Last night saw the Foundation celebrate its quarter century milestone, marking a whopping £20 million awarded to almost 6,000 projects across the region. Since its inception on Valentine’s Day in 1995, the charity has put the community at the heart of its giving.
From Bilston to Birmingham, Sandwell to Solihull, the Heart of England Community Foundation has spent the past 25 years supporting projects that tackle key issues across the West Midlands. Last year alone saw the charity award a grant total of £2.3million to 760 projects, which is anticipated to benefit 330,589 people in area. The charity also reached a major milestone in 2019, doubling its annual giving by awarding three charities a total of £3.1million as part of its first capital grants programme. Building Better Lives is the largest-ever grants programme the foundation has created and marked a real step-change; this will be evidenced in the next set of accounts.
Commenting on the 25th anniversary, Chief Executive Tina Costello, said:
“Every year sees the Heart of England Community Foundation grow from strength to strength; we started out awarding just £2000 in our first year and to think that we’re now way into the millions is incredible. In this time the Foundation’s endowment has also grown from £1,500 to over £13 million!
“All our grants have a significant, direct impact on local communities across the West Midlands. For us, the small projects needing just a few hundred pounds are still just as important as the larger grants that we give.
“That said, it’s so apt that we celebrate our quarter century on the back of the Building Better Lives launch. It’s a massive programme for us, which will have such a significant impact on the three charities awarded – St Basils, Women’s Aid and YMCA Birmingham – helping to house vulnerable people. As well as this direct impact, though, Building Better Lives demonstrates the essence of the charity and our ability – and dedication – to creating and managing tailored grants and funds. We’re proud that as we grow we’re even more able to provide a unique service to donors. A huge thank you to everyone who has been part of the charity’s history and everyone that will be part of the future too!”
Back in 1994, Heart of England Community Foundation awarded just five grants; North Warwickshire Access Group, Coventry & Warwickshire Community Safety Scheme, Coventry Bangladesh Centre, Leamington African Caribbean Centre, and Lighthorne Heath Village Hall. These grants helped communities with everything from much-needed equipment to core transport enabling the groups to grow; all of which helped the funded projects serve purpose for their communities.
Throughout the years, the Foundation has pledged support to many community groups in the area. One of which is Foleshill Woman’s Training, which received its first grant in 2001 and most recent in 2019. Christine McNaught, Chief Executive of Foleshill Woman’s Training, said:
“Heart of England Community Foundation has been such an important supporter of ours. They have helped to support the growth of our organisation for over two decades and we are so thankful for the opportunities that has afforded us. Congratulations to the team!”
Christine McNaught supported the Foundation, appearing in a video that was aired on the night which looked back at their working relationship. A chance for friends, supporters and donors to gather and mark the milestone also see a performance from the Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer’s choir and a break-dancing duo Andrei & Marius from MDK & Breakdots, all of which have been supported though the Foundation.