created a plan to leave a legacy, it included the Community Foundation for Mississippi. That’s because, since 1994, we have served as a place to grow philanthropy to build stronger communities. John and Lucy had deep roots in Mississippi and understood CFM’s role as a place to make the impact of their gift spread, branch out, and ultimately, inspire others to create legacies themselves.

A native of tiny Eden, Mississippi, John F. Shackelford grew up in another time and another place. He met and courted Lucy by visiting Jackson, the “big city,” to window shop and dream along Capitol Street. And though they retired to another state, their affection for Jackson never waned. After Lucy’s death in 2015, the Community Foundation received a bequest — half of their remaining estate — valued at $8.8 million. That’s a lot of trees. But more important was the example of making the community their beneficiary.

“This was an incredible, game-changing gift that clearly shows people can impact their communities long after they are gone,” says Jon C. Turner, board chair of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. “We hope this gift will inspire others across the state to consider leaving a legacy that will benefit the communities they loved in a very tangible way.”

Learn more about the grantees of the fund here.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Portraits of Philanthropy

Portraits of Philanthropy was a photographic project to document the people who are changing lives in our community – writing their own stories of philanthropy. All the stories began with an idea. And all of these people with ideas found their way to the Community Foundation for help turning ideas into real change – For Good. Forever.

These are people just like you, who realize: it doesn’t take millions to be a philanthropist — it takes purpose, passion, and a plan.

Asoka and Seetha Srinivasan and Don and Becky Potts each set up donor advised funds to focus their philanthropic vision into communities and causes they love. By using an easy and elegant — and accessible—tool for giving, they are thoughtfully shepherding their charitable resources and planning for the future. Ordinary people, extraordinary givers.

Dr. Alferdteen Harrison has fashioned a way to save two historic properties from destruction, to tell a little-told chapter of African-American history in the City of Jackson. Saving the structures means saving the story, which celebrates middle-class contributions to the life of our community. Her expertise in history, her ability to tell great stories, and her passion for the project have turned her into a fundraiser – marshaling resources of all types to share this story with all people.

Jim and Elta Johnston prioritized their community. Jim established a field of interest fund to support finding solutions to urban blight. Elta, lately chair of the board for the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, has used her time, talent, and resources to create a better life for women in our state. By taking a hands-on approach to their causes, giving time, recruiting talent, raising awareness as well as money, they create a portrait in giving that can inspire us all.

Robert St. John turned his passion for food into a mission to help the hungry in Mississippi. Through Extra Table, he and his team are reaching every region in Mississippi with a unique approach to assisting food pantries and soup kitchens. Executive Director Mike Dixon has channeled his calling for ministry into spreading the word about food deserts with solutions to solve them.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Friends of Thalia Mara Hall Fund

When the doors of newly renovated Thalia Mara Hall swung open on June 2, 2014, visitors were treated to a striking makeover, breathtaking not only for the aesthetics but also for the speed and efficiency with which it was accomplished. Built in 1968, Thalia Mara Hall is home to Ballet Mississippi, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Opera, and the International Ballet Competition. For decades, it has also been a sought-after venue for concerts, comedy shows, graduations, and Broadway-style plays. But in recent years it has begun showing its age, plagued by HVAC problems, roofing issues, and out-of-date design.

Recognizing the need to rehabilitate the structure before the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition, Entergy CEO Haley Fisackerly and a group of private and public sector stakeholders formed Friends of Thalia Mara Hall in early 2013. Their original intent was to form a non-profit organization and raise funds to help pay for the needed renovation. But the group was facing a very tight timeline with construction slated to begin in January 2014. Applying for 501(c)3 status from the IRS can take months, and establishing a new nonprofit can mean significant legal and accounting fees. Learning of their plans, CFGJ President and CEO Jane Alexander contacted Fisackerly and offered a solution — a designated fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. Within days, Friends of Thalia Mara Hall began soliciting donations. CFGJ became the fiscal agent so that the stakeholders could focus exclusively on fundraising.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dave Cannada

When a group of local business leaders started a mentoring program for high school students at their alma mater, they created something special. As enthusiasm for the program grew, they decided to start a scholarship fund as well and turned to CFGJ for help in establishing the Dave Cannada Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund honors the life of Dave Cannada, a Murrah High School graduate and student body president who died of leukemia in 1970.

Established by Dave’s classmates in the Murrah Class of 1968, the fund underwrites scholarships to be awarded annually to Murrah High School seniors. The idea to create a scholarship fund grew out of the successful Dave Cannada Mentoring Program at Murrah, in place since 2010.

Local business leaders who are also Murrah alumni meet regularly with students to explore a wide range of career options. Past topics include government and public service, nursing, education, medicine, small business, insurance, law, accounting, advertising, real estate, dentistry, banking, and the military.

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



For the Culture and Arts

The Meyer and Genevieve Falk Endowment Fund for Culture and Arts was born from Genevieve’s love for and commitment to the arts in Jackson. Genevieve left a bequest to benefit five arts organizations—Ballet Mississippi, Mississippi Museum of Art, Mississippi Opera Association, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and New Stage Theatre—in addition to any other arts organization the Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees identified as aligned with Genevieve’s philanthropic mission in the future.

Genevieve’s granddaughter, Lynn Crystal shared her perspective on the motivation and importance of leaving a legacy gift.

“I think the family’s commitment to being charitable comes from the Jewish tradition of charity, taking care of your community. I once heard a rabbi say that it is more important to care for your community than for your neighbor, and more important to care for your neighbor than yourself.”

We invite you to read a few stories and highlights from the past 30 years. While these stories provide a window into our history, they only represent a fraction of the work of our community partners, donors, and friends. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.



A Legacy of Giving 2009-2010

In 2006, Peggy Harris visited the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and brought with her a team of people—a CPA, attorney, and financial advisor—with the skills and experience to help her realize her philanthropic goals and honor the memory of her son. The Foundation helped Mrs. Harris establish a bequest to create the Thomas G. Ramey and Peggy Huff Harris Charitable Fund. From filling pantries to fulfilling the promise of public broadcasting, this endowed fund continues to support the charitable organizations closest to her heart and will continue to, for good. Forever.