CFLeads, formerly the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth, was launched in 1991 as a vehicle to build the leadership capacity of community foundations. Its genesis was a direct response to a challenge issued at the 1989 Council on Foundations' Fall Conference urging community foundations to move beyond reactive grantmaking and become powerful voices in their communities. With generous funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, CFLeads was created and initially governed by representatives from the Atlanta, Arizona, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, and Silicon Valley community foundations.
Since its inception, CFLeads has focused on stretching the boundaries of community leadership, under the inclusive banner of children, youth and families. Community foundations appreciate CFLeads' deep reservoir of knowledge and understanding of their organizations, the consistently high quality of its work, and that it creates peer learning networks unlike anything else the field offers. CFLeads delivers products and services that are community foundation-specific, create opportunities for deep and meaningful peer interaction, and provide timely expertise at critical junctures.
Historically, CFLeads' work has been organized around the themes of linking, learning and leveraging. Over the years, we have created learning networks and scores of learning events, including executive education programs, site visits, policy workshops, topical seminars, and a popular annual conference. To encourage innovation and ventures into unfamiliar territory, CFLeads has made more than 465 grants totaling $5.3 million to 140 different community foundations. In addition, it has provided community foundations with more than $1 million in technical assistance.
More than 300 community foundations have participated in this network, including community foundations from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. In addition to contributions from community foundations, CFLeads has received support from the Carnegie, Annie E. Casey, Edna McConnell Clark, Commonwealth, Danforth, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, Robert Wood Johnson, Ewing Marion Kauffman, W.K. Kellogg, Lilly, Lumina, Charles Stewart Mott, David and Lucile Packard, and Rockefeller foundations.