Tupelo-based CREATE, a nonprofit founded 40 years ago to foster community development and philanthropy in an initial 15-county Northeast Mississippi region, has added only one other member – Oktibbeha County in 2001.
“We’ve thought for some time it made real sense to have Lowndes County be a part of us,” said CREATE President Mike Clayborne. “We’ve had Oktibbeha and Clay County, and now we’re bringing the final piece of the Golden Triangle.”
CREATE will work with the Lowndes Community Foundation immediately to help raise $200,000 to establish a permanent endowment.
For every $2 raised, CREATE will contribute $1. It’s billed as a “challenge” grant worth up to $100,000 to help serve as seed money for the endowment, Clayborne said.
The community can choose any way it wants to use that money.
“There’s no deadline for them to raise the money, but typically we look at a time frame of two to three years,” he said.
The expansion into Lowndes County “will strengthen CREATE and our region, and our partnership will help the citizens of Lowndes County,” said CREATE Chairman Tommy Tomlinson of Starkville.
John Jones, president of the Lowndes Community Foundation, said becoming an affiliate of CREATE will raise the profile of his organization and its efforts.
Having been an important part of the community for years, the LCF now will be able to attract more and bigger donors thanks to the reach and credibility of CREATE, Jones said.
The Lowndes Community Foundation has about $300,000 in assets and is financially sound, he added.
CREATE has $64 million in assets and manages 144 endowment funds, 11 community affiliate funds and some 200 special project funds and 152 donor-advised funds. It is the sole stockholder of Journal Inc., which publishes the Daily Journal.
Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the LINK, the economic development organization for Lowndes County, said its citizens “don’t take this (partnership) lightly.
“It’s big-time leadership in Northeast Mississippi thinking we’re a worthy team member and that we bring value to the team. ... this gives us resources we’ve never had before.”