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Leading Locally: Community Foundation of Taney County

Based in Branson, the foundation serves a footprint of more than 630 square miles along the southern Missouri state line.

Affiliate foundations

Serving county-wide greater good

The realities of Taney County are found on a wide spectrum that begins with uber-rural living on one side and Branson, a beacon that attracted more than 10 million tourists in 2021, on the other.

Within that reality are more than 56,000 residents who also represent unique needs. That’s where the Community Foundation of Taney County comes in to help. Since its inception in 2002, the CFTC — an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks — has distributed more than $6.3 million back to the community. As of June 2023, it also holds more than $11 million in assets.

Currently, an annual grant round funnels funds to local nonprofits for community betterment work. Recent examples include Ozarks Public Television, which received a grant for its children’s programming; Diaper Bank of the Ozarks, to support its efforts in helping local babies; and Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, which helped provide vouchers for free mammograms for local women in need.

Another place the CFTC helps is through scholarships for local high school students to pursue higher education.

“Those are significant,” says James Chrouser, the CFTC board’s vice president, of the scholarships. “There are tens of thousands of dollars a year that go out between Hollister, Branson and Forsyth schools.”

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The Community Foundation of Taney County is based in Branson, but serves the entire county.

There are also opportunities to help the community through donor-advised funds, which allow families, individuals and businesses to streamline their charitable giving and support for local nonprofits. Another option to help is through donating to the CFTC’s unrestricted fund, which board members then allocate through grants to community needs.

“That is such an awesome opportunity for folks to say, ‘Hey, I care about my community, I just don’t know how best to improve it, or make it better,’” says Nicolas Grimwood, the board’s secretary/treasurer. “This gives them an opportunity to do something for their neighbors, and gives us an opportunity to find the greatest needs and help alleviate those if we can.”

The board’s leaders also remind that the foundation is a great vehicle for leaving a legacy through bequests that can benefit the area for generations to come.

“It keeps it local, and that’s what I think is so cool,” Chrouser says of the CFTC, who is a financial planner. He and Grimwood, who is an attorney, note that they often hear from individuals who allocate funding to foundations that are far away from the Ozarks, when the money could stay local.

“Not saying that’s not a good thing,” Chrouser says of contributions made to far-away foundations. “But when someone lived here or was born and raised here, it’s cool to have that legacy stay here and support local.”

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Taney County has many scenic spots, including an overlook near its seat of Forsyth.

Despite its years of existence, new leaders see a new chapter for the foundation that increases its profile even more, an effort that will result in lasting benefit for the community.

“The recent focus has been on how we make as much of an impact as possible,” says Grimwood. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm, now that we have the means to start getting the word out about what we’re able to do for the benefit of the community.”

Looking forward: Greater awareness

As Chrouser and Grimwood look ahead, they point to greater understanding and awareness as goals for the CFTC. Plans are still in the works, but they are considering some events that would help educate and inform the community of the foundation’s work.

“For us, I think the biggest thing is education,” Chrouser says. “We’re even talking about doing some events that can raise awareness; how you can not only help yourself from an estate-processing perspective, but also our local area. That you can make a real impact with your money and it doesn’t have to go to other places.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

“I really like that the organization allows us the opportunity to connect local folks and local legacies with the local needs that they may not even be aware of.”
—Nicolas Grimwood, secretary/treasurer of the CFTC

“It’s easy to get behind the charities that we’re giving to; they’re all good causes. It’s also cool to be at the beginning stages of something getting really big. The foundation has been around for a while, but I think we’re kind of getting to where we’re going to start growing a lot more.”
—James Chrouser, vice president of the CFTC

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