2023 Annual Report- Stone Canyon

The Power of Collective Giving

Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund
The Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund recently got some fantastic news from STEP, a nonprofit that supports highly motivated students from low-income families across Tucson. They learned that Daniel, one of the students supported by Stone Canyon’s recent grant to STEP, will be the first in his family to attend college. And not just any college: Daniel earned a full scholarship to Harvard University.

STEP is one of the dozens of organizations the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund has supported over the years, and Daniel’s success is one of many inspiring stories that let contributing members know they’re making a difference in the larger Southern Arizona region they call home.

Now 16 years on and stronger than ever, the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund — an all-volunteer initiative distinct from Stone Canyon Club, structured as a donor advised fund with the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona — has given some $3.6 million to Tucson-based nonprofits that serve their unwavering objective of “empowering youth to achieve their dreams.”

Origin Story
The Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund has a simple origin story. “There were four couples having dinner one night,” said Paul Snyder, who was one of those eight and is the current chair of the Fund’s advisory board. “A lot of us had been involved in not-for-profits and charitable giving before we’d moved here.”

The discussion turned to the significant need across Tucson — as much or more than in the cities and towns they’d moved from — and the idea arose of sharing their philanthropy with this new region they’d found and loved, pooling their giving in a collective fund. “The idea caught on,” Snyder said. “It grew from us four couples to about 10 in a few weeks, and it just kept going from there.”

To this day, however, the group’s focus and mission have never changed: The Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund supports nonprofit organizations focusing on positively impacting educational success, quality of life, and development of youth-in-need within the greater Tucson area.

Many of the founders were teachers or worked in education and knew of the long-range, compounded returns of investing in learning and wellness early in life. Snyder himself has always been inspired by the “pay-it-forward concept” and the idea that just one person can spark transformative change in someone’s life.

“When we hear about someone from Youth On Their Own who got a path to college and went on to become a wealth advisor at an asset management firm, or when we visit Casa de los Niños and see what they’re achieving — that’s how you see you’re making a difference,” Snyder said. “We’re not the sole provider to those organizations, but we help with their process, and I think our residents feel a great sense of pride that they’re having that impact and contributing to the Tucson community.”

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Achieving Longevity
There’s no secret sauce in the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund’s recipe for success. The magic comes from a mix of intentional ingredients, each complementing the effects of the others. For example, as certain responsibilities grew in scope, the advisory board formed committees to take on those needs. Many hands make light work, but the change also created new ways for more community members to be involved in the Fund without it taking over anyone’s life.

One of those committees is for events — another important ingredient to Stone Canyon’s success. Some events directly support their mission, such as bringing in leaders from nonprofits who speak to their work, or young adults who directly benefited from that work and share stories of changed lives, which affirms value for current participants and inspires others to join in. Other events feature speakers with special knowledge or experience — former race car drivers, war heroes, scientists who know the geology of Stone Canyon — to strengthen community bonds by bringing people together.

In recent years, the advisory board also established succession planning for leadership. The secretary or treasurer in a given year becomes that board’s vice chair the following year and chair the year after that. That person then continues serving at least one more year as immediate past chair. The arrangement creates a pipeline of leadership and balances the critical need for continuity with the equally important need for fresh ideas and perspective.

The Art and Science of Giving Back
Of course, the heart of the Fund’s endeavors is annual grantmaking — today, about 25 grants each year — and over time, that work has evolved to be a well-oiled machine. “The process begins with a user-friendly online platform that streamlines receiving and reviewing applications,” explained Rosemary Chansky, who currently leads the grants committee and has served as part of the group for 8 years.

That tool, in tandem with a clear evaluation rubric and simple numerical rating system, gives all committee members a way to identify the requests that best meet the Fund’s mission. There are, of course, some initial differences in opinion on that point. Committee members discuss. On occasion, particularly for applications from nonprofits new to the Fund, members will team up for a site visit to learn more and report back to the full committee what they learned.

