Heritage Community Foundation (HCF) is a 501(c)(3) that provides a better way to support local nonprofit groups focused on making a difference in the lives of people in its communities. The non-profit entity is funded mostly by its employees and 100% of operation costs by The First Bank. To-date, HCF has provided $881,000 in grant awards to more than 150 non-profit groups.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HERITAGE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
A few years ago, Heritage Bank CEO Leonard Moreland was serving on the board of directors for a nonprofit free healthcare clinic in Clayton County. The clinic was experiencing significant financial challenges and Mr. Moreland began to look for funding for the good work of the clinic from several charitable agencies in the area. To his dismay, he found out that even though these charitable groups support good works, they each had a lengthy and complex application and approval process that had to be navigated before the nonprofit group would find out if it would receive any funds. He was told that it may take 18 months to two years to go through the application process. Unfortunately, the clinic needed additional funds in the next month or they would not be around in two years. The clinic had to lay off healthcare providers and other staff members which, in turn, reduced the services the clinic could offer those in need. It was a very frustrating situation.
Mr. Moreland believed there had to be a better way to provide support to local nonprofit groups engaged in good works focused on making a difference in the lives of people in the area. He began talking to Heritage Bank leaders and employees about the possibility of Heritage Bank forming its own charitable Foundation. His aim was for Heritage Bank employees to provide meaningful financial resources for local nonprofit groups in Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties. He envisioned a decision-making board that would be made up from a cross-section of Heritage Bank employees and believed this group could streamline the application and grant approval process for nonprofit groups requesting funds. The vision of directing charitable resources to help nonprofits in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties was embraced by Heritage Bank leaders and its employees. The Heritage Community Foundation, Inc. was formed. The Foundation applied for and received a 501(c) 3 status from the IRS and the Heritage Community Foundation began its charitable work in January of 2014.
The initial funding came from Heritage Bank employees. In the first year (2014) every single employee of Heritage Bank donated to the newly formed Foundation. Additional funds came from Heritage Bank as they matched their employee’s contributions. The Foundation also had a few local businesses donate and the Foundation hosted a fundraising golf tournament. All of the efforts paid off as the Heritage Community Foundation gave $72,363 to 27 different nonprofit organizations in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties in its first year of existence! The Foundation used a streamlined application process and made decisions quickly, just as Mr. Moreland envisioned.
A unique aspect of the newly formed charitable Foundation is that 100% of the operating costs are paid by Heritage Bank! This support from Heritage Bank allows for every dollar donated to the Heritage Community Foundation to be invested in improving the community. This arrangement continues today as Heritage Bank generously underwrites all of the Heritage Community Foundation’s operating costs.
The work of the Heritage Community Foundation grew in 2016 as it provided grants totaling more than $118,000 to 36 nonprofit groups in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties. Again, the generosity of Heritage Bank and its employees made a huge difference in the area.
During 2017, the Heritage Community Foundation expanded its reach by inviting businesses in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties to become “IMPACT Partners” with the Foundation. The IMPACT Partners donate a minimum of $600 per year to the work of the Foundation and the average donation from this group is $3,800 per year! Also, in 2017, the Foundation reached out to generous individuals in the community and asked them for their financial support. The Foundation formed the “Heritage Society” which requires a minimum annual gift of $500. We are grateful for the response as we received our largest individual donation in the amount of $10,000!
The Heritage Community Foundation has accomplished remarkable work in a very short period of time and provided financial support for nonprofit groups in Henry, Clayton and Fayette Counties such as:
- Good Shepard Clinic – Clayton County
- United Food Force – Henry County
- HOPE Park – Henry County
- Healing Bridge Clinic – Fayette County
- Communities in Schools – Henry County
- GiGi’s House – Clayton County
- Fayette Pregnancy Resource Center – Fayette County
- The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy – Clayton, Henry & Fayette Counties
- Vets Connect of Henry County – Henry County
- The Joseph Sams School – Fayette County
- Henry Quality Leadership Education – Henry County
- Life and Money Matters – Henry County
- Community Gardens of Henry County – Henry County
- Rainbow House – Clayton County
- Hickory Flat Charter Elementary School – Henry County
- Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity – Clayton, Henry & Fayette Counties
- Calvary Refuge – Clayton County
- Haven House – Henry County
- Clearwater Academy – Fayette County
- Pregnancy Aid Clinic – Clayton County
- Clayton State University – Clayton County
While we are pleased and proud of the work accomplished so far, we are also keenly aware of the unmet needs in our area. We are committed to being good stewards of the dollars entrusted to us so that we can continually expand the positive influence of the Heritage Community Foundation.
Since 2014 the Heritage Community Foundation has awarded over $881,000 to local nonprofits.
We believe our best days are ahead as we remain focused on serving those around us.
A few years after HCF’s inception, Heritage Bank merged with other community banks to form Heritage Southeast Bank, and in 2023 merged with The First Bank. These mergers allowed HCF to extend its service area further into Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. To-date, HCF has provided $881,000 in grant awards to more than 150 non-profit groups.