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Celebrating 20 Years Serving North Tahoe – Truckee

It all started with a phone call. Just over twenty years ago, an attorney for William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard, reached out to local attorney, Jim Porter, with a visionary idea. William was fond of the Sierra. He met his wife Flora as a child here, and they and their five children and grandchildren made happy summer memories here. He wanted to help protect and preserve the place they loved in perpetuity. 

So, William Hewlett offered the North Tahoe – Truckee community a gift of one million dollars, along with a challenge to match another million dollar gift to establish a community foundation. Igniting a dream and a passion to take care of the place we love as well, our community matched that gift and then some. With that, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) was born.

Since then, TTCF has assisted over 185 donors and organizations to establish family and Field of Interest Funds, and now has nearly $27 million in assets. TTCF has also granted over $25 million in local grants and scholarships. That’s more than $50 million benefiting our community!

Over the decades, the community foundation has evolved from the traditional role of grantmaker to also become a community leader and convener. Some of TTCF’s accomplishments include: Call to Action which raised critical support for basic needs providers during the economic downturn; promoting the Speak Your Peace Campaign for peaceful civil discourse; spearheading the establishment of Community House in Kings Beach; instituting the Give Back Tahoe Giving Season, a year-end collective giving campaign; launching the Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee; training over 100 local board members in its Board Governance Series; and bringing the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, a collaborative of forty-five health and human services agencies, under its umbrella. 

This year, TTCF celebrates our 20th year. At 20 years strong, we celebrate the stability and sustainability of our mission. In the coming year, we will reflect and explore the many aspects of who TTCF is through the stories of the individuals and milestones that helped build our organization and the programs we manage. We will also continue to examine our own value in an ever-changing community that is never stagnant and always evolving – like the Sierra itself. As the year unfolds, we look forward to sharing with you the stories and the impact that we’ve already accomplished and that we continue to pursue.

We look forward to celebrating with you, and we invite you to get to know us better. 

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation connects people and opportunities, generating resources to build a more caring, creative, and effective community. Armed with this mission, TTCF is poised to lead the community fearlessly into the future of the North Tahoe – Truckee region.

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Big wins for housing in Tahoe – Truckee

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee, Town of Truckee and Placer County took significant steps toward housing solutions the week of Jan. 8th.

The Mountain Housing Council, comprised of 25 local agencies, nonprofits, and businesses, unanimously passed policy recommendation to adopt a new definition on Jan. 12 for achievable local housing, which goes beyond traditional affordable housing definitions to include moderate and above-moderate income earners who are still unable to afford housing in the region.

“This is an important step forward in addressing the real needs in the North Tahoe-Truckee region,” said Stacy Caldwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, which facilitates the council. “This will help address the critical needs of low income residents, as well as those households in our region who find themselves in the middle income brackets – the teachers, police, firefighters, and young professionals that still can’t afford housing here.”

It will be up to each individual agency to decide if and how to implement this new policy recommendation for an expanded definition of affordability.

Additionally, both Placer County’s Board of Supervisors and Truckee’s Town Council approved a memorandum of understanding Jan. 9 with Neighborhood Partners LLC in support of $16 million in state Cap and Trade grant funding (Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program) for the already approved 56-unit affordable housing project called Meadow View Place in Schaffer’s Mill.

“This decision shows a real commitment to work together and to further transportation and housing,” said Luke Watkins of Neighborhood Partners LLC. “This is a great partnership with the town and county, and the Mountain Housing Council should be thanked for facilitating it.”

If the project is awarded the grant, it could break ground as soon as spring of 2019, Watkins said.

Also on Jan. 9, Truckee Town Council passed its annual update to traffic impact fees and facilities fees charged to new development, changing the fee structure to a per-square-foot basis, rather than per-unit basis.

“The primary goal of this change is to incentivize smaller unit types,” said Town Manager Jeff Loux. “We recognize that this may seem like a small change, but we believe it is actually a pretty significant move, and we hope other agencies will follow.”

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Queen of Hearts Awards $60,000 to local nonprofits

This December was a significant month of philanthropy for the Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund, TTCF’s women’s philanthropy program. On December 5th, supporters gathered for the fifth annual GEMS (Grant Educate Motivate Serve) Grants Showcase. After an hour of enjoying one another’s company, the Grants Showcase was standing room only as Nancy Gisko, TTCF Board Member and Queens Leadership Council member, gave an overview of the Fund’s impact. Representatives of Girls Giving Back (GGB), TTCF’s youth philanthropy project, also took the stage to speak to the history of GGB and the goals for the upcoming year.

