Long after it left, company's influence lives onBy RICK FOSTER , Associated Press
Jun. 15, 2013 2:16 AM ET
ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — L.G. Balfour Co. left Attleboro in 1997 as a result of a merger that relocated the company's manufacturing operations to Texas and Mexico.
But the influence of Balfour and its founder, Lloyd G. Balfour, lives on in the form of the Balfour Foundation, which provides more than $4 million a year to education, health and community-related charities, including many in Attleboro itself.
The foundation, created after Balfour's death in 1973, provides generous donations to the Attleboro Scholarship Foundation, The Literacy Center and the Attleboro Arts Museum, to name a few, as well as innovative educational programs in several states.
Recipients also include specific organizations and charities chosen by Balfour, including the Sigma Chi Foundation and Notre Dame University.
About 60 nonprofits received grants from the foundation in 2012 totaling just over $4 million, according to the foundation's filings with the IRS.
Local nonprofits have received significant support from the foundation, including annual grants to the Attleboro YMCA, the United Way of Greater Attleboro Taunton and the Community Visiting Nurses Association.
"For students who want to further their education and the Attleboro Scholarship Foundation, the Balfour Foundation has been huge," said Dan Blake, a member of the board of directors of ASF who has been active with the organization for many years.
The Balfour Foundation provides annual donations to grant scholarships to the children and grandchildren of former Balfour employees, as well as students whose families are not connected with Balfour. In 2013, ASF distributed $398,000 in Balfour-funded scholarships to 169 students. That amount represents an increase of about $100,000 from previous years.
ASF also receives other contributions and administers a wide range of scholarships on behalf of other contributors. In 2012, the scholarship foundation was the second-highest recipient of Balfour Foundation funds, exceeded only by The Boston Foundation.
During its 40 years of existence, the Attleboro Scholarship Foundation has distributed almost $7 million in Balfour funds to deserving students.
Other local groups use Balfour Foundation donations to finance day-to-day operations, as well as to pay for specific programs.
The foundation, which donated $40,000 to the Attleboro Arts Museum in 2012, is the organization's largest funder, according to Executive Director Mim Brooks Fawcett. The museum uses its grant to finance arts education programs and its museum art school.
The Attleboro YMCA, a regular beneficiary, has tapped the Balfour foundation for capital, as well as operating funds, Executive Director Robin McDonald said. One example is the Balfour Pool, a warm water therapy pool that was a result of a 1998 fundraising campaign.
The Literacy Center, which teaches literacy skills to adults, received $60,000 in 2012. Executive Director Joan Ricci said the Balfour Foundation, which allows for considerable latitude in how recipients spend the funds they get, provides the Literacy Center with flexibility in funding its operations.
"The Balfour Foundation's support is very significant for us," Ricci said. "The money we receive is for general operating support. That's a category where it's difficult to obtain funding."
Former Balfour workers and retirees aren't forgotten, either.
The Balfour Gold Dusters, a retiree organization that organizes a variety of programs and activities, received $85,000 in 2012 for assistance to retirees in purchasing prescription medicines.
Other local recipients in 2012 included the Bay State Reading Institute, Hebron Food Pantry, the Kennedy-Donovan Center, Triboro Youth Theater, Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul and the Sturdy Memorial Foundation.
The Balfour Foundation, which is administered by Bank of America, typically has an endowment of just under $100 million and is intended to be perpetual. Income arises from a portfolio of equity investments.
Organizations seeking Balfour grants must submit proposals annually by Feb. 1.
The foundation distributes grants in three primary "focus areas," according to the Bank of America website, including educational scholarships, organizations that serve the people of Attleboro and educational programs not limited to the Attleboro area. Groups in all six New England states are eligible.
Over the years, a number of innovative educational programs have received support from the foundation. Some of the recipients include Squashbusters, a Boston program that seeks to boost inner city children's achievement through the sport of squash and tutoring and homework help; Trekkers, a Maine-based youth mentoring program; and Navicate, a Vermont group that seeks to marry students' classroom learning with careers through internships, training and dual enrollment programs.