The charitable fund Pearl C. Anderson created in 1955 still supports the community today
When Communities Foundation of Texas began in 1953, it was known as the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund. The first six-figure, major gift to the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund was in 1955 from Pearl C. Anderson.
Pearl was an African-American entrepreneur who opened a grocery store in a part of town that didn't have access to a grocery store. After paying the store off in 4 years and renting the store for a season, she sold the stock to pursue a career as a clerk. During that time, she met and married Dr. J.W. Anderson, a prominent local physician. In 1947, after 17 years of marriage, Dr. Anderson passed away.
Pearl grew up in rural Louisiana during the days of racial segregation and was prohibited from going to school until the age of 12, when a school for black children was finally built a few miles from her home. Every day, she would walk by a plaque that credited a foundation—the Rosenwald Fund—with establishing her school.
Pearl vowed that one day, she would pay back the debt she owed to those who made it possible for her to get an education. And she brought that dream to the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund with her gift to create the Pearl C. Anderson Fund at CFT. Pearl gifted a residual interest in a trust consisting of a prime piece of land in downtown Dallas valued at $325,000. All she asked was that the money from the eventual sale of the land was used to help “the poor, young people and other struggling people, without regard to their race or religion.”
In 1958, it was not enough for working mothers in Garland to find jobs; they also had the challenge of arranging oversight for their kids in a city without daycare facilities. Pearl was a longtime child welfare advocate and wanted to respond to this problem. Her fund at CFT helped create the Pearl C. Anderson Day Nursery in Garland. Offering daycare for preschool children ages 2-4, it was an immediate success, thanks to Anderson’s vision and dedication.
Today, we are still using the Pearl C. Anderson Fund to honor her wishes, keeping her promise to give back. Her legend still lives on—more than 65 years later—through her fund at CFT.
Grants made from her fund have supported nonprofits such as Educational First Steps to improve the quality and availability of early childhood education for economically-disadvantaged children in Dallas; and the S.M. Wright Foundation’s tutoring center, which provides free, one-on-one tutoring for South Dallas students.
In addition to her financial contributions to the Dallas community through her fund at CFT, Pearl also gave her time and energy to many organizations servicing those in need. During the 1950s she was a member of the board of the Council of Social Agencies, a member of the board of Maria Morgan YWCA, and a life member of the women’s auxiliary of Goodwill Industries. In 1956, Anderson was named Woman of the Year by the Kappa Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, and she was presented a community service award by the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club.
By the time Pearl received the National Achievement Award in 1962, the highest honor conferred by what was then known as the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, she had funded two scholarships, one of them at Southern Methodist University.
Pearl C. Anderson was the embodiment of what it means to be a philanthropist. Her story resonates deeply with so many because it points to our shared human experience; we are both the one in need of help and the one in a position to help. Pearl's desire to give back was born from an opportunity she was given as the result of someone else's generosity. It laid the foundation for a life dedicated to serving those in need. But it was Pearl's entrepreneurial spirit, smart financial abilities, and overall resilience that furthered her philanthropic impact across the Dallas community.
Learn more about Pearl's life and impact below:
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Pictured Above: Ms. Betty Curl has been tutoring children for over 40 years at the South Dallas "Top of the Class" Community Tutoring Center at S.M. Wright, that the Pearl C. Anderson fund at CFT supported. Her efforts have helped at-risk students succeed in school.