Eight nonprofits, two in each area of the four areas of grantmaking, had just minutes to pitch their grant proposals, which were also filmed for those supporters who could not attend the event. While all nonprofits invited to the showcase are guaranteed a grant of $5000, four win supporters’ votes and $10,000 grants. Supporters have two weeks to cast their votes before winners are announced. See below for the winners, and see the photos from the event here.

Every holiday season, Queen of Hearts partners with Sierra Senior Services for the Senior Gifts Program. Volunteers adopt local senior citizens who don’t have loved ones nearby and fulfill their wish lists for things like warm sweaters, slippers, and, of course, chocolates! This year, 69 supporters adopted Seniors and made their holiday season a brighter, more cheerful time of year.

2017 GEMS $10,000 grant recipients of $10,000:

  • Arts For The Schools: Equitable Access to a Richer, More Comprehensive Education
  • Tahoe Fund: For the Sake of Clean Water and Healthy Species
  • Tahoe Safe Alliance: Creating a Safe Space to Provide Critical Services
  • Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe: Enriching After School Experiences for More Youth in 2018

2017 GEMS $ 5,000 grant recipients:

  • Truckee Bike Park/Biking for a Better World: Shaping Lives, Minds, and Tourism through Shaping Turns
  • Truckee Donner Land Trust: With Success Comes Responsibility – Stewarding our Land Acquisitions
  • Family Resource Center of Truckee: Mediation and Legal Services for Local Families
  • Tahoe Truckee Unified School District/Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships: Developing Local and National Environmental Stewards


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Give Back Tahoe Giving Season raises over half a million dollars for local nonprofits!

For the fourth year, TTCF facilitated the Give Back Tahoe (GBT) Giving Season to elevate the missions of our local nonprofits and inspire collective giving. Thanks to the generosity of you and other donors in our community, this was our most successful year to date. We leveraged over half a million dollars for 60 local nonprofits. That’s 31% more than 2016 and over $100,000 more than our projected goal!




  • 60 participating nonprofits
  • $501,820 infused into North Tahoe – Truckee (up from $382,366 in 2016)
  • $94,032 leveraged in matching grants
  • $50,000 awarded in Challenge Grants raised by TTCF
  • $2,220 raised at the Give Back Tahoe Variety Show
  • 7 nonprofits raised more than $20,000 each

With the goal of strengthening our nonprofits, helping them develop their year-end fundraising techniques, and connecting them with new donors, Give Back Tahoe builds each year. This year, we focused on helping our nonprofits strengthen their community presence through social media, video storytelling, and the first ever Give Back Tahoe Variety Show. To encourage nonprofits to connect with new and past donors, TTCF secured $50,000 in Challenge Grants. Challenge Grants make it possible to award nonprofits and their donors for exemplary fundraising efforts through specific challenges throughout the first two weeks of the Giving Season, November 28th – December 12th. With this added incentive to push harder, seven nonprofits raised over $20,000 each! See who won the Challenge Grants on the Leaderboard.

The Give Back Tahoe Variety Show was a live, telethon style fundraising event that was live-streamed online, on TV, and on the radio and aired on TV four times through December 31st. The live event was an extremely fun and dynamic opportunity to celebrate our community and featured four local performing acts. Nonprofits were also invited to create and perform two minute skits, and they delivered everything from on-stage science experiments to improv dance performances. The Variety Show offered nonprofits an opportunity to strengthen their message, and raised community awareness of our nonprofit sector. To see some of the show for yourself, check out the highlight reel or view the photo album on facebook.

Through online marketing strategies, nonprofits have created a long term engagement and conversion funnel that will build throughout the year. They were also able to test what works and doesn’t for their audiences. Nonprofits were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Give Back Tahoe Giving Season once again. In the past four years, Give Back Tahoe has raised over $1.36 million for our region, and built a stronger nonprofit sector.

TTCF is grateful for our Business Sponsors who help make the campaign a reality! If you’re interested in helping make the Give Back Tahoe Giving Season even more impactful, contact Ashley Cooper, Communications Manager, at ashley@ttcf.net.

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TTCF welcomes Mike Livak as new Chief Financial Officer

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) announced that Mike Livak has been named Chief Financial Officer. Livak will be responsible for the design, operation, and oversight of the financial functions of the Foundation including all aspects of financial management and reporting.

“We are excited to welcome Mike to the TTCF team and believe his extensive experience in the private sector will prove a valuable asset to support the future growth and impact of our mission,” said Stacy Caldwell, TTCF CEO.

