Positively Affecting the Lives of Others Community Foundation for Brevard

Sometimes called  “best kept secrets,” community foundations are powerful entities through which people can invest in their communities and achieve life-long philanthropic endeavors. Such is the case with the Community Foundation for Brevard, whose purpose transcends simply matching the desires of donors with the interests of the community or awarding grants and scholarships.

“We embody the philosophy of community members coming together to advance worthy ideals and positively affect the lives of others,” said Theresa Grimison, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “By making this our mission, we can continue to strengthen our region.”

Lisa Davidson, the Foundation’s director of Strategy and Communications, believes many people want to give back and are passionate about meeting specific community needs. “We help those with philanthropic goals identify ways in which they can make the greatest impact,” she said. “We also work with community leaders and private foundations to address both current and emerging needs.”

Many local residents are grateful the Foundation is here to help them maximize their philanthropic efforts.

Targeted Giving

For Michael Shannon, the inspiration to give back came after a strategic financial review with his stockbroker, who provided him with critical estate planning advice. His advisor pointed him to the Community Foundation, where Shannon created customized plans to support animal-related initiatives.

Since establishing the MNT Fund in 1998, Shannon has continued to invest and provide critical support to organizations like Aiding Space Coast Animals Project’s “Snip-a-Pit” spay and neuter program, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute for the local stranding program, and Walk on Water’s equine-assisted therapy.

Two years ago, he created the Missy and Tony Shannon Memorial Scholarship Fund with the Community Foundation to support students at Eastern Florida State College’s vet tech program.

“I’ve seen the Foundation’s growth and impact for years,” he said. “I know it will last forever, and I enjoy being part of the entire process.”

Paul and Shirley Friedland’s philanthropic inspiration came from significant life events in addition to Shirley’s nonprofit career during which she builds awareness and support for are medical conditions. While working on their estate plan, the Friedlands considered establishing a private foundation until their attorney told them about the advantages of working with the Community Foundation. With multiple interests and a range of solutions at hand, the Friedlands established a donor-advised fund for its flexibility and limitless scope. They also established a field of interest fund to support innovative advances in the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer. Informed by extensive national research, the fund provided critical seed funding for work performed at Duke Cancer Institute in 2017.


“We embody the philosophy of community members coming together to advance worthy ideals and positively affect the lives of others.”

– Theresa Grimison


“Last November, we held a fascinating Skype video call with the researcher and his graduate and post-doctorate students at Duke to learn what they accomplished in the past year,” explained Shirley. “They gave us a wonderful, in-depth review of the work, which was inspiring.

Representing the Holton Family Fund, Doug Holton recently joined the Foundation. He and his wife Kathy, both retired from the Air Force, had been involved with a number of charities. However, they were looking for a way to affect change more directly.

“At some point, we had an awakening and decided we wanted to do hand-up activities rather than handouts,” he said. “We want to do things we feel will make a real difference in our community.”

Holton researched organizations that fit his criteria and discovered Family Promise of Brevard, which works to end family homelessness. While serving on the Family Promise board, he learned about the Community Foundation and its breadth of services. From there, he and his family created the Holton Family Fund, which aligns with their hand-up philosophy and allows them the flexibility to offer grants toward issues that matter the most to them and in a way they believe will offer the best long-term outcomes.

Making an Impact

Volunteering as a grant reviewer brought Art Schmitt into the Community Foundation fold, and he now serves on its board of directors. “The more I learned about the Foundation, the more amazed I was by its world-class capabilities and its customized approach to philanthropy,” said Schmitt. “It’s important that everyone in Brevard knows about and joins the Community Foundation because we have better leverage when we all work together.”

Michael Shannon, Paul and Shirley Friedland, Doug and Kathy Holton, and Art Schmitt represent the many different faces of philanthropy in our community. Together with the Community Foundation for Brevard, they represent true social entrepreneurship in action, helping to make the Space Coast a stronger, more vibrant community for everyone who lives here.


Want To Learn More?

For more information on Community Foundation for Brevard, please visit www.cfbrevard.org.