New CCF director talks about organization’s reach, giving

Since taking the reins of the Claremont Community Foundation at the first of the year, Executive Director Tabatha Abeyta has been getting the lay of the land.

Ms. Abeyta is in no hurry to nix longstanding events like the nonprofit’s annual Party Parade fundraiser. “I want to keep up all the traditional work the foundation has done for the past 25-26 years,” she said.

In fact, she has attended several of the events offered as part of this year’s Party Parade.

“I’ve done galas, but I’ve never done anything like this,” Ms. Abeyta marveled. “It really is a party. Everyone has a great time. Claremont seems to enjoy fellowship.”

The next big fundraiser, Mi Casa Es Su Casa, will be held later in the spring at the Casa 425 hotel. The evening includes fine wines, spirits and craft beers complemented by appetizers from area restaurants. Proceeds will benefit the Claremont Community Foundation and the Claremont Educational Foundation.

Ms. Abeyta is delighted that the two nonprofits can share an event with a focus on the common good. “Our paths cross anyways, because we have the same kind of constituency,” she said. “I like that kind of relationship.

 The Claremont Community Foundation uses money garnered through fundraisers and from small, unrestricted donations for initiatives like its grant program. CCF awards more than $15,000 in grants, averaging from $1,000 to $2,000, each year to nonprofits serving Claremont and the surrounding communities.

Over the years, dozens of organizations have benefited from CCF grants including Ability First, House of Ruth, First Street Gallery Art Center, Claremont Heritage, Shoes That Fit, Inland Valley Repertory, Claremont After-School Programs (CLASP), Inland Pacific Ballet, Foothill Family Shelter and Pilgrim Place.

The Claremont Community Foundation has long fulfilled its mission of championing charitable giving to improve the quality of life in our city and surrounding areas. However, having gotten her start in the nonprofit arena working with grants and philanthropy for the San Diego Foundation, Ms. Abeyta has a broader view.

“San Diego was so much bigger, which makes it exciting to come to a smaller community foundation. I’ve seen how one can grow,” she said. 

Soon Ms. Abeyta and the CCF crew—which includes a 12-member board of directors and an advisory committee of former board members—will turn their focus to forming committees with themes like art and culture, education, healthcare and housing.

“I hope to engage with residents about the needs in the area and help to fill in some gaps to help make the community thrive,” she said.

Ms. Abeyta, who has a degree in business administration, has spent the last 15 years focused on healthcare fundraising. Most recently, she served as director of development with Citrus Valley Health Partners. 

Her post with the CCF is part-time so Ms. Abeyta will have time to spend with her family, which includes three children: a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 17-year old who, on graduating from Chino Hills High School, plans to study communications at Cal State Fullerton.

Much of the time Ms. Abeyta spends at the CCF office, located in the Village at the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, is focused on dispersing donor-advised funds.

“The reason community foundations exist is to make it possible for donors to give back to the areas they want to support,” she said. “They don’t have to start their own family foundation.” 

With donor-advised giving, an individual or individuals set aside money to create a fund with the CCF, either anonymously or in their family’s name.

“You don’t have to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist,” she said.  “With your local community foundation, you can start a fund for $10,000.”

Sometimes, a benefactor knows in advance where they want their money to go—perhaps to their church and a few favorite charities. In other cases, a donor has areas in which he or she would like to make an impact but is unsure of what specific organizations and programs to support. In that case, the CCF is happy to work with the giver, researching nonprofits that reflect their priorities.

Ms. Abeyta has her own priorities. She and her husband, Jesus Castañeda, each have a sister with Down’s syndrome. As a result, there is a special place in her heart for programs helping people with developmental disabilities.

“I grew up watching my sister do her running in the Special Olympics,” she said. “I also think The First Street Gallery Art Center is a really worthy cause.”

In her spare time, Ms. Abeyta enjoys hiking, going to the movies and reading. Her preferred subject matter, nonprofit management, isn’t sensational. It is, however, something she finds fascinating.

 “Social media has played a big role in where and why people give,” she said. “Younger people want to know how a foundation stewards their gifts. They want to know who the directors are. They want to be involved and be hands-on. It’s changed from the day when people sent money to nonprofits and didn’t know where it went.”

For more information on CCF, visit www.claremontfoundation.org.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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