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Celebrating Forty Years

Commemorating four decades of philanthropy, community support, and positive change.

orty years ago, Centre Foundation began with a simple vision: to galvanize support for Centre County’s nonprofit organizations and the invaluable services they provide in our community. This vision, which began with R. Paul Campbell in 1981, continues today under the direction of Molly Kunkel, the foundation’s current Executive Director, and an active and engaged staff and Board of Directors.

In this magazine, you’ll follow Centre Foundation’s journey from its earliest days as a volunteer-led effort to where it stands now, a trusted community partner and robust grantmaker. Many remarkable people have been involved in shaping the foundation in its first four decades. In these pages, you’ll find stories of just some of these individuals and the positive change they helped create.

Some are former board members, others established funds with Centre Foundation, and several have seen the benefits of the foundation first-hand within their own organizations. What they all have in common, however, is their enduring dedication to Centre County and the people that live here.

Judge R. Paul Campbell, founder of Centre Foundation, and his wife, Ora M. Campbell
Judge R. Paul Campbell, founder of Centre Foundation, and his wife, Ora M. Campbell were involved in numerous organizations in Centre County.
Since 1981, generous donors have invested in Centre Foundation. Today, thanks to those generous donors, Centre Foundation has invested over $31 million back into our community.
The foundation’s goal, since its inception, has been to raise money that could be distributed to local nonprofits for the benefit of our community. While the original focus was to create the organization’s structure and engage community members and donors, it was in the 1990s that the more serious work of growing endowments began. Endowments give nonprofits a stable base of income for them to provide their services. By having this consistent source of funding, nonprofit leaders can focus on serving the community in the best way possible.

This was the beginning of the foundation’s continuing efforts to explore and implement new ways for donors to experience philanthropy in Centre County.

portrait of Oscar Johnston
Oscar Johnston (OJ) served as the foundation’s board chair during 2020 and 2021.

The foundation’s goal, since its inception, has been to raise money that could be distributed to local nonprofits for the benefit of our community.

One of these ways included the introduction of donor-advised funds. This unique type of fund provides donors with the opportunity to be more engaged with their philanthropy by selecting which nonprofits they want to support with their fund each year. Another way that donors became more involved is through the formation of the Giving Circle. This program brings community members together to pool their donations to provide a $10,000 grant to the nonprofit of their choice.

Over the years, these new fund types and programs were developed to revolutionize philanthropy so it could have the biggest impact on the Centre County community. As the 2010s arrived, many nonprofits struggled to shift to online fundraising and adapt to the digital age. In response, Centre Foundation developed Centre Gives, a new online fundraiser for Centre County nonprofits, which quickly became their signature event. By leveraging the power of digital platforms, the foundation gave people a place to give online and further their philanthropic reach.

For 40 years, Centre Foundation has transformed how people support their favorite nonprofits and express their generosity to create positive change in Centre County. And this work is far from over. The foundation continues to develop innovative ways to champion local nonprofits and help donors reach their full philanthropic potential.

We hope you enjoy our story and learn about the difference just one person can make. This community’s continued generosity inspires us every day, and we hope these stories inspire you too.