The overall process produces consensus nearly 100 percent of the time. When everything has been vetted, the committee chair writes and delivers a report to the full advisory board, which then works out final decisions on awards and allocations, but it’s the convictions of the committee that carry the day.

“Members make very compelling cases for who we should fund and why, and in my opinion, that’s the beauty of the grants committee,” Chansky said. “Every application is evaluated by every member —that’s unusual. Everyone gets to voice their opinion, and it’s based on the relationships we’ve developed with these nonprofits.”

Chansky notes that she and others on the committee have visited and personally know almost every group that Stone Canyon supports. “They know what they’re doing because they’ve seen it with their own eyes,” Chansky said. “When you’re evaluating an application, you can read and read what’s written, but it’s still very different when you see it in action. It becomes a passion. No one ever leaves a site without saying, ‘Wow, that’s amazing. I’m so glad we give our money there.’”

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A Living Legacy
Today, the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund provides money for each year’s grant cycle with donations that community members contribute annually. On a parallel track, participants are also working to fully realize the Stone Canyon Community Legacy Fund.

Built mainly on pledged estate gifts, supplemented by direct donations, the Legacy Fund will ultimately allow the group to continue its annual giving without relying on annual fundraising. Instead, investment interest may provide a stream of capital for ongoing grantmaking.

The idea was first taken up by former community member Dan Regis, who’d had other experience working with endowments. When Regis left Stone Canyon, he passed that torch to Joel Chansky, who continues the work to this day in his role as vice chair of the advisory board. Standing at roughly $6 million, the initiative is well on its way toward meeting the group’s $10 million goal.

The job of building a legacy fund is new to Joel Chansky, but it is also a familiar role. He’s volunteered in various roles throughout his life, often behind the scenes, feeling a connection to the way Nelson Mandela likened good leadership to a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

“This is probably the first time that I’ve worked for a cause that’s aimed at helping a group that’s really in need,” Chansky said. “It’s meaningful, and when you hear some of the stories of how it’s helping people, it really makes it all worthwhile.”

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Partners in Impact
In action, the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund is neighbors and friends working together to make a difference. On the books, it’s a donor advised fund with CFSA. And where those two realities converge is a partnership built on shared trust, values, and goals.

“The idea of launching and running a foundation was
a little daunting,” said Cathy Earnest, immediate past chair of the Fund’s advisory board and one of its original proponents. “Most of us had just retired, and we were enjoying that lifestyle.” Former CFSA President and CEO Clint Mabie laid out the ways that forming a donor advised fund could achieve what the residents wanted to do while also greatly simplifying that undertaking. As a fund held at CFSA, all donations are tax-deductible, and the burden of bookkeeping and financial responsibilities stays with CFSA, allowing fund participants to focus on their philanthropic objectives.

Beyond getting a fund up and running, CFSA offers expertise, advice, and other services as needed, ranging from support in governance, to tapping into CFSA’s networks to connect with nonprofits across Southern Arizona, to formal and informal education.

Greater Good Ahead
The activities and impact of the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund are still evolving today. At the time of this writing, a small committee is nearly finished updating the group’s rolling strategic plan. A key area in that plan centers on how to engage new residents and adapt to changing demographics as younger couples and families move into the community — people familiar with the top-­rated golf course and the Stone Canyon Club but who might not know about the Fund and its contribution to Greater Tucson.

“We want to keep the Fund vibrant,” Earnest said, “And we want to make sure it represents the philanthropic wishes of the donors in the Stone Canyon community.” It’s no small task, but the advisory board is up for the challenge and confident in the collaborator at their side. “The people at CFSA have been fabulous partners,” Earnest said, “and I think our relationship with the Community Foundation has become stronger over the years. They’re always there to help, and they are very supportive of all the work that we try to do.”

Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund has been a steadfast supporter of the Educational Enrichment Foundation for many years. Their generosity allows us to continue addressing student needs in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), the largest district in Southern Arizona. Our programs reduce barriers and increase access to equitable opportunities for the 70% of TUSD students who qualify for federal free/reduced meals. In 2023, a grant from Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund paid the interscholastic fees for over 150 high school student athletes. Multi-year funding for these critical programs demonstrates Stone Canyon’s commitment to supporting our community’s students, making an impact in their overall health and academic success.

— Dawn Bell, Executive Director, Educational Enrichment Foundation

This is probably the first time that I've worked for a cause that's aimed at helping a group that's really in need. it's meaningful, and when you hear some of the stories of how it's helping people, it really makes it all worthwhile.

— Joel Chansky

Multi-year support from Stone Canyon has allowed Make Way for Books to serve thousands of children and families through Story School, our bilingual 10-week family education program in which every family receives a home library of at least 20 high-quality, bilingual, and multicultural children's books. Through Stone Canyon's support, Family Literacy Specialist led bilingual Story School sessions where children were immersed in sharing reading, movement, and activities focused on building their emergent literacy and language skills.

— Fernando Gonzalez, Interim Chief Operations Officer at Make Way for Books

Because of the generous support and partnership of our friends at the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund, Imago Dei Middle School students across all five grades continue to enjoy and benefit from structured play at Playformance, a play­based fitness gym in downtown Tucson. Visits to Playformance provide our scholars with the tools needed to develop leadership and teamwork skills, learn about sportsmanship and fairness, and burn off some energy. It’s also a lot of fun!

— Cameron F. Taylor, Head of School at Imago Dei Middle School

Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund has been a champion for teens experiencing homelessness since its founding 15 years ago. The Foundation’s most recent grant to Youth On Their Own (YOTO) in 2023 provided direct assistance to 437 unique YOTO youth, bringing their grand total to over 2,000 youth supported through their generous grant funding. Thank you, SCCF donors, for believing in YOTO youth and investing in their education!

— Elizabeth Slater, Chief Executive Officer at Youth On Their Own

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) is beyond grateful to Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund and its financial support. With their help, JA served more high school students from limited means than ever before in the Southern District.

Student impact:
• 89% found a career that matches their skills and interests.
• 72% learned of a new career pathway.
• 82% learned the requirements for their field of interest.

— Paloma L. Santiago, District Director at Junior Achievement of Southern Arizona
Organizations supported by The Stone Canyon Foundation Fund include:

Assistance League of Tucson
Arizona Children’s Association
Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation
Arizona Science Teacher Association
Arizona Youth Partnership
Aviva Children’s Services
Ben’s Bells
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs of Tucson
Boys To Men Tucson (BTMT)
Camp Wildcat
Casa de los Niños
Child & Family Resources, Inc.
Children’s Museum Tucson
Desert Dove Farm
Devereux Arizona
Earn to Learn
Easter Seals Blake Foundation
Educational Enrichment Foundation
El Grupo Youth Cycling
Flowing Wells Extension Program
Gabriel’s Angels
Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona
Goodwill of Southern Arizona
Higher Ground
Imago Dei Middle School
Interfaith Community Services
Junior Achievement of Arizona
Kids Animals Life and Dreams
La Paloma Family Services
Literacy Connects
Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest
Make Way for Books
Museum School for the Visual Arts
New Beginnings for Women & Children
Our Family Services
Painted Sky PTO- Thunderbird Resource Center
Parent Aid Child Abuse Prevention Centers
Project Access Inc.
San Miguel High School
Somali Bantu Association of Tucson Southern Arizona
Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI)
Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF)
Strength Building Partners
Student Expedition Program (STEP)
Sold No More
Sunnyside Unified School Foundation
Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services
The Edge School, Inc.
Touch Point Connection
TMM Family Services
Tucson Urban League
UA Center for Recruitment and Retention of Math Teachers
United Way
Wheel Fun
YMCA of Southern Arizona
Youth On Their Own