Community Defined


Definition of COMMUNITY
1. a: unified body of individuals: b: the people with common interests living in a particular area; c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e: a group linked by a common policy f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g: a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
2. a: joint ownership or participation b: common character : LIKENESS community of interests c: social activity : FELLOWSHIP

Last week as my fellow teammates gathered in the lunchroom, we realized that somehow we’d all selected coordinating shades of blue, green, black or white to wear that day. Someone said, “Get a picture!” Upon reflection, this photo is illustrative of the work we do and how we go about it. We live community daily.

• Though our outfit choices are not an exact match, it reminds me of how we approach our work in a coordinated fashion as a community of individuals with different styles, preferences, and opinions, but with on one clear likeness: Our passion for stronger communities in East Tennessee.
• We gather as a team consistently to share lunch, fellowship and chew on how to better lives in East Tennessee. There is always lively discussion, trust me.
• And thank goodness, everyone had their eyes wide open and an optimistic smile!

Being employed by a community foundation is a unique privilege. We take our obligation to our donors’ thoughtful giving and their philanthropic interests seriously. We are advocates for the charitable needs in our region. Daily we strive to bring together the resources and garner the trust necessary to accomplish this important work!

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Blount Community Fund Turns One

On April 25, 2016 in the West Meeting Room of United Way of Blount County, the initial advisory board members signed a document to establish East Tennessee Foundation’s (ETF) Blount affiliate fund. Ed Harmon, local community leader and philanthropist, demonstrated his commitment to Blount County and charitable giving by providing the lead gift. In appreciation to Mr. Harmon for his lead gift and as a demonstration of the foundation’s confidence in the future success of this fund for Blount County, ETF matched his initial donation. “It is important that the community know these funds have been dedicated to support and benefit all the citizens of Blount County and will continue to do so,” shared Mike McClamroch, ETF President & CEO.

On April 12, 2017, I attended a community forum hosted by ETF and the Blount Community Fund advisory board to update and discuss their progress since the fund was established. First, Trudy Hughes, ETF Director of Regional Advancement,  emphasized this fund is not meant to compete with other Blount County organizations for charitable donations. Jennifer Wackerhagen, Executive Director, United Way of Blount County, further explained this fund is to provide philanthropic dollars to be invested for the future unmet needs in Blount County where there may currently be “gaps” in services provided.

For example, through the advisory board’s research, children ages 3 to 4 years of age need additional services available in the areas of literacy and parental education. They are currently exploring ways to approach this issue. Additionally, the board encourages Blount County citizens to get involved in the opportunity to improve the quality of life here. You can suggest a project, volunteer to serve on the board, or make a donation.

To identify ways to build a stronger community and better lives in Blount County, please contact Trudy Hughes at (865) 524-1223 or

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The Gift of Giving

By Susan Blair, East Tennessee Foundation’s Administrative Assistant

Growing up in East Tennessee, our family was far from wealthy, but we wanted for little. Our parents lived frugally, and when it came to giving, I more often saw them give of their time and talents, rather than their treasures, especially my mother. Even into her 80s, she did as much as she could, even with her limited vision, to serve the community, mostly through her church. Even so, giving didn’t come naturally to me, I confess. In fact, while living away from East Tennessee for many years, my only real experience was with the Combined Federal Campaign.

After coming home to live, the volunteer spirit kicked in, and I also began to serve the community through my church and non-profits that spoke to my passion, but still hadn’t discovered the real secret of giving. That happened during a capital campaign at my church, when I was invited to a meeting apparently for those with the potential to give a substantial gift (as I was to discover). I went into the meeting with a determined mindset of exactly what my gift would be, not to be deterred. When I left, however, my mind had been radically changed.  And once that decision was made, the floodgates of giving were open for me. That’s the secret of giving – the more you give, the more you want to give.

Now, as a single person with a modest inheritance from those frugal parents, but no heirs, I find myself wondering how best to put that gift to work. As the years ahead seem to come faster and faster, I still support my passions with focus and intent. But I am still seeking a way to make a meaningful, but probably anonymous, legacy, and my ideas change from week to week. Thankfully, I know that in East Tennessee Foundation, I have a philanthropic partner who will help me focus those plans and ensure the best way to make dreams come true for those who come after me.

And, in giving, I have learned that it really is true: “it is more blessed to give than to receive

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Family Philanthropy: Repairing the World Can Start at Home

By Dr. Jeffrey Becker, Professor Emeritus, Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and East Tennessee Foundation Board Chair

Tikkun olam: the Hebrew words for repairing the world.

