Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham

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2019 Community Foundation logo.png

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham (formerly the Greater Birmingham Foundation) is a tax-exempt public charity which pools private donations for a wide variety of grants supporting projects in the Birmingham metropolitan area. It was founded on May 5, 1959 by a committee headed by A. J. Bowron. The first advised fund managed by the foundation was donated by Mervyn and Dorah Sterne. The first grant made from that fund was for $100 to the Fairhaven Methodist Retirement Home. Peggy Spain McDonald was appointed the foundation's first executive director in 1964. The foundation adopted its current name in 1998. The current president is Chris Nanni, and Dave Gray chairs the board of directors.

In its 50-year history the organization has awarded over $200 million in grants and currently manages assets in excess of $212 million held at several area financial institutions. The largest single gift, of $20 million, was made to the foundation in 2001. The largest single fund, now worth over $27 million, was initiated with a $3 million bequest from the estate of Margaret Cameron Spain in 1972. In 2018 the Foundation awarded approximately $2.5 million to 70 groups, from an application pool of $10 million in requests from 200 groups.

In 2019 the Community Foundation drafted a new 10-year strategic plan to focus its grant program on the areas of "building community," "building opportunity," "building capacity," and "building philanthropy," for the region. The announcement was accompanied by a new logo.

The Community Foundation's offices are located on the 7th floor of the Landmark Center at 2100 1st Avenue North.

Prize 2 the Future

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At a public event on January 13, 2011, the Community Foundation announced an online competition for the public to submit "one big idea" for what to do with Block 113C (bounded by Powell Avenue, 1st Avenue South, 18th and 19th Streets, just east of the Railroad Park).

In addition to a $50,000 cash prize, implementation of the winning idea was to have been funded by the foundation. The contest drew 2,800 applications and more than 1,100 entries, 965 of which were accepted for judging. Birmingham's Colin Coyne of The Coyne Group won the competition with a multiple-use proposal called One Birmingham Place which included rental space for community service and arts organizations and an academic center for the responsible use of social media.

In 2012 the City agreed to sell Block 113C to Alabama Power Company for $3 million. In July 2014 the utility announced conceptual plans for a mixed-use redevelopment on the site. Work to stabilize the adjoining Powell Avenue Steam Plant was begun that year and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in January 2015. The Birmingham Design Review Committee approved preliminary plans for a public urban plaza on the former parking lot, but no firm plans for redevelopment have been announced and the lot remains fenced off.



  • Singleton, William C. III (March 12, 2011) "More than 1,100 ideas submitted to transform parking lot near Railroad Park in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
  • Hansen, Jeff (March 23, 2011) "Prize2theFuture ideas for Birmingham pour in from 20 states, 38 countries." The Birmingham News
  • Hansen, Jeff (May 6, 2011) "Winning idea to change city says 'each day is different'." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (March 31, 2014) "Meet Chris Nanni, the new CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham." The Birmingham News
  • Rebman, Stephanie (December 19, 2018) "Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham names new chair, board members." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Rebman, Stephanie (April 26, 2019) "Community Foundation launches 10-year strategic plan." Birmingham Business Journal

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