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Foundation wants to help local area

A charitable-giving organization that manages millions and has grown 380 times its initial size in 24 years is reaching out to smaller communities, including this one, wanting to make a bigger impact.

Not that it hasn’t given to local causes in the past.

Just recently, the Ephrata-based Columbia Basin Foundation has given the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce $1,000 for local business support, and it’s donating another $1,000 to the Care and Share Food Bank, both under the foundation’s “ReCOVIDery,” initiative to help during the COVID-19 crisis. Another $600 is pledged to support the Run the Dam event scheduled for Sept. 19.

In addition, the Grand Coulee Dam Senior Center was awarded $3,700, and Friends of the Grand Coulee Special Projects was given $7,138.96.

In 2011 and 2012, the Grand Coulee Dam Rotary Club was awarded a combined $10,000 for its handicapped-accessible fishing pier at Steamboat Rock State Park.

But the foundation wants to do more, says, Corinne Isaak, its executive director, who lives in Coulee City and first got involved as a board member in 2004. She noted that several Grand Coulee organizations have applied for grants currently under evaluation for 2020.

The foundation started with a $25,000 donation for a scholarship in Connell in 1996. Now it manages $9.5 million in assets, all donated or earned on investments of those donations. The principle gift is never touched, Isaak said. Instead, grants are made from the investment earnings they accrue.

So people who find themselves with more money than they’ll use sometimes leave it to CBF.

Like Herb Fakenthall, a Coulee City man who made a living digging with his backhoe, lived in a mobile home. “A simple, humble man with a great vision,” Isaak said. His gift of $1 million now perpetuates a scholarship fund. “He never had kids, but he’s helped so many with scholarships.”

CBF also attracts funds from institutions and businesses. It recently started its reCOVIDery fund to help in the current crisis and raised $126,000 to give away for purposes outlined by givers like Microsoft, which donated $56,000; Grant County PUD, which gave $10,000, and more, to help families, businesses, children, schools.

Isaak said there is currently room on the CBF Board of Directors, and she’d love to find someone from the Grand Coulee Dam area to join the 10 on the board now, “people who believe in charitable giving.”

“We have to make a concerted effort to reach out to each county and make sure people know” about CBF’s work, Isaak said.

The foundation serves “Grant, Adams, western Lincoln Counties and beyond,” the CBF website states.

An advertisement on page 8 outlines the organization’s many facets.


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