The Community Foundation was established in 1979 to satisfy two community needs in Oak Park:
In support of specialized volunteer efforts, the Foundation would create standing committees — activity committees — so that multiple non-profit, tax exempt organizations would not have to incorporate separately.
In response to the passage of Proposition 13, the Foundation would raise funds through donations to support needed and desired community programs and projects for which tax funds were inappropriate or no longer available.
The incorporation of the Community Foundation was supported by volunteers and a grant from the Oak Park Civic Association, which directed that the Foundation give special emphasis to the youth of the community. When the Civic Association dissolved a few years later, its remaining funds were donated to the Foundation, which created a Civic Association Fund to further the public purposes of that organization.
Today, well over half of the funds raised by the Foundation and its activity committees are spent in support of the students of the Oak Park Unified School District. Also, well over half the volunteers within the activity committees are involved in school-related programs. Thus, the Foundation continues to fulfill the direction to serve youth.
However, the Community Foundation also supports other programs and public-benefit organizations — public and private — serving Oak Park. Four examples:
Before local elections, the Foundation conducts non-partisan forums for candidates.
Grants from the Foundation's Oak Tree Fund have been used by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District to restore the oak forest in the hills around Oak Park and to conduct a well-attended dedication for the Oak Park Community Center.
The Foundation maintains a CERT Fund to support the Community Emergency Response Team, volunteers trained to aid in the event of earthquake, wildfire, and other local disasters.
The Friends of the Oak Park Library — an activity committee of the Foundation — provides both volunteers and funds in support of the Oak Park Library, a unique combination of public and high school library.
The Community Foundation is definitely more than a school foundation.