This initiative, dedicated to harnessing the energy, enthusiasm, and resources of young Nashville residents, started like many other great ideas, sharing a beer with friends around a kitchen table.
The Tomorrow Fund, established in 1998, has officially completed its twentieth year of operation. This initiative, dedicated to harnessing the energy, enthusiasm, and resources of young Nashville residents, started like many other great ideas, sharing a beer with friends around a kitchen table. When a young Casey West sat with his friend, Jay Williams, to discuss ways to make a positive impact in our community, they didn’t expect all the friendship, sense of purpose, and project longevity the idea they imagined would create and endure. But that’s what happened.
The group that they formed, The Tomorrow Fund, became centered around three tenets: social participation, active community service, and financial contribution to our community. According to that young Foundation President, Casey West, “the three tenets of The Tomorrow Fund are really intended to feed off one another– members will want to contribute financially because they are out in the community volunteering and learning more about nonprofit organizations, they’ll continually be encouraged to volunteer and contribute because of the friendships they’ve formed with others who do the same.”
When we sat down with Jay Williams some twenty years later, he is now co-head of the WME office here in Nashville.
Community Fundraising Events
In the early years of The Tomorrow Fund, the founding board knew that they needed to come up with innovative ways to raise money for the fund that didn’t exhaust their members’ resources. They found that path with an annual community event, and in its first years hosted a Mardis Gras-themed party at Marathon Village. The event included a 9-piece band, straight from New Orleans, providing their crowd of 250 people that upbeat ambiance that only traditional New Orleans jazz and high energy hip-hop can provide. Party-goers also enjoyed tasty Cajun fare of red beans & rice, shrimp gumbo, and other traditional dishes. Between eating and dancing, guests spent their time bidding on silent auction items and chatting about the early good works of the Tomorrow Fund board. These first events provided the template to what the events have become today, and in all, provided the funds they needed to sustain the financial growth of the Fund and impact the fund members were hoping to create through grantmaking to the nonprofit community serving children.
In the following years, members decided to keep the energy of their community events fresh by changing them up. This allowed for transitioning in and out of event formats as the members of the Board’s interest also shifted. In 2005, the ArtisTree event was launched. ArtisTree was an art show that featured paintings, prints, and jewelry by local artists, paired with wine and light refreshments for its guests.
In 2011, The Battle of the Food Trucks event was born, the same year that Zagat’s newest edition included the category of “Food Truck” as its own separate category. The event boasted upwards of 20 restaurants from the burgeoning Nashville food truck scene, where attendees were invited to sample bites and then vote for their favorites in a friendly foodie competition.
Lastly, in 2013, the event that the Fund currently throws today, Red, White & Brew was launched. Red, White, and Brew is an over the top, America-themed party, complete with costume and karaoke contests. It’s the only event in Nashville where you may hear one of your pals singing Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” dressed as Dolly Parton. Though the location has changed throughout the years from Sevier Park, the old stomping ground of Paradise Park, and this year’s event location Nashville Urban Winery, the sentiment is still the same, a good ‘ole ‘merica-yelling good time.
The Tomorrow Fund logo, created by former member Lou Chancellor, is the oak tree seedling, and this seedling represents the fund’s philosophy and mission succinctly. The metaphor often used to describe endowment funds with a Community Foundation is planting seeds for community betterment. By setting aside money in an endowment fund and allowing it to grow, early Tomorrow Fund changemakers were ensuring that their community impact, which started with small yet meaningful grants, would transform over time into strong and vibrant support for the nonprofit community.
Today, thanks to its generous supporters and volunteers, as well as the hard work of The Tomorrow Fund board throughout these twenty years through their annual events, The Tomorrow Fund has granted over $88,000 to organizations that provide services to children, predominantly focused in Middle Tennessee. It is the continued hope that members grow the fund through innovative use of social media, event planning, and networking in order to amplify the impact local young professionals are able to make by being a member of the Board or participating in one of The Tomorrow Fund events.
The Tomorrow Fund has distributed:
- $34,665 toward the education of Middle Tennessee students, including supporting several reading initiatives and easier access to early education resources for low-income families.
- $24,905 toward human services programs, including providing beds for those coming out of homelessness, food for food insecure families, and school uniforms to low-income families in need.
- $18,246 toward the health & safety of Middle Tennessee youth, including providing access to swim lessons for low-income families, family nutrition and wellness courses, and accessibility of expensive medications to medically vulnerable populations.
- $8,915 to support disaster relief organizations, including victims of the major 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake disasters.
- $2,000 to support art workshops to at risk youth living in poverty during school breaks.
