Skip to main content

Fund Impact Stories

Community Funds

When Communities Foundation of Oklahoma was founded, it was done so with the belief that communities and their citizens could come together and enrich the quality of life for all residents today, and into the future. In Tahlequah, they are doing just that.

When first founded, the community foundation lacked the necessary support to do meaningful work in the city. That changed in 2009 when a group of active community members decided to invest the time needed to reinvigorate the organization. With seven trustees and several establishing gifts, the Tahlequah Community Fund set out to make a direct impact in the areas of education, children and quality of life. Honing in on such specific areas has allowed the organization to create life-long partnerships with other community pillars such as Tahlequah Public Schools.

Steve Worth, a board trustee, was drawn to the community fund because of his work as a financial advisor. “You get to know the people in the community and you get to know their hearts,” says Mr. Worth. “I wanted a way that I could help my clients give back to the neighborhoods that raised them.” What does Mr. Worth think can spur on a successful community foundation? Community members, he says. “Having an active force around the community fund has been the key to our success. Having accountants, bankers and estate planners in our backyard that are passionate about ensuring the work their clients do can benefit their community for generations to come.”

Donor Advised Funds

As it is with all our funds, the diversity that comes along with creating a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is limitless.

Grants from Donor Advised Funds usually result from a personal connection to an organization and the benefit comes in the form of individualized, diverse giving. For the Carey family of Duncan, that looks like giving to organizations aimed at aiding high-risk youth in their city. For others, it looks like donating back to the communities that made them. Churches, colleges, soup kitchens and homeless shelters—any 501c3 can be a grant recipient from a Donor Advised Fund.

The manner in which the funds are used can be diverse as well. One anonymous fund, was created to provide philanthropy for generations and serve as a teaching tool for the donor’s family. The patriarch seeks to teach his children and grandchildren about analyzing philanthropic impact for social needs and creating a legacy within their communities.

We offer deep community knowledge, expertise and insight to connect caring people with causes that matter. With a bird’s eye view of the region’s nonprofit sector, we understand the greatest needs facing our communities and the organizations that can best serve them. We are leading and investing in a variety of ways to increase opportunity for our communities – from early childhood education to workforce training, youth mentoring, and extracurricular activities.

Endowment Funds

His passion for youth and agriculture weren’t the only reasons Bob Funk wanted to create the OYE Onward Endowment Fund. “I want to leave a legacy for when I’m gone,” Chairman of the Oklahoma Youth Expo, Bob Funk, told executive director Tyler Norvell. “He was really passionate about being able to start something that could exist for generations to come,” says Norvell. With a gift of $5 million, Bob Funk began the Endowment Fund with a challenge for Norvell and the organization: to match his contribution.

After only two years, they’ve raised a little more than a million dollars and have no intention of slowing down. Today, the Oklahoma Youth Expo is recognized as the largest youth event in the state of Oklahoma and the livestock show brings over 7,000 exhibitors along with their educators and families from all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.

The Endowment Fund will provide the Oklahoma Youth Expo with a permanent and reliable source of support that grows over time— the initial goal of Mr. Funk.

Fiscal Sponsorship Funds

Over ten years ago, Ben Brown was volunteering at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter when he noticed something that would go on to change his life—he saw a truckload of animals that had just been euthanized. Knowing he had to act, Brown decided to volunteer for different programs that offered adoption transportation to Minnesota and Denver; meaning he would transport the animals on euthanasia lists in Oklahoma to people in different cities willing to adopt them.

Seeing what an immediate impact this made, Brown was determined to start a hybrid program in our state. “We were just trying to save dogs,” Brown simply puts it. Started as a Fiscal Sponsorship Fund through Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, OK Puppy Express began as a out of state adoption transportation service for the OK Humane Society, and eventually transformed into a spay and neuter and euthanasia rescue service. They were able to make this transition not only because of the number of dedicated volunteers, but also through the generosity of an anonymous Communities Foundation of Oklahoma donor who supplied them with a van and the ability to transport more animals.

After transporting and helping spay and neuter countless animals, OK Puppy Express has helped changed the landscape for the animal adoption in Oklahoma. “Were it not for CFO and their generosity and innovation through the use of Fiscal Sponsorship Funds, we wouldn’t have been able to make the impact we’ve had,” says Brown.

Scholarship Funds

Desirae always knew she wanted to work with people. The second you meet her you’re enveloped in this sense that you’ve always known her. She speaks with the maturity of someone 10 years her senior and has a twinkle in her eye when she talks. Originally from Ardmore, she grew up in what she describes as a “dysfunctional” home. Her mother was caught in the cycle of addiction and her father, while well-meaning, wasn’t prepared to raise a child alone.

“I always knew I wanted to go to college,” said Desirae. Education was the best way she knew to create a better life for herself and her younger brother. She was granted a life-changing scholarship through the MORE Foundation that allowed her to graduate from UCO debt-free with a degree in Psychology. She could have easily become a product of her circumstances and fallen through the cracks; but she doesn’t see it that way. She rebuffs anyone that tries to give her too many compliments and is quick to mention the people in her corner.

“I had people from the MORE Foundation and CFO cheering me on. It was the first time in my life that I felt people cared enough to fight on my behalf. It gave me the confidence I needed to graduate college, go to graduate school and achieve my end goal of helping people by becoming a therapist.”

Desirae is living proof that we can change the lives of young people through experiential education and generous giving.

Oklahoma Impact Stories


100 People applauding to a public speech given outdoors in the v
Community Affairs

Anonymous DAF Benefitting Savannah Station

When a donor chooses where to give their money or resources, it’s usually personal. Whether…
Cute little children having fun on playground outdoors

Project Boom—Colin Watson

When most college students were taking advantage of COVID 19 quarantine by taking some time…
Positive women teamwork
Community AffairsHuman Services

Tulsa Engineering Scholarship—Quinn Maher

Few opportunities just fall into your lap unexpectedly. For Quinn Maher, the opportunity of a…
Group of volunteers with working in community charity donation c
Community Affairs

Zorita Zevely Simunek and Richard Simunek, Hennessey

Zorita Zevely and Richard Simunek graduated from Hennessey, Oklahoma in 1964 and married in 1966. …
Smiling female speaker with microphone on stage
Community Affairs

The Callie (Jordan) and Clyde Stinson Optometric Student Equipment Fund

Callie Jordan knew Tahlequah. A fixture in the community, she volunteered with the First United…

PO Box 21210, Oklahoma City, OK 73156

801 NW 63rd St Suite 200, Oklahoma City, OK 73116
(405) 488-1450

Privacy Policy
© 2023 Communities Foundation of Oklahoma.