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Leading Locally: Truman Lake Community Foundation

Clinton, Missouri, was once the “Baby Chick Capital of the World,” as a mural on the town’s square proclaims. It’s only one of several murals in the Henry County seat that features 85 buildings of Victorian and Italianate styling.

Affiliate foundations

Mid-Missouri foundation helps serve community causes

The Truman Lake Community Foundation began indirectly because of a need, and directly because of opportunity. In 2000, the TLCF — serving from Clinton, and throughout the surrounding area — formed after other local foundations combined to serve the greater collective good.

In the years since, the TLCF has distributed more than $6.2 million in grants to the community. An affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, it also holds assets totaling $11,247,155 as of June 2023.

“We’re not just in Clinton; we’re covering the Truman Lake community,” says Jim Cook, president of the TLCF, listing nearby communities like Deepwater, Urich and Montrose as recipients of the foundation’s funds.

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The Truman Lake Community Foundation is named for nearby Truman Lake.

Examples of the TLCF’s support include community spaces, like parks and ballfields, and the local historical society.

“It’s pretty much wide open if they’re a nonprofit organization,” Cook says of the foundation’s approach to granting funding.

The TLCF has also supported local Boy Scouts; Golden Valley Memorial Health, the Clinton-based hospital; and programs for children.

Examples of the latter are seen through the local Parents as Teachers and literacy initiatives, which are distributed based on teacher requests.

“At the school, we have helped several of the reading programs,” says Randy Shipman, a board member of the TLCF. “Just knowing that you’re helping kids learn how to read, because you’re given them a skill that’s a life skill, is rewarding. If they get it young, it makes a huge difference in their life.”

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The Truman Lake Community Foundation in based in Clinton, but also serves the area surrounding the Henry County seat.

The TLCF also works with outside foundations — like the Kansas City-based Patterson Family Foundation — to offer matching grants to area nonprofits, extending local work even further. Also, its First Responders Fund accepts ongoing requests for needs as they emerge.

Then, too, there are specific projects and needs with which the TLCF has been able to help. One came in 2006, when a building on the square collapsed, tragically resulting in the death of a young community member.

“We acted as a pass-through for their donations to rebuild, and they were rebuilt in less than two years if I remember correctly,” says Nina East, the board’s treasurer. Additionally, the TLCF helped raise funds for soccer fields that were dedicated in memory of the young man who died.

“The young man’s father also established a fund with our organization, and it’s still viable and doing some things in town,” she adds.

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History abounds in Henry County, which dates to the 1830s. Historical features in Clinton include a former one-room school and dogtrot log cabin.

In addition to offering support in times of need, the TLCF has plans for the future: A fund to which it allocates a small portion of its annual grantmaking dollars. It’ll be ready for the “right” project that will have a significant impact on the community’s future.

“We set aside 10% of our available grant spending money and put it in our Impact Fund, so it can build up and we can make an impact,” Cook says. “It would not only be a big project for the city, but hopefully it’ll be a project that a big group of people can use that will get us a lot of exposure.

“There’s no set time date. We’re just looking for the right opportunity.”

Looking to the future: New funds and increased exposure

Looking ahead, the TLCF has a goal of increasing the number of funds — for individuals, as well as nonprofits — under its umbrella.

“Our strategy is not meant to do fundraising,” Shipman says of the board’s perspective. “Our strategy has been to increase our number of accounts, endowed accounts, that generates grantmaking money.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

“For me personally, it’s been a way to give and keep it local. I give to a lot of other organizations, but the majority is right here — local — and this is a vehicle I can use to do that.”
—Jim Cook, TLCF board president

“I can’t haul lumber and pound hammers anymore. This is a way for me to give back in a different way.”
—Nina East, TLCF board treasurer

It’s a great way to give back to programs that benefit kids and the greater community.”
—Randy Shipman, TLCF board member

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