Mike Livak grew up in Reno, Nevada, and has been a part of the North Tahoe – Truckee community for over twenty-five years. He attended UCLA and earned his MBA with an emphasis in Finance and Marketing at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. From 1999-2017, Mike held various executive management positions at both Squaw Valley Ski Resort and Royal Gorge, LLC. He also served on the Squaw Valley Ski Resort Board of Directors for ten years.  His most recent position was Squaw Valley Executive Vice President.

Mike has experience in everything from marketing, community and governmental relations, land planning, development and redevelopment, to quantitative, analytical, and project management skills. Mike’s twenty years in senior management and his deep knowledge of our region will be invaluable to TTCF.

Mike and his wife Kirsten Livak, a social worker and licensed mental health therapist, live in Truckee with their son and daughter, ages 17 and 13. In addition to skiing and spending time outdoors with their family, Mike and Kirsten have been involved with a variety of community organizations.

Please join us in welcoming Mike to our TTCF family! He can be reached at Mike@ttcf.net.

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Nonprofits and Foundations set to lose on Tax Bill

Congress is poised to pass a set of wide-reaching tax changes this week that have been roundly criticized by nonprofit and philanthropic groups, with a vote in the House planned for Tuesday and a Senate vote expected to follow shortly thereafter.

On Friday evening, before members of Congress left Washington for the weekend, House and Senate conferees released a draft of a bill that merged legislation previously passed by the two chambers. Charity advocates quickly pounced on the conference report, saying it would reduce giving by up to $20 billion a year.

“The changes proposed in the tax code would fundamentally weaken the ability of charitable organizations to raise money, provide services, and benefit our communities,” wrote Dan Cardinali, president of Independent Sector; Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits; and Vikki Spruill, president of the Council on Foundations, in a joint statement.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress and appear to have the votes they need to send the legislation to President Trump for his signature. Still, the charity leaders urged their members to press lawmakers to vote down the tax overhaul, saying it “increases the tax burden on charitable organizations, as well as the most vulnerable people in our country, to give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest among us.”

The bill would double the standard deduction taxpayers can take as an alternative to itemizing their taxes, which would effectively eliminate the tax incentive for all but the wealthiest Americans to donate to charity. To maintain the incentive, many nonprofits pushed unsuccessfully for a “universal deduction” that would allow all taxpayers to claim charitable deductions even if they don’t itemize.

Nonprofit advocates did beat back a provision that was in the House version of the bill that would have weakened rules that prohibit nonprofits from supporting and contributing to candidates and campaigns. Many nonprofit leaders feared that the proposed change in what is known as the “Johnson Amendment” would have eroded the public trust in nonprofits and flooded “dark money” into charitable organizations.

House and Senate conferees agreed to drop the Johnson Amendment changes late last week, mainly because it violated complex congressional procedural rules.

Tax-Bill Provisions

Here how lawmakers dealt with other provisions that affect charities and nonprofits, according to the National Council of Nonprofits and other sources that have analyzed the bill:

  • The estate tax, which provides an incentive for the wealthy to give to charity to reduce their tax burden, was maintained. However, the exemption was doubled to about $22 million for couples, shielding all but the most wealthy from the levy.
  • The bill would place a new 1.4 percent excise tax on investment income on some private colleges and universities with very large endowments.
  • Charities would be hit with an excise tax of 21 percent on compensation above $1 million for a nonprofit’s top five highest-paid employees.
  • No changes were made to the excise tax on foundations’ investment income. Foundation advocates had pressed to change the current two-tiered tax, which is either 1 percent or 2 percent, depending on a grant maker’s payout history, to a flat 1 percent.
  • No changes were made to policies regulating donor-advised funds. Some nonprofit tax experts had pushed for Congress to include a mandatory payout for the funds. The House version of the bill did not go as far; it included a provision that funds develop a policy on idle accounts and report their payout totals annually. Those provisions were not included in the final bill.
  • Donors would be able to receive a charitable tax deduction for cash gifts of up to 60 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from the current limit of 50 percent.
  • No changes were made to tax-exempt private-activity bonds, which some nonprofits use to finance community-development projects. The House version of the bill would have eliminated their use.


This Chronicle of Philanthropy article, by Alex Daniels, provides a roundup of the policy provisions in the tax bill that will affect the nonprofit sector. Look for Part II coming in January. You can read the original article here.

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Truckee Chamber Introduces New Truckee Core Values Event Fund

TRUCKEE, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2017) – The Truckee Chamber of Commerce announced today that it has created the Truckee Core Values Fund to help support events that reinforce the town’s corevalues. The fund will be powered by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF), with funding provided by the Town of Truckee.

