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Second Homeowner Opens Educational Pathways for Young People

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Published on June 27, 2019

A Community Gives Back

Spanning 7,670 acres, Tahoe Donner is a planned community in Truckee, CA. Tahoe Donner’s streets wind through forested hills with some of the town’s deepest snowpack, and homeowners enjoy miles of trails, downhill and cross country ski areas, and community activities. While 80% of the population is second homeowners, Tahoe Donner Homeowners’ Association is involved in developing solutions to region-wide concerns like the local housing crisis and forest health. So it was no surprise when a small group of homeowners proposed a philanthropic arm of their community. When it comes to charity, a person generally gives back in their place of primary residence and overlooks the charitable opportunities in their second community. In 2014, the group approached Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) to alter that trend and provide an easy way for their neighbors to give back to the place they love. 

Rather than create a new charitable entity of their own, the group became a charter Tahoe Donner committee and opened the Tahoe Donner Giving Fund (TDGF), an affiliate fund with TTCF. TTCF provides operational, legal, accounting, and investment services, and TDGF leaders focus on their mission to inspire generosity and pool charitable giving among their neighbors in support of deserving programs and youth in the greater Truckee community. For greater efficiency and to leverage resources across several local giving streams, TDGF aligns its efforts with TTCF’s grantmaking and scholarship processes.  

“TDGF is run by a committee of volunteers so partnering with TTCF for much of the heavy lifting was a great choice,” commented Dick Gander, founder of the Giving Fund.

A Donor Inspired to Give More

Since its inception, TDGF’s fundraising efforts have significantly grown its charitable giving. In 2015, its first year, TDGF granted $11,090 to local nonprofits and awarded a scholarship of $1,000. In 2018, just three seasons later, TDGF granted $48,000 and awarded $12,500 in scholarships! TDGF has even retroactively extended and increased some scholarship awards. Among others, the seminal $1,000 scholarship recipient was surprised with another $1,000 the next year, and $4,000 the following! 

It was in 2017 that one homeowner picked up the Tahoe Donner newsletter and read about TDGF’s scholarship recipients. The photographs and stories of the first generation high school graduates moved her. She was inspired by the generosity of her neighbors who were taking responsibility for the area of their second homes, and wanted to support TDGF’s efforts to promote “off the hill giving”- as she calls it. 

She reached out to TDGF and TTCF and her first anonymous donation funded a 2018 TDGF scholarship. Changing a life inspired her to do more, and together TDGF and TTCF crafted a scholarship structure that would offer long-term financial assistance to students who have earned the support of their community and need help to leap into their next life chapters. 

In 2019, she provided four $50,000 Impact Scholarships to four separate first generation college students (or $10,000 a year for up to 5 years). These are TTCF’s largest scholarships to date and the students were amazed and grateful for the opportunity. First generation students face all of the ordinary challenges of college, and some unique additional challenges. Multi-year scholarships make all the difference so they can feel the support necessary to focus on their studies as much as possible. This donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, opened up an educational path to transform lives and has committed to continue this generosity on an annual basis. 

Learn more about our 2019 Scholarship Cycle.

Philanthropy: A Personal Passion

Giving back is a deeply personal thing. We give back through volunteering our time where it’s needed and advocating for those who deserve a louder voice; we work hard and donate some of what we earn to causes that resonate in our hearts; we give back by sharing our skill sets to strengthen the efforts of others. Our reasons and our actions reverberate onward in some ways that are apparent and others that are more ephemeral. All that matters is that we give. 

Inspired? You can help boost an existing scholarship or open a new one! Learn more by calling (530)587-1776 or email Phyllis McConn, Community Impact Officer, at

2019 Impact Scholarship Recipients