Ellsworth Kelly Foundation (EKF) Donates $300,000 to Columbia County Schools

Ellsworth Kelly Photo by Jack ShearMay 24, 2013 - Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced today that The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation (EKF) has awarded $300,000 to build the permanent endowments of the Arts and Humanities Funds for the 6 public school districts in Columbia County, NY. The gift has been awarded to celebrate Ellsworth Kelly’s 90th birthday on May 31, 2013.

In addition, over the course of the last 10 years, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has awarded $1.45 million to stimulate the start up of Arts and Humanities Funds at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation for the Hudson, Chatham, Germantown, New Lebanon, Ichabod Crane and Taconic Hills Central School districts. These funds are changing the lives of the children in Columbia County—taking them to places they’ve never been, bringing theater companies to their schools, and introducing them to books and artists that they would otherwise never know.

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation President Jennifer Dowley said, “Some people are born generous. It is clear that Ellsworth Kelly is one of them and we are most fortunate that he chose Columbia County as his home all those many years ago. We are even more fortunate that he and Director Jack Shear have chosen to direct some of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation’s grants to nurture creativity at the grass roots level and among the next generation in his home community. Hundreds and over time, thousands of our school children, will experience his generosity in a myriad of ways.”

Director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, Jack Shear said “I believe that we should think globally and act locally. We provide funding in the form of matching grants because without the support of the parents, teachers, students and our community these initiatives would not exist. Since the inception of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, fifty percent of all funds donated have supported programs in Columbia County.”

 
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Each of the Arts and Humanities Funds is guided by an advisory committee of teachers, parents and business leaders from each local community. Together, they have awarded $380,000 over the past 10 years to hundreds of projects such as field trips to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York—and locally to the Hudson Opera House, Art Omi, Olana, The Clark Museum, MassMoCa and Shakespeare & Company among many others. The funds have sponsored hundreds of workshops touching thousands of students—such as African dance, computer illustration, photography, classical jazz, Native American pottery, newspaper writing and drama. They have purchased equipment and sponsored events such as the Hudson Children’s Book Festival, Career Night in the Arts and College Portfolio Critique Day. Artists from every artistic discipline have been brought into the schools to inspire children and encourage their creative voices. An entire generation of Columbia County students has benefited from these funds and many more will benefit long into the future.

Hudson School Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said, “The Arts and Humanities Fund is having a profound impact on both our students and teachers in the Hudson School District. The projects we have been able to fund lift morale, provide an innovative voice to help advance aspects of our core curriculum and open doors to our students for ideas and opportunities they would never have had. We join the chorus of Happy Birthday singers for Mr. Ellsworth Kelly and thank him for his generosity from the bottom of all our hundreds of hearts.”

Nancy Rutter, Chair of the Taconic Hills Arts and Humanities Fund said, “I have had the great pleasure of chairing the Taconic Arts and Humanities Fund and rejoice in the opportunity it has given us parents and teachers to connect with our broader community to raise money for creative projects and then oversee the funding of absolutely amazing projects that we know will change the lives of many of our students.”

Art teacher with a studentBerkshire Taconic has worked in partnership with the EKF for 10 years to start and build the 6 Arts and Humanities funds. Each advisory committee has raised tens of thousands of dollars to match the EKF initial grant thereby securing the fund’s annual grantmaking ability for the long term. Berkshire Taconic provides administrative, financial and investment support for the funds enabling the committees to focus on fundraising and on grantmaking. Together, BTCF and the committees have created a network of support for creative work in the arts and humanities for all the public school students throughout Columbia County. Berkshire Taconic partners with donors who make a difference in their communities. “Berkshire Taconic is the accelerant for doing good,” said Jennifer Dowley. “It has been our privilege and pleasure to partner with Mr. Kelly all these years. He should feel deeply content on his 90th birthday not only about his extraordinary contribution as a major American artist but because he thought of the children in his community and who they might become.”

For over 25 years, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has built stronger communities and helped donors make a difference through charitable giving in Columbia County, northwest Litchfield County, CT; Berkshire County, MA; and northeast Dutchess County, NY. Each year, the foundation distributes over $7 million through grants and scholarships to nonprofits and individuals in the arts and education, health and human services and environmental protection. Berkshire Taconic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity. You can make a difference. We can help.






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Ellsworth Kelly. Photo (c) Jack Shear
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