The purpose of this fund is to provide grants for events in Truckee that accomplish two things; high local citizen participation, and strong alignment with at least one primary Truckee core value: Healthy Lifestyle; Family Friendly; Natural Beauty; Community Minded; Arts, Culture and History.

“The Truckee community identified quality of life as their #1 reason for living here, based upon five core values. We gathered this data via four public workshops and two online surveys conducted in 2015 as part of the Truckee Tomorrow, Place Based Marketing Initiative,” said Colleen Dalton, brand communications director for the Truckee Chamber of Commerce.

Unlike past Truckee Chamber event grant funds focused on tourism, these grants are available for year-round events as long as they meet the two most important criteria: local engagement andcore value alignment.

The process begins by submitting a letter of interest explaining how/why your non-profit organization would qualify for funding. Letters are being accepted at TTCF until November 30, 2017.

Visit www.truckee.com/corevaluesfund to learn more about the letter of interest submission process, guidelines, and timeline.

Press Release Provided by Truckee Chamber of Commerce

About Truckee Chamber of Commerce

The Truckee Chamber of Commerce is a business membership organization that develops and promotes local business, tourism and community engagement. With 630 members representing over 7,000 jobs, the Chamber is the largest, most connected business organization in Truckee. The Chamber’s three areas of focus are economy, tourism and community. For more information on the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, visit www.truckee.com, follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/truckeechamber or in person at 10065 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161.

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Consolidated Grant Cycle Awards over $300,000 to Local Nonprofits

View the 2017 Consolidated Grant Recipients

In the 2017 consolidated grant cycle, we awarded 41 nonprofits more than more than $300,000 in TTCF-facilitated grants. This includes funding from Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund, Tahoe Donner Giving Fund, and a generous match from Martis Fund that once again supported our Nature Grant funding.

30 nonprofits received nearly $200,000 in mission-driven, unrestricted funding. This is the most difficult funding to secure and TTCF is proud to be able to offer these uncommon grants on behalf of our generous donor base. Another three nonprofits received capacity-building grants, while over $100,000 went to programs and projects that serve the North Tahoe – Truckee region.

Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund will host its annual GEMS (Grant Educate Motivate Serve) Event on December 5th. Nonprofit grant finalists chosen through the consolidated grant cycle will present their proposal to Queen of Hearts supporters who will then vote online for their favorite nonprofits across four categories.

TTCF has served our community for nearly twenty years. In that time, we have provided over $23 million in grants and scholarships to the North Tahoe – Truckee region. In 2016, after an in-depth assessment and development process, TTCF consolidated all of our previous grant cycles into a streamlined process. Now, nonprofits apply to all available TTCF-facilitated grants through a single common application. Nonprofits are encouraged to share the true scope of their needs so that TTCF can develop over-arching capacity-building approaches to serve our sector, for example the Board Training Series.

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Mountain Housing Council Hosting Public Think Tank: Employer Tailored Housing Solutions

A Public Think Tank: Employer Tailored Housing Solutions
Date: October 25, 2017
Time: 6pm -8pm
Location: North Tahoe Event Center 8318 N. Lake Blvd, Kings Beach, CA 96143
Hosts: Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee, Truckee Chamber of Commerce, North Lake Tahoe Chamber

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee will host A Public Think Tank: Employer Solutions to discuss creative ways businesses, special districts, non-profits, and government agencies can help address housing issues for their staff.

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee is hosting the event Oct. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach to provide information, tools and ideas for employers and community members alike. The evening will include a panel discussion on how the housing crisis affects our local economy, speakers sharing ready-to-implement solutions for employers, an open “Solutions Slam” for community members to share their own ideas and networking with other community members and business owners.

“The housing crisis is impacting our business community in a very serious way. There’s an urgency to identifying solutions that can alleviate the situation sooner than later.  The good news is we are discovering innovative business owners and programs that are starting to help solve the problem,” said Kristin York with Sierra Business Council, who will moderate the panel.

Panelists include: Joy Doyle, North Tahoe Business Association, Lynn Saunders, with the Truckee Chamber of Commerce and Cindy Gustafson, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. Presenters include: Donald Terry, Neighborworks Home Ownership Center, Jaime Wright, Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association and Kay Hartman, Mammoth Community Water District. Additional guests have been invited to participate during the solutions slam, an open-mic, fast-paced, community opportunity to share best ideas for solutions. Katie Rice with Guild Mortgage and Dave Wilderotter, owner of Tahoe Dave’s, will get the slam started.

