Collective Giving Summer 2023

Give Back Tahoe Event

Collective Giving

Zach Conradson, seen here with fiance Morganne Murphy-Meyers, will receive training in his pursuit to become a CAL FIRE pilot thanks to a scholarship funded in part by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, and Richard and Theresa Crocker.

Philanthropy multiplied

With our scholarships and other efforts, carefully targeted giving can add up to more than the sum of its parts.

As many of you know, in order to execute our Impact Agenda effectively, we focus our efforts on three key areas: forests, families and housing. Very often, we find that work we do in one of these impact areas produces measurable results in another—what we might call cross-initiative resonance.

For example, our commitment to creating healthier forests and building more affordable housing can help grow a diversified economy, which in turn provides livable wages that support stable, happy families. And our community scholarship program, which in the last fiscal quarter awarded more than $1.5 million to students demonstrating both merit and need, is a place where we frequently witness efforts multiplied across various areas. The same dynamic can be found in the supplemental scholarship program, which is available to students pursuing post-secondary education.

Phyllis McConn, TTCF’s Community Impact Officer, points to one of this year’s supplemental scholarship recipients, who received funding from a variety of sources targeting specific goals.

Zach Conradson, a 2013 graduate of Truckee High School who went on to receive a BA in business management from the University of Utah, decided to build a different kind of career in flying fire-retardant bombers for CAL FIRE. That will require a great deal of training, beginning with a year in the Airline Career Pilot Program at ATP Flight School in Riverside, CA.

The scholarship that Conradson was awarded to help pay for that training drew from several sources, with the initial funds coming from a Truckee Tahoe Airport District scholarship offered to students pursuing careers in aviation. This was combined with a gift from Richard and Theresa Crocker that’s earmarked for young adults pursuing further education to develop a skill that meets a local need—protecting the region from wildfire certainly met that criterion.

Here we see one philanthropic act resonating with two of TTCF’s core initiatives. The Forest Futures campaign, which was launched in 2016 as a reaction to the sudden proliferation of tree mortality, has focused on fire protection and prevention since the arrival of near-annual catastrophic wildfires the following year. The Family Strengthening campaign is designed in part to help people like Zach overcome whatever economic need is standing in the way of their success.

“The various aspects of TTCF function in disparate areas,” McConn says, “but here we see how they are actually connected.”

Collective Giving and Growing

McConn says the benefits of TTCF’s scholarship programs go beyond the financial realm.

“It’s such a community-binding thing to know that we all got together to help launch these talented, hard-working young people,” she says. “I hope the community understands how much their support means individually to each of them.”

Conradson says the locals-helping-locals nature of the TTCF scholarship helped move him to apply.

“I loved the fact that it was a community-based organization instead of just some national scholarship,” he says. “It’s like, this is actually from people who live here who put up money to create these opportunities. When I read that I immediately thought, ‘I’d be insane not to do this!’”

Dana Crary, TTCF’s Community Impact Manager, says this year‘s high school scholarship processes saw more stakeholder participation than previous years. She says awareness among teachers and counselors is up, and that they are helping students apply and supporting them through the process.

This seems to be setting up a virtuous cycle in which more people are inspired to help grow the pool of money available to these students. And again, TTCF is working to see that these donations and awards pay off in more ways than one. We’re seeing the same kind of thing within the supplemental scholarship program.

“We’re really trying to find a way to support folks who have a very clear direction of where they’re going,” Crary says. “And ideally, that direction is something that’s going to loop back and support this community in a much-needed way. Zach has found this niche that touches on all of our individual lives up here.”

“It’s been humbling to see the way the community has stepped up and is eager to financially prop up these students who are looking to improve upon their lives, and come back and support the community with what they learn.”

Helping You Help

In 2017, TTCF purchased the license for software that created a common application so high school students could apply for a number of scholarships at once. Donors and committees could access some of this information, sort for eligibility, and make their autonomous decisions. This streamlined the process and fortuitously, it also absolutely showed the power of collective giving.

When all of the participants, for the first time, were able to see the need and the merit of these kids, and also saw what others were doing, it inspired committees to increase their scholarships and create new ones.

This is an example of how TTCF works. We are in constant, thoughtful re-examination of our role in the community, and always looking for ways to work smarter with our donors’ money. We understand that conditions are changing and that we must stay on top of the changes in order to meet the highest needs.

If you want to support this community but don’t know the best way to do so, we can offer you guidance based on our rigorous research and deep connections.

Help Protect Tahoe Truckee from Wildfire. See Forest Futures.