For the past 50 years, the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties has been a steadfast leader in building vibrant communities through visionary philanthropy. Since joining the foundation as its president and CEO in March, Danita D. Nias has been setting the course for the foundation’s next half-century of impact throughout its footprint.
“There is abject poverty on one side of Palm Beach County, and on the other side there is incredible wealth,” she says. “I am amazed at how strongly our community’s philanthropists want to make systemic change happen — that’s where our capabilities converge and transformation can begin,” she says.
In addition to the approximately $17 million in grants and another $1 million in scholarship support distributed each year, Nias and the foundation’s Board of Directors are moving the foundation into the role of catalyst for big ideas that transform communities.
One example: Children’s mental health, particularly in disadvantaged areas such as Belle Glade. Nias has pulled together the research expertise of the Rebound & Recovery Program at Florida State University’s College of Social Work with the outstanding infrastructure of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County to bring mental health services to young children at all of the clubs’ locations.
“We believe this program can help children navigate the destabilizing effects that the pandemic has had on their community and family life — and we’re just getting started,” says Nias. “Thanks to our historic connections, we are uniquely positioned to convene the partnerships that truly address pressing needs.”
With more than 25 years in higher education leadership, strategic planning and fundraising, Nias sees the foundation’s capacity to amplify the breadth and depth of its support for local nonprofits through meaningful philanthropy.
“Our donors end up being the wind behind the sails of the changemakers,” she says. “Our role is to connect their passions with our community’s possibilities.”