History of the Belvedere Community Foundation

In the summer of 1990 three distinguished Belvedere citizens, each a former mayor, met to discuss the overwhelming success of a recent voter-approved Capital Improvement Measure. In addition, they talked about a house that was slated to be demolished and had been offered to the City if it had a place to move it. This was an opportunity lost, as there existed no city conveyance with which to accept the offer.

Don Davis, Bob Gordon, and Chuck Auerbach had each served the City of Belvedere for many years. Their love and appreciation for the magnificent place in which they lived inspired them to remain involved. Don shared his dream of capturing the generosity and volunteerism of the Belvedere citizenry to preserve and enhance the quality of life for future generations. Encouraged by what they saw as the generosity of the Belvedere citizens to “tax” themselves to assure the character of and quality of life in their community, they enlisted the help of Rex Fink, and the four of them hatched the concept of a Belvedere Community Foundation. This Foundation would establish an endowment fund that would provide income to support worthy local projects not included in the City’s budget.

Belvedere Community Foundation, first named City of Belvedere Foundation, was incorporated in September, 1990. November 17 marked the first official meeting of the Trustees at the San Francisco Yacht Club: Donald Davis, Sandra Donnell, Philip Ehrlich, R.H. Fink, Robert Gordon, William Smith, and Sally Legge. Chuck Auerbach had to decline being a trustee because he had too many other commitments at the time.

The group discussed how to introduce the concept of the Foundation to the community, and each Trustee contributed $200 to open a bank account. On January 17, 1991, Don Davis presented the plans for a community foundation at the Belvedere Annual Meeting.

By June, 1991, the Board included: Donald Davis – President, Rex H. Fink – Secretary, Douglas Jocelyn – Treasurer, Sandra Donnell, Philip Ehrlich, Roger Felton, Robert Gordon, Sally Legge, William Steen, and Leslie Mathews. Christine Telischak joined the board that October.

During that first year, this group worked on the structure of the Foundation. They developed the concept of an executive committee within a larger Board of Trustees, which later became the Advisory Board. They then refined the purpose and message of Belvedere Community Foundation, developed brochures and gathered supporters. By November, 1991, there were 11 Executive Board members and 68 Advisory Trustees, and a mailing was planned to go out to every Belvedere resident. That tradition, which in 1997 became the annual newsletter, is still in place.

The 1990’s saw considerable growth in assets and grant-making capacity. At the first public Annual Meeting, held in November, 1992, Treasurer Jocelyn announced net assets of just over $100,000, with an additional $25,000 committed to the new Library structure. By the next year, growth in the endowment fund was small but the Library fund had grown to over $150,000. While the Executive Committee was excited about its success in raising money for the Library, it was clear that the endowment fund needed attention if it were ever to generate significant income for other projects. Increasing the endowment was thus an important focus in the 1990’s, and by 1999 the endowment had risen to just over a half million dollars.

In 1995 C. Gordon and Eleanor Knight made a testamentary bequest of 5% of their net estate to BCF to create a special fund for park and open space projects in Belvedere, thus considerably improving BCF’s ability to fund those sorts of projects. At final settlement that fund was about a quarter of a million dollars. Over the years it has been an invaluable source of funds for beautification projects in the City, the most recent for renovation of Golden Gate Lane. The Belvedere Centennial of 1996 also helped to spur growth in BCF’s outreach efforts, as the Foundation participated in fundraising for the Gazebo, the block parties, and improvements to the City Hall playground.

These early years laid the foundation for growth in the 21st Century. By the late 1990’s there were already events created for honoring the Advisory Trustees and holding a welcome party for new Belvedere residents, events that the Board still holds. In addition, the slide show shown at the Annual Meetings during the 1990’s grew to include the photo contest that we celebrate today. Concerts-in-the-Park, first funded in 1999, is now a Belvedere institution. That year was also the first year that Harvey’s Garden received funds. This emphasis on giving back to the Belvedere community led to the establishment of Clean and Green Day in 2011, adding a much-need opportunity for volunteers to clean up and “green” various areas of Belvedere.

As the endowment has grown, so has BCF’s ability to support Belvedere’s physical, social, and cultural needs. More information about the projects and activities that we support can be found in the Projects section of this website. Our mission is to remain an important resource for projects that help sustain this exceptional place and community. Each donation, no matter its size, provides welcome support for current and future projects. We hope that everyone in our beautiful community will participate in its continuation, both as volunteers and as donors.