Seven local businesses, five in Sewanee and two in Monteagle, combined forces to raise over $3,800 to support community philanthropy on the Mountain.
The project was organized and launched by SCCF board member Eddie Krenson, of Monteagle, with the able guidance of Jimmy Wilson, proprietor of the Blue Chair and a member of the Sewanee Business Alliance. “Look, my dad taught me to give back 10 fold,” said Wilson. “When times are bad, be the widow who gives her small amount. At other times, be more generous. I’ve seen the good that SCCF has done, and I wanted to be part of something productive on the Mountain, and I wanted to help launch this effort.”
Participating businesses contributed to the fundraiser by either collecting donations at point of sale or contributing a percentage of net revenue over a defined period of time. For the pilot, that span was the week of Sewanee’s Homecoming.
“We are thrilled with the results of the pilot,” said Krenson. “The generosity of the participants was really inspiring, and we also learned a lot about how to organize an effort that will help build our community of donors.”
Contributions to the South Cumberland Community Fund provide a foundation for a competitive grant program, and non profit organizations on the South Cumberland Plateau are eligible to apply. The program has two rounds: a spring round assessed by a grants committee made up of local residents, and a fall round that is part of an innovative philanthropy internship program where Sewanee students learn the basic operations of philanthropy by shadowing the grants committee and studying philanthropic theory.
In 2021, SCCF made grants of approximately $120,000 to 14 local nonprofits.
SCCF also supports a Community Development Program in partnership with the University of the South, working alongside community partners to build the capacity of the local government and nonprofit community. SCCF supports the costs of training and strategic planning to strengthen nonprofits and both the University and SCCF support a Community Development Director and a VISTA program that provides local organizations with capacity building support.
“We are really hoping to build our community of business partners in shaping really important community development work on the Mountain,” said Krenson. “We are deeply grateful to the businesses that helped us in 2021 on this proof of concept. We learned a great deal, and are eager to build on the project in 2022.” Krenson plans to have an annual business outreach and plans to expand it to other communities on the Plateau.
The following businesses contributed to the 2021 business outreach project:
Blue Chair Café, Bakery, and Tavern
Oakes & Oliver’s Modern Mercantile
Lynn Stubblefield with University Realty