Founded in 1953 as Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund, the history of Communities Foundation of Texas tells an important story about where we have been and where we are headed.
With the support and involvement of several well-known Dallas business leaders during the mid-20th century, the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund was created in July 1953 as a safety net for social-service agencies in Dallas.
Those leaders included Dallas attorney Paul Carrington, along with Fred M. Lange, J.L. Latimer, Henry S. Miller, Sr., and Harold F. Volk. Other early leaders were Charles S. Sharp, Russell H. Perry, William H. Seay, Maxwell A. Clampitt and George P. Cullum, Jr.
The first gift to the Trust Fund was $10,000 worth of stock from Algur H. Meadows, the successful oil and gas businessman, arts patron and philanthropist whose family fortune had been the basis for creating the private Meadows Foundation earlier in 1948.
Not long after the Meadows gift, Pearl C. Anderson made the first six-figure gift to the Trust Fund in 1955 when she donated her future interest in a parcel of land in downtown Dallas that was valued at $325,000. Mrs. Anderson, the widow of a prominent African-American physician and civic leader, strengthened the organization's early commitment to support programs and institutions that help individuals throughout the community.
In 1974, W.W. "Will" Caruth, Jr., established the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation as a supporting organization at Communities Foundation of Texas, adding a new chapter to the Caruth family's historic legacy of pioneer farming and land acquisition. Through the years, Will Caruth shared much of his fortune with others through CFT and helped CFT improve the Dallas community where his family had lived since 1848. He had a preference for giving to transformative projects (or programs) in the areas of education, public safety, and medical and scientific research.
His wife, the late Mabel Peters Caruth, continued his tradition in 2003 with an inspiring bequest for the purpose of purchasing the original Caruth Homeplace and surrounding property and funding the construction of the new CFT headquarters.
Through the years, we have taken on some of this region's more challenging needs by understanding our donors' charitable intent and connecting them with organizations making a positive difference. The name change from Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund to Communities Foundation of Texas in 1981 reflected the broader scope of the foundation's current impact. We are now one of the largest community foundations in the nation in terms of assets managed, gifts received and grants awarded.
For more than a half-century, we have helped donors find ways to give effectively while enjoying significant tax advantages. The approach continues to work today with grants that have provided lifesaving medical equipment, protective gear for Dallas Police officers, significant financial support for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, mental health services in West Dallas and master planning funds for a new Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The foundation's evolution over the past half-century has been dramatic, but our commitment to know our donors and make good grants remains the same.