A heart for charity, and making a difference in the world, is something that can begin at home by teaching youth the concept of family philanthropy. One significant example lies within Knoxville’s Jewish community where family philanthropy has a name—B’nai Tzedek, a youth philanthropy project. The vision of this project is to help cultivate future leaders within the Jewish community while also giving teens the power to make a difference through tzedakah (the Hebrew word for justice, but loosely translated as charity). This deepens teens’ commitment to social action, and educates them about local and international nonprofit philanthropic organizations.

B’nai Tzedek begins teaching philanthropy through Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. When Jewish youth reach the age of 13 and have their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they are often given money as gifts. Through the philanthropy project, the youth makes a commitment to join by donating $125 that is matched by his or her synagogue, and then also matched by the Knoxville Jewish Community Family of Funds, a supporting organization of the East Tennessee Foundation.

Charitable contributions are then made from the interest earned on the $500 fund, but the fund is also combined with many other B’nai Tzedek funds. This allows for several thousand dollars to be contributed to charities voted upon by the combined youth at an annual allocation meeting. Should the fund grow by contributions, it becomes a permanent Donor-Advised Fund in the name of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah who initiated the fund.

As East Tennessee Foundation celebrates 30 years of service this year, we turn our focus to family philanthropy. On August 23, 2016, East Tennessee Foundation will help start family-based dialogues on how to make charitable giving a part of family life through a multi-generational panel event called Generous Genes (How Family Philanthropy Can Transform a Region). Best described as a philanthropy road show, the event will make a breakfast stop in Athens, Tenn. at Tennessee Wesleyan University, a lunch top in Knoxville, Tenn. at The Foundry and a dinner stop in Johnson City, Tenn. at the Johnson City Country Club.

Fostering a heart for giving and teaching our children the values of philanthropy are important in making a difference in the world. Please plan to join us for this event. RSVPs are required by August 15, 2016 by contacting Samantha Amrick at or by calling (865) 524-1223.

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Ramp-Up Begins to ETF’s 30th Anniversary Signature Event Aug. 23

Ramp-Up Begins to ETF’s 30th Anniversary Signature Event Aug. 23   #ETF30
By Michael McClamroch, President & CEO, East Tennessee Foundation

Pat Summitt and Mike McClamrochPat Summitt and Mike McClamroch

There’s nothing quite like going to work every day at your dream job… unless it’s going to work each day at your dream job when a major celebration of your organization is about to get underway – and then it’s even more fulfilling.

2016 has proven to be an interesting year so far, certainly one with marked highs and lows.

In our East Tennessee Foundation family, we have observed the passing of our dear friend Pat Summitt with sobering reflection and the deepest, heart-felt emotion, as well as soaring inspiration.  Knowing that the Pat Summitt Foundation is housed within East Tennessee Foundation has infused all of us on staff and among the board of directors with an even higher sense of purpose, focused on the kind of philanthropy that has the power to change lives, right before our eyes.

This year has also been one of planning for a major milestone in ETF’s evolution – our 30th anniversary.  On Tuesday, August 23, our team will take part in a major thought leadership initiative to spotlight family philanthropy, featuring Susan Price, author of Generous Genes: Raising Caring Kids in a Digital Age, alongside discussion panels of local philanthropists from several East Tennessee communities.

With a breakfast event planned at Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens, Tenn.; lunch event at The Foundry in Knoxville; and dinner event at the Johnson City Country Club in Johnson City, Tenn., ETF will canvass our service area to engage citizens in meaningful discourse about what it means to pass the torch of charitable-giving values from one generation to the next.

Please plan to attend one or all of these events, where we’ll learn and share new ways to make philanthropy a relevant part of our lives and lifestyles, whether in ways large or small.

Stay tuned!   #ETF30

A Knoxville native, Mike McClamroch has been East Tennessee Foundation’s chief executive since 2001. With his constant emphasis on excellent stewardship of the resources entrusted to the Foundation and on top-notch constituent services, Mike has overseen dramatic growth in the asset-size and grantmaking of ETF.  Prior to leading ETF, Mike practiced law with the firm of Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis and was an active volunteer with a variety of charitable organizations in the Knoxville area.

