Donor Spotlight: Dale & Nancy Dougherty

Dale and Nancy first connected with the Community Foundation Sonoma County through a giving circle they helped formed in the fall of 2000. The twelve members shared concern over the decline in public education and the escalation of school violence, and they were interested in pooling resources for giving based on new venture philanthropy models being tried out around the country. Community Foundation staff came to speak with the group about trends in the giving field and continued to support their work to create a funding plan.

The giving circle’s goal was to strengthen the counseling services for the three Sonoma County High Schools by ensuring that a therapeutic counselor was present on campus for students every school day. This was the only focus initially, but over time, the group, the Teen Counseling Project of Sonoma County, became much more. Working closely with the West County Union High School District, they developed a Speakers Series for 9th Grade Health Curriculum, an Intern Program, and a Film Series for parents and students. The Teen Counseling Project developed into its own hybrid of advocacy group and social service agency, all the while under the guidance of very involved Community Foundation staff.

For the last few years, Nancy has also been working with the Center for Creative Arts, which runs art programs to foster personal growth and expression for underserved populations. An art therapist who leads a group of women at The Living Room observes how the art-making process increases their self-esteem and resourcefulness. Another art therapist at The Children’s Village has the children visualize their lives, creating Wishing Bracelets to honor their dreams and Trees of Love to teach them how to love themselves. She observes how the children show greater expressions of empathy and happiness in response to their art projects.

Dale’s work as founder and publisher of Make and the creator of Maker Faire opened up new ways for the couple to impact education. Nancy and Dale support hands-on experiential learning that engages students, particularly those poorly served by traditional academic approaches. In 2010, Dale launched a pilot make class at Analy High School and a summer Maker Camp at Comstock Middle School. More than half of the grants awarded from the Dougherty’s donor-advised fund have gone to school-related purposes, primarily supporting programs that encourage students to develop new skills and creativity.

Community Foundation Sonoma County is proud to partner with the Doughertys and support their thoughtful, innovative investment in our community.

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