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Foundation reports assets, grants; announces Barton winners

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation announced winners of its annual nonprofit management awards, and that its assets surpassed $600 million to reach a record at year-end 2016.

At its annual meeting Wednesday evening, the Foundation’s members also elected Rodney C. Braxton to the board for a first, three-year term, while re-electing Mark C. Drennen, Perry J. Franklin, Kevin F. Knobloch and Jeffrey S. Zehnder to second terms.

Braxton is president of Southern Strategy Group’s Louisiana office. Drennen leads Cornerstone Government Affairs’ Louisiana branch, Franklin is president and founder of Franklin Associates, Knobloch is a managing director of Wells Fargo Advisors and Zehnder is founder, chairman and CEO of Zehnder Communications.

The board re-elected S. Dennis Blunt, chair; William E. Balhoff, vice chair; Annette D. Barton, secretary; Francis C. Jumonville Jr., treasurer; and Mary Terrell Joseph, at large.

The Foundation’s assets rose 9% to an unaudited $626 million in 2016 from $574 million the year before. Assets climbed on the strength of the real estate portfolio managed by Commercial Properties Realty Trust, more contributions by donors to charitable funds, and the value of those funds rising with the stock market. 

The Foundation’s assets are mostly controlled by its donors, who make grants to nonprofits from contributions to their charitable accounts, which are managed by the Foundation. About half the assets are invested in real estate.

Fund donors contributed $60 million to their charitable funds and the Foundation granted $34 million on their behalf to nonprofits in 2016. All the grants are listed in the Foundation’s quarterly magazine and annual report. About 32% of the grants in 2016 were issued to human services organizations and 22% more to education institutions.

Jennifer Eplett Reilly was named the second winner of the Marcia Kaplan Kantrow Baton Rouge Visionary Award, which was established independently by friends and family of the late Ms. Kantrow, who was the first director of programs for the Foundation.

A highlight of the meeting was announcement of John W. Barton Sr. Excellence in Nonprofit Awards winners. They are Beth Courtney of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Melissa Juneau of the Emerge Center. Sarah Broome of Thrive Academy and Lucas Spielfogel of Baton Rouge Youth Coalition won the Rising Star Awards.

In its 16th year, the Barton awards are a tribute to the late Mr. Barton, who led a group of civic leaders that formed the Foundation in 1964. Donors with charitable funds at the Foundation nominate nonprofit executives for the award, and former Foundation chairs choose up to three winners each year.