|Organization||Grant Amount||Year||Program Description|
|Sweet Sleep||$5000||2018||To provide beds and bedding for up to 500 children coming out of homelessness in Middle Tennessee.|
|Community Care Fellowship||$2500||2018||To provide affordable, full-time preK childcare to low-income families in the James Cayce homes and surrounding neighborhoods.|
|Lutheran Services of Tennessee||$2000||2017||To provide community arts workshops to 80 at risk youth living in poverty during school breaks.|
|Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing||$2500||2017||To encourage early language development and healthy bonding for families of young children aged birth to 5 years of age.|
|Book'em||$2700||2017||To provide pre-literacy skills training for 300 low-income Pre-K children to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.|
|The Well Outreach||$4980||2016||To provide supplemental meals for 500 children/youth during the scheduled academic breaks to provide coverage throughout the 2016-2017 school year|
|Book'em||$2220||2016||To provide pre-literacy skills training for 100 low-income PreK children to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.|
|Salama Urban Ministries, Inc.||$1100||2015||To provide daily, year-round academic support with a literacy emphasis for up to 75 underserved youth, primarily K-8th grade.|
|Nashville International Center for Empowerment||$1100||2015||To provide standard school attire for 50 low-income refugee children who recently arrived in the United States.|
|Mother to Mother, Inc.||$2500||2015||To provide a safe sleeping environment for low income, vulnerable infants in Nashville and surrounding areas.|
|Global Education Center||$2500||2015||To offer nutrition education, healthy cooking classes with recipe modifications and active lifestyle opportunities to 80 preK students and families|
|Assistance League of Nashville||$2000||2014||To provide new standard school attire to underserved elementary students in Metro Schools.|
|Community Care Fellowship||$2000||2014||To offer educational services for children.|
|Girls on the Run Nashville||$600||2014||To provide 70 girls with the opportunity to participate.|
|Nashville Dolphins||$2000||2014||To expand programming that builds swim skills.|
|Backfield in Motion||$2000||2013||To provide tutoring after school.|
|Hands On Nashville, Inc.||$2000||2013||To support 300 youth in making healthy lifestyle choices.|
|McNeilly Center for Children||$1600||2013||To provide classroom books.|
|East Nashville Hope Exchange||$2450||2012||To improve reading ability and character development of at-risk children.|
|Project for Neighborhood Aftercare||$2450||2012||To provide homework and tutoring services for 56 students.|
|A.B.L.E. Youth, Inc.||$2000||2011||To teach independent living skills to thirty-five youth who are confined to wheelchairs.|
|Foundation for Tennessee Chess||$350||2011||To provide chess classes for 35 underserved youth, ages 5 to 12, at a local community center.|
|IKE Services||$750||2011||To provide summer academic tutoring, hot meals, transportation services to 30 children, grades K-4.|
|In Full Motion, Inc.||$750||2011||To improve ACT scores/graduation rates of students at Pearl-Cohn, Whites Creek, Stratford & Maplewood.|
|Our Kids||$750||2011||To underwrite the cost of post exposure prophylaxis medication to prevent patients from contracting HIV.|
|Assistance League of Nashville||$1635||2010||To provide new standard school attire to underserved elementary students in Metro Schools.|
|Friends of Tennessee School for the Blind||$2365||2010||To teach independent living skills to thirty-five youth who are confined to wheelchairs.|
|Global Ministries||$2688||2010||Benefiting Haiti Earthquake Relief efforts.|
|Galaxy Star Drug Awareness||$4300||2009||To expand the peacemakers program to HS students with a history of suspension/juvenile court involvement.|
|The Next Door||$4900||2008||To provide children's services in the Freedom Recovery program.|
|Rejoice Ministries||$2496||2007||To provide adolescent girls with the tools for personal development.|
|First Steps, Inc.||$3000||2006||To create an indoor therapy playground program for children with special needs.|
|KIPP Foundation||$510||2005||Benefiting the Library for KIPP Academy Nashville.|
|King's Daughters Day Home||$2350||2005||To provide books, videos, & CD's to help teachers develop better curriculum for children at the Center.|
|Save the Children||$3600||2005||Benefiting Asian Earthquake/Tsunami Fund.|
|Reading is Fundamental||$1500||2004||To supplement the purchase of 8500 new paperback books for 1600 at-risk children.|
|Hands with Heart Foundation, Inc.||$1700||2003||To provide materials for hearing impaired classrooms, home use, & camping trips.|
|Preston Taylor Ministries||$1690||2002|
|American Red Cross - Nashville||$300||2001|
|American Red Cross - Nashville||$2327||2001|
|Fannie Battle Day Home for Children||$1620||2001|
By 2005, members had donated more than 4,000 hours of community service to non-profit organizations such as The Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank, Warner Parks, Ronald McDonald House, Renewal House, The American Red Cross and many others. Since then, our Tomorrow Fund board, friends, and alumni have lost count, but the members still maintain that community service events are a capstone item in what the Tomorrow Fund provides to the local community.
In 2008, The Tomorrow Fund launched a new project called the Giving Tree. By reaching out to their own social networks with a $100 ask in the months of November and December and partnering with local childcare providers, members were able to fill a need by supporting local low-income families with their holiday shopping.
To date, The Giving Tree initiative has supported over 800 families amounting to $80,000 of assistance, and the initiative has become one of fund members favorite activities of the year. During collection week, Tomorrow Fund members and staff at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee get a special sense of satisfaction trying to fit all of the items collected from the Nashville community into a UHaul that seems to shrink every year. In the years to come, The Tomorrow Fund plans to continue to develop relationships with local businesses who also want to share the holiday spirit, allowing them to support even more families in Middle Tennessee.
The Tomorrow Fund has been a starting place for many young Nashville philanthropists just getting their start in this great city. Below is a list of The Tomorrow Fund’s current and alumni members, who in their earliest years of adulthood found it important to make their mark in Nashville through the use of their time and resources toward efforts providing community service, civic leadership, raising dollars for the local nonprofit community, and sharing their time with the other community-focused friends they would meet along the way:
Tomorrow Fund