For those of you that cannot attend, it will be live-streamed on Truckee Tahoe Community Television at www.ttctv.org.

The Mountain Housing Council, a project of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, is comprised of 25 community, business and public agency  partners working to accelerate solutions to local housing issues. To find out more about the Council, its work and potential housing solutions being considered go to mountainhousingcouncil.org.

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TTUSD School Year Launches with Strong Mental Health Supports

In a lot of ways, growing up in a rural mountain community is idyllic: fresh air, land to roam, and a tight-knit community. Still, many families living in North Tahoe – Truckee are highly impacted by stress.

Adverse experiences such as poverty, substance abuse, immigration status, trauma, learning difficulties, emotional or mental health disturbance, and the stress of adolescence affect many of our young people. In fact, 35% of 11th grade students enrolled in Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) report chronic sadness and hopelessness which, according to California Health Kids Survey, is higher than nearby school districts and California overall. Rural Placer and Nevada Counties have double the National Average for youth suicide. (Learn more here).

Providing adequate mental health services in rural communities is a challenge across the country. Chronic shortages of mental health professionals and specialized services, higher rates of stigma, and difficulties accessing available health care create significant barriers for our residents.

To tackle these issues, the Tahoe Truckee Youth Health Initiative formed four years ago as a collaborative effort between the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee (CCTT), Nevada County, Placer County, Tahoe Forest Hospital, and TTUSD. The Initiative focuses on providing evidence based, researched programs to address youth mental health, specifically through the Youth Wellness Program.

The program is comprised of Wellness Centers at Truckee and North Tahoe High Schools, and programs at Sierra High, the Community School (Placer County Court School), North Tahoe Middle School, and Alder Creek Middle School. The TTUSD Wellness Coordinator oversees two Wellness Liaisons and Gateway Mountain Center staff who work directly with youth to educate and empower them to have a voice in their own health care decisions. Programs have focused on mindfulness-based interventions, with thirty-five years of research showing that mindfulness strategies improve attention, self-control, emotional resilience, addiction recovery, and immune system health.

This strategic and collaborative approach has drawn the attention of like-minded funders like S.H. Cowell Foundation, local foundations, and donors who are committed to our region’s young people. Rob Katz, Vail Resorts CEO and Chairman, and his wife Elana Amsterdam, cookbook author and founder of Elana’s Pantry, made personal donations to the Wellness Program. Rob and Elana are well known for their generous community philanthropy, and reached out to Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) to facilitate their recent $125,000 grant.

“The welfare of children and families in our local communities who are most vulnerable requires our attention and we feel fortunate to be able to support some outstanding non-profit organizations who work tirelessly to serve them,” said Rob Katz. “We hope our contributions serve as a catalyst for others to join our efforts to help ensure the vibrancy of these incredible cities and towns.”

Rob and Elana’s donation to the Youth Wellness Program is already having an impact in our community.

The Link Crew: Launched this fall, Link Crew is a freshman transition program that trained high school juniors and seniors at TTUSD high schools to be positive role models for incoming freshmen. 84 leaders welcomed approximately 316 ninth graders into their first year of school, and will continue to provide mentorship throughout the rest of their high school career.

Mindfulness & Wellness Programming: Providing training to K-12 teachers and staff to integrate wellness programming and Mindfulness Based Practices into the school day to increase resiliency and healthy coping practices for both staff and students. This portion of the grant also expanded wellness programming both during and after the school day.

Mindfulness Based Substance Abuse Treatment (MBSAT): Piloted for the first time at Truckee Community School, Gateway Mountain Center will expand MBSAT to additional high school sites and after school at their new Youth Wellness Center across from Truckee High School. MBSAT is an evidence-based approach that approaches potential and existing at-risk behaviors in youth by empowering young people to make healthy decisions. Funding will also expand special classes in mindfulness and emotional regulation at Truckee Elementary and Truckee High School.

Measuring Impact: Using a Results Based Accountability (RBA) framework, CCTT partners will track community indicators and relevant data to measure youth substance use and abuse, social connections, and wellbeing. This data is used to continue to adapt programming to serve our youth.

Through these broad-reaching programs, the Youth Wellness Program anticipates that it can optimize its impact on local youth by meeting students where they are and engaging them in evidence-based programs.

“Wellness services provide real-time support for youth facing the challenges of adolescence, which can be compounded living in a rural area. We are fortunate to have a school district and community-based organizations who are committed to providing holistic health services geared toward our youth,” said Alison Schwedner, CCTT director.



Photograph provided by Granlibakken Tahoe. 

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