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We Loved Our 29th Annual Meeting

05730th Anniversary Task Force assists in presentation
of our new 30th Anniversary logo at our 29th Annual Meeting.

l to r: Ellen Fowler, Amy Cathey, Avice Reid, Jeff Becker,
Howard Blum , and Bobbie Congleton
Surprise logo unveiling
We always enjoy our Annual Meetings. The invitations go out and begin a wonderful process of bringing generous caring people together. There are no place cards or designated seats, so you never know who will be sitting next to you. Be assured though that your luncheon conversation will involve your common interest of making communities stronger and lives better in East Tennessee.




Click here for more pictures




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An East Tennessee Foundation Surprise!

At our team Holiday Party, Mike McClamroch (Our President & CEO) was presented with an envelope containing Operating Fund contributions from 100 % of the ETF Staff!100 percent Staff in Operating

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East Tennessee Foundation Supports the Clarence Brown Theater with its Open Captioning Initiative

Grant improves cultural and arts accessibility to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community in East Tennessee

Enjoying a live stage performance is a luxury not experienced by many who are hard of hearing. East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is helping ignite change by granting funding for the Clarence Brown Theater (CBT) to provide an open captioning service at one performance per show. The two-year, $5,000 grant given in May funds the cost of a captioning service provided by the nonprofit, Caption Operators, and makes the CBT the first directed theater in the state to offer open captioning.

Many think open captioning is only for the Deaf, but the service helps improve the theater experience for others with major and even minor hearing loss. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the population is hard of hearing or deaf. Among these 30 million people, 98 percent do not use American Sign Language. The open captioning service now offered at Clarence Brown allows passive users to benefit captioning without being singled out for needing hearing equipment.

“East Tennessee Foundation is fortunate for the opportunity to support Clarence Brown Theater’s efforts to provide an enhanced theater experience to East Tennesseans previously not able to enjoy it with comfort and ease,” said Michael McClamroch, ETF President and CEO.

One patron that has experienced hearing loss sent in an email stating her support for the program. “I have attended CBT for years; but as a hard-of-hearing adult, I always ‘missed’ things. I haven’t attended a movie theater for years because of this. However, I enjoy live plays so much that I’ve continued to attend CBT anyway. When I received the email stating that CBT was going to try the open captioning, I quickly called and changed all of my tickets to attend the shows where it was offered.”

Providing open captioning does not take away from others’ enjoyment of the show, but rather expands access to allow more people to partake in the cultural experience. The text display is positioned discreetly so as not to detract from the actors, but also allows anyone in the audience to benefit from the captions, whether they have hearing loss or simply missed a word.

“I was so pleased with the results yesterday! Having the open captioning turned the CBT from a great to an exceptional experience for me! My guest, who was very pleased for me, did not find the captioning detracting in any way,” stated a patron.

Open captioning will be available on the third Sunday matinee showing of each of the remaining 2015-2016 productions:

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play – Sunday, November 15 at 2 p.m.

A Christmas Carol – Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m.

The Santaland Diaries – Sunday, December 20 at 2 p.m.

Titus Andronicus – Sunday, February 28 at 2 p.m.

A Lesson Before Dying – Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m.

The Open Hand (World Premiere) – Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m.

South Pacific – Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m.

The Clarence Brown Theater staff has extreme pride in the work they are doing for the community. The theater is also grateful for the support that East Tennessee Foundation provided by servicing a group of people that is not often considered when decision are made in the live entertainment sector.

“We are thrilled to have received support from the East Tennessee Foundation to help us continue our open captioning program for another two years. Our goal is to be of service to our community,” stated David Byrd, the theater’s managing director. “This program helps us reach an underserved audience and has been embraced by arts patrons from Knoxville and beyond.”

The open captioning is a separate program from Deaf Night, which is another access opportunity at Clarence Brown Theater for the deaf and hard of hearing community that seeks to make the theater experience completely accessible to the Deaf audience with interpreters throughout the theater.

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Forget-Me-Not Race Benefits Pat Summitt Foundation

Another great event was recently held to raise funds for the Pat Summitt Foundation, to combat Alzheimer’s – the team of volunteers was exceptional. The event originated in Lenoir City, TN, and this was the first year it was held in Knoxville (on the UT campus).
Pat surprised everyone when she unexpectedly arrived at the race. She got out of the car and waved to the runners as they turned the corner at her statue. Hard to beat that!

The Pat Summitt Foundation is a fund of East Tennessee Foundation.

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ETF Planning 30th Anniversary Celebration

Next year, 2016, we will be celebrating ETF’s 30th Anniversary. To help us make it special, meaningful, and memorable, a group comprised of ETF staff and close friends of the Foundation recently gathered to brainstorm. The ideas were prolific and we want to do them all. There are exciting days ahead!!

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