Our History

In the early 1970s, members of the Rotary Club of Grants Pass began discussions about the need for a community foundation — an autonomous, publicly supported, non-sectarian philanthropic organization with the long-term goal of creating a permanent vehicle to provide broad-based charitable benefit to the residents of Josephine and western Jackson counties. Excitement and commitment to the idea continued to build and in June of 1975, the Four Way Foundation was officially incorporated.

Much background work was done in the ensuing years, and in 1981 the fledgling Foundation undertook an initial development program, raising just over $50,000. This same year, the Foundation made its first award – a small scholarship at Rogue Community College – the Foundation’s first return on the community’s faith and investment. Two years later, in 1983, the Foundation made its first grant, awarding $5000 to SPARC in support of a building project.

In 1985, the Foundation awarded $10,810 in grants to six different nonprofits and scholarship committees and every year since has awarded grants and scholarships to organizations and individuals across the service area.

Originally all work of the Foundation – from clerical to investing – was done by the 12 member volunteer board of directors. As the Foundation grew in both size and complexity, however, so did the tasks necessary to maintain the organization and further its goals.

In 1996 the board decided its investment duties required more time and attention than volunteers were able to provide and elected to engage professional investment managers to address the needs of managing, building and protecting the corpus. After lengthy review, the Portland firm of Ferguson Wellman was selected to manage and invest the Foundation’s portfolio and continues to do so today.

By 2000, the Foundation had grown to the extent that its daily business required a part-time executive director.

The board remains committed to holding operational costs to a minimum. Three-quarters of one percent of the Foundation’s holdings is used annually to pay for the services of the investment managers. Another one percent is allocated for operational costs and accounting services.

The Foundation takes pride in being home grown and able to effectively address a wide range of community needs through ongoing support of nonprofits and educational institutions.