Committed to Change: Community Foundation’s centennial cause for CTN, and us all, to offer thanks

by Justin Clupper

The anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I’d like to make a small change to Mead’s statement: Committed citizens can change their community. That’s what happened 100 years ago when a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens found value in the creation of a community foundation, designed to serve as a perpetual community trust.

Since that time, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne has brought lasting impact to our community in so many ways.

Personally, and selfishly, I’m extremely grateful for the Community Foundation’s role in our community. Over the years, since nearly the beginning, the Community Foundation has supported Community Transportation Network, the organization I have the privilege to lead.

They’ve provided consistent general operating support over the years, enabling us to do what we do best.

I’ll never forget when the pandemic began, the Community Foundation was in the middle of reviewing our annual operating grant. We didn’t anticipate our funds until late May or June.

Instead, the foundation fast-tracked the approval process and provided much-needed financial support. I’m sure we weren’t the only organization to experience that level of investment and support.

Over the past 22 years, the Community Foundation’s support of CTN has enabled us not only to increase our overall service but also to increase the standard of excellence with which we serve.

We’re able to drive safer, more dependable vehicles. And we’re able to respond to community needs in new and unique ways.

The Community Foundation has also grown in its role of holding donor-advised funds. Several families continue to support CTN financially through their donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation, either by giving directly to our operating budget or giving to our endowment at the Community Foundation.

CTN’s own endowment at the Community Foundation has created a pool of dollars to support riders who can’t afford the $5 fee to ride.

Whenever I speak with a rider about CTN, I ask what life would be like without our services – and it isn’t usually good. When I consider what our community would be like without the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, the outlook isn’t good.

We have a community of strong philanthropists, and I believe the 100-year history of the Community Foundation has had an impact on that.

Admittedly, as I considered this piece, I wasn’t thinking of Margaret Mead being the author of that quote. Instead, it comes from one of my favorite TV shows, “The West Wing.”

When President Josiah Bartlet is gathered with his senior staff, and he quotes Mead, I imagine the start of the Community Foundation as appearing similarly: a group of leaders gathered in a room realizing that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Justin Clupper is executive director of CTN.