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Island couple’s $5M pledge to ‘give it forward’

Longtime John’s Island residents Dace and King Stubbs have given the Indian River Community Foundation a $5 million commitment as a lead gift to a new Giving Forward Leadership Initiative.

Foundation President and CEO Jeffrey Pickering announced the launch of Giving Forward at a reception at Northern Trust Bank on Feb. 20, explaining that their goal is to raise $50 million by 2026 to enable permanent support for several key initiatives.

Well-known for their philanthropy both in Vero and in their home state of Kentucky, Dace and King Stubbs are founding members of the Community Foundation, and its Alma Lee Loy Legacy Society.

The Stubbs’ lead gift, Pickering said, will be focused on the portfolios of proven programs and promising practices that will essentially help strengthen our community.

Twenty million dollars would sustain proven programs in areas that address community needs, with $10 million would support the collaborative development of promising practices aimed at filling gaps that are not currently being met.

The Foundation’s endowments would benefit from $10 million, to underwrite its unrestricted grantmaking, and its operating expenses.

Five million dollars would support a Path to Prosperity endowment for college readiness and scholarship programs for students from vulnerable populations. Another $5 million would go toward the development and delivery of data, information and analysis to promote informed and effective local philanthropy.

Dace Stubbs, speaking on behalf of her family, said their primary philanthropic interests have been health, conservation, and education.

“The Community Foundation, obviously, is of great interest and what it does for all of us,” she said.

Pickering said the Stubbs had surprised him with the idea of wanting to gift something now rather than later; to give forward rather than afterward through their estate.

“Giving Forward was such a great concept, and I knew I really could give now, but we are all so brainwashed to give in our wills,” said Dace Stubbs, whose grandfather George Gavin Brown founded the Brown-Forman corporation in Kentucky. Brown-Forman began producing Old Forester Bourbon and branched out to acquire brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Chambord and Korbel. Stubbs was the first woman to serve on the Brown-Forman Board of Directors.

“I just decided, why not watch your gift? You can’t watch it when you give it through your will. And that meant a lot to King and to me, to be a part of the community and watch what we are able to help make happen. And so that was the mission,” Dace Stubbs said.

Pickering said he, too, is looking forward to watching the impact of their gift, and where it might lead.

Stubbs said she would absolutely encourage others to consider gifts to the initiative.

“I totally encourage it because if you can do it now, now is when it’s going to come back to you. Your heart is going to feel all the energy. This is a great mission for such a great community. I mean, how lucky we all are,” she said.

“We’ve said it a dozen times up here, but this is an organization that deserves to grow. And when it grows, our community is going to grow.”

Statistically, Pickering said Indian River County households, at all levels of household income, give at twice the rate of the national average.

Despite all that philanthropy, including more than $220 million in cumulative foundation grants to charities over its 16-year history, he said their research indicates that only 10 percent of nonprofits had more than 12 months savings on their balance sheets.

A Transfer of Wealth study they conducted predicts that conservatively, some $50 billion will transfer among resident household beneficiaries over the next 50 years.

“And that amount represents the largest untapped pool of potential charitable dollars to support our nonprofit sector,” said Pickering.

He added that if local charities could capture just five percent of that, a pool of some $2.5 billion could be set aside for the permanent support of the nonprofit sector, ensuring their sustainability for future generations. The Giving Forward initiative is a step in that direction.

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