A hub for local philanthropy

06 Sep 2012

Over 3,500 people and more than 200 community groups came to use the centre in its first year alone

Since 1982, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County (the Community Foundation) has helped people invest in causes they care about, by providing help to donors, advisors and nonprofits. As the Community Foundation grew, along with its operating costs, the board of directors moved forward on the long-held dream of its founders to establish a permanent home for local philanthropy.

The Jack & Peggy Baskin Centre for Philanthropy opened in 2010. It's a dynamic, new, sustainable green building, located in the centre of the county and adjacent to a state park. From day one it has become what the founding trustees long envisioned, a hub for local philanthropy.

In the first year of occupying the new building, over 3,500 people and more than 200 community groups came to use the centre. This volume of traffic is more than could ever have happened in its previously leased office spaces. With its LEED Gold certification, the centre has become an example for sustainable building in the county and is frequently toured by local architects, contractors and members of the community interested in seeing sustainable design strategies in action.  The new building is attracting intrigue from new stakeholders in contrast to the Foundation's prominence once having been considered a best-kept-secret.

The building nestles into a westward slope, presenting a single-story façade to its commercial neighbours to the west and revealing its full elevation to the east where the entry court is located. Two parallel wings house the administrative and public spaces. The two-story north wing, where the Community Foundation's staff offices are located, uses concrete as structure, thermal envelope and exterior and interior finishes, conserving resources and assuring long-term durability and ease of maintenance. The southern wing, clad in FSC-certified cedar, provides a tactile counterpoint to the north wing and features the building's public spaces, including a resource library, meeting rooms and a rooftop terrace.


The design exceeds the energy efficiency baseline of California Title 24 by 20.1%.  Occupants enjoy light, views and natural ventilation via strategically placed windows and skylights throughout the building.  Xeriscaping and carefully selected plumbing fixtures significantly reduce water demand, and pervious paving reduces storm water runoff from the site.  Bike storage, electric car charging stations and easy access to five local bus lines comprise a few of the on-site incentives to use alternative transportation. Photovoltaic panels provide on the roof of the two-story volume supply 12% of the facilities electrical needs.


The new building has raised the Community Foundation's profile in the community and improved public understanding of the Foundation's crucial role in local and regional philanthropy. This has brought new donor interest and an increased request for services from nonprofits and advisors.

Since 2006, the Community Foundation has been a cooperating collection of the Foundation Centre in New York. As part of network of community foundations and libraries nationwide, the Community Foundation makes available online grants databases and an extensive volume of print publications. The opening of the building in 2010, allowed the Community Foundation to create the Borina Nonprofit Resource centre, located in the south wing, where these materials could be found and used in a comfortable setting. Ten visitors per week on average come to the building just to use these resources.

The new building also allowed the Community Foundation to expand its role as a convener and gathering place for people and organizations looking to address complex local issues, such as water resources, land use and the changing role of the private and public sector in supporting local causes.


The building supports the Community Foundation's mission by literally making space for the community - over half of the building is designated for public use. Local groups can reserve meeting rooms and event spaces for little to no fee. Reservation requests have already exceeded anticipated demand. Such diverse groups and agencies as the Sheriff's Department, chambers of commerce, homeowners associations and a long list of nonprofit boards have all been first-time visitors and users of the centre.

The new building carries symbolic value for the Foundation as well, conveying a permanence of place in the community and reassuring donors and stakeholders of the Community Foundation's ability to steward resources. Moreover, having hosted events that combine public, private, business and nonprofit entities, the Foundation is becoming known as a go-to place for meetings and events.

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