CREATE: Northeast Mississippi's Community Foundation Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder serves 17 counties in Northeast Mississippi and is the oldest community foundation in Mississippi. Areas of support are education, community development, and children and families.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, community development, quality services for individuals, families and children 

IP TAKE: CREATE has an unrestricted endowment for donors who don’t specify a cause, for which the board awards grants to regional charities. Get familiar with CREATE’s regional reports to understand the priorities of the foundation and its likely donors.

PROFILE: Northeast Mississippi’s Community Foundation, now known as CREATE, was established in 1972 by the late Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal publisher, Georgia McLean, and his wife, Anna. It is the oldest community foundation in the state, and became the sole stockholder of Journal Publishing Company Inc. upon their deaths. CREATE has staffed this foundation since 1995.

This foundation has four program areas: regional capacity building, endowment building, financial administration and targeted grantmaking. In terms of grantmaking, CREATE funds local charitable causes in education, community development and quality services for individuals, families and children.

These are the Mississippi counties that CREATE supports: Alcorn, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Clay, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Lowndes, Marshall, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union. In addition to gifts and targeted grantmaking, it also manages charitable funds by donors, and builds permanent community endowment assets. It strives to lead the community on key issues, and strengthens community development capacity in the region.

Like many other community foundations in the Southeast, CREATE works with local affiliates to address issues of concern to individual communities. CREATE provides $100,000 challenge grants to upstart Community Affiliates, which must raise $200,000 in unrestricted endowed funds to receive grants. These funds are raised and allocated by local residents, providing permanent assets to address local community needs. There are around a dozen Community Affiliates at work in their counties.

Youth development is an important cause for CREATE, which developed a youth foundation (NEMYF) in 2001 to give 11th and 12th grade students in the region the opportunity to serve on a youth-directed foundation board. There are around 50 students on the board at any given time that live and go to school in the 17 counties of Northeast Mississippi. The students have raised over $100,000 for their endowment fund and submit grant ideas from their counties to put up to a vote. In a recent year, the student board awarded $3,329 to regional nonprofits. You can see a list of recently awarded youth foundation grants on the funder’s website.

Unfortunately for local grantseekers, there is no application process in place to accept unsolicited grant requests for any CREATE funds. General questions can be directed to the staff at 662-844-8989. You can sign up for the foundation’s monthly newsletter to keep up with what it’s doing in Northeast Mississippi.

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