CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories


CREATE sets endowment goal

By John Cummins

Daily Journal

A major philanthropic foundation has issued a challenge to Northeast Mississippi to fund a $10 million endowment for community development during the next three years.

CREATE issued the challenge during its 25th anniversary celebration Thursday at the Ramada in Tupelo.

The challenge continues the mission established by CREATE's founder, the late George McLean, to improve the quality of life in Northeast Mississippi.

Several individuals and organizations immediately took up the challenge, quickly establishing the initial investment toward the $10 million goal.

McLean's wife, Anna Keirsey McLean, announced a gift of $750,000 from her estate to CREATE. Anna McLean is the chairman of the board of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Her husband was the former owner and publisher of the Daily Journal.

Another $750,000 was given to CREATE by the Daily Journal, in a special endowment dividend.

The Phil Hardin Foundation, named for the Mississippi businessman and founder of Hardin Bakeries, donated $75,000 toward the goal, while the Ford Foundation donated another $75,000 grant, along with $20,000 in technical assistance funds.

The donations join assets already held by CREATE to establish a total commitment of $2 million towards the $10 million goal.

"The experiment George McLean began has worked, and will continue to work," said Daily Journal publisher Billy Crews.

Endowment use

The funds will be put into use immediately with the announcement of two $100,000 challenge grants awarded on a matching basis to Corinth-Alcorn County and Ripley-Tippah County.

The challenge grants were awarded on a 2-for-1 basis, with the counties each providing an additional $200,000. The funds will be used for community and economic development.

Bobby Martin, representing the Tippah County Development Foundation, and Dr. John Dodd, representing the The Alliance economic development organization of Alcorn County, accepted the challenge grants for their counties.

Mike Clayborne, president of CREATE, said the interest from the total $300,000 endowments will be used to fund worthwhile causes in the counties.

"The establishment of local funds is key to this process," Clayborne said. CREATE will be working with local advisory groups such as The Alliance and TCDF to accomplish that, he said.

Additional awards

The Phil Hardin Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation were each honored with awards marking their charitable contributions to Northeast Mississippi.

Accepting the first McLean Award for Philanthropy were Robert Ward and Tom Wacaster, representing the Hardin Foundation, and Al Servati and George Null, representing the Carpenter Foundation of Richmond, Va.

Servati is division manager of the Carpenter Company, while Null is the personnel manager of the company's Verona factory. Carpenter manufactures polyurethane foam.

"These awards are intended to spotlight organizations which have significantly improved the lives of Northeast Mississippians through charitable endeavors," Clayborne said.

He said the Carpenter Foundation has given $737,000 in grants and awards to area organizations since 1975, including CREATE and the North Mississippi Medical Center.

Lewis Whitfield, chairman of CREATE's board, also thanked the Carpenter Foundation for the technical assistance they've provided CREATE since the 1970s.

Wacaster said that it was significant that CREATE was established in 1972, the same year that Phil Hardin's estate, including the Hardin Bakeries, were turned over to the Hardin Foundation.

"1978 was the first time CREATE and the Hardin Foundation first worked together. This should be just the beginning," Wacaster said.

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