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The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is a charitable community trust formally chartered on April 3, 1962, to accept contributions, create and administer funds, and make grants benefiting people primarily from Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, and Putnam counties. It is a collection of many separate funds, each with its own agreement, its own donors, and its own philanthropic purposes. It devotes special attention to programs in six distinct areas: arts and culture, education, health, human services, land use, and recreation.

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation began operations in 1962 with a single fund, the Frank A. Knight Memorial Fund. The Knight Fund was established with proceeds of the North-South Football Game and named for the game’s biggest promoter, Charleston sports editor Frank Knight. When that game was temporarily discontinued, its assets, amounting to about $45,000, were redirected by the circuit court of Kanawha County to the foundation to benefit the Children’s Museum and Planetarium, later a part of Sunrise Museum. A general fund was created shortly after 1962, and in 1965 the foundation made its first discretionary grant of $1,000 to Morris Harvey College, now the University of Charleston.

Governance of the foundation is vested in an 11-member board of trustees, some of whom are appointed by civic and public organizations and some of whom are elected by the board itself. The distributions committee, upon consideration of requests, recommends grants for approval by the trustees. The scholarship committee, upon consideration of applications from students, recommends approval of scholarships to be awarded based upon criteria set forth in the agreements creating each scholarship fund.

In 2021, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation managed $329 million in assets, awarded $804,178 through 359 statewide scholarships, granted $3.4 million through 101 competitive discretionary grants, and distributed more than $12.3 million across all grantmaking and scholarship programs. Since its founding in 1962, the foundation has awarded more than $183 million in grants. It is the largest community foundation in central Appalachia and consistently ranks among the top 100 in the United States. The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation is a contributor to The West Virginia Encyclopedia.

This Article was written by Becky Ceperly

Last Revised on March 16, 2023

Cite This Article

Ceperly, Becky "Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 March 2023. Web. 29 May 2024.


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