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LAREF Mission and History

The Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund’s mission is the management of contributions received by the Rotary Club of Los Altos, for the purpose of dispensing grants, scholarships and charitable contributions, building an endowment for the future and to otherwise aid and support worthy organizations, whether local, national or international in nature, that are organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational or community-building purposes.

In 1978, the Club formed the Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund (LAREF). Its purpose is to create an endowed fund, the principal of which could not be spent but the income from which would be available for charitable giving by the Rotary Club of Los Altos. Initially, LAREF grew slowly, from generous donations by individual Rotarians.

LAREF grew each year. However, the successes of the Fine Art in the Park event, our charitable budget has grown substantially and now exceeds $100,000 annually. These funds are used to award scholarships to deserving students at several high schools and middle schools. In addition, LAREF also supports a number of major community projects each year as well as deserving local agencies. With the growing recognition of the world as Rotary’s community, we also undertake several international projects each year.

Channeling of Funds

In 1984, LAREF received its 501(c)3 designation from the IRS which exempts donations to it from both state and federal taxes. To take advantage of this, as well as to hasten the growth of LAREF, the Club’s finances were reorganized so that all charitable funds were “channeled” through the income account of the endowment fund, thus assuring the tax deductibility of all charitable donations, to the extent allowed by current regulations. To this end, the net proceeds from the sale of art at the art show are deposited in the income account of LAREF and from this account, all charitable expenditures are made.

Periodically, if the amount of money in the income account of the endowment fund exceeds the amount to be given away during the year, the trustees of the fund, with the approval of the Club’s Board of Directors, may move some of the excess from the income account to the principal account, or corpus, of the fund. As a result, the fund has grown in recent years; the endowment fund now totals over $600,000.

Organization of the Endowment Fund

The endowment fund, although a separate corporation, is
under the direct supervision of the Club. The fund is governed
by a Board of Trustees composed of the Club’s immediate Past-President, President, and President-Elect, plus six other Trustees elected to four-year terms by the Club’s membership. Operationally, the fund works through four committees: Investment, Contributions (local), Scholarships, and World Community Service (international). The latter three committees screen requests for donations and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees as to whether to give and how much. Before any money is donated to a charity, the decisions of the Trustees are approved or disapproved by the Club’s Board of Directors.

Criteria

The Contributions and World Community Service Committees and the Board of Trustees are guided by a set of Evaluation Criteria in making recommendations as to donations to be made by the Club. These criteria are outlined in the LAREF bylaws. The Scholarship Committee uses separate criteria based on community service, academic excellence, financial need and other factors.

LAREF Contributions

LAREF income account contributions meet a wide variety of needs, many of which change from year to year while others remain constant. For nearly 50 years, the Rotary Club of Los Altos has sponsored Los Altos Boy Scout Troop 37. Our contributions may include grants to international causes as well.Periodically the Club membership is polled to obtain suggestions and direction for future LAREF gifts. Recent contributions have exceeded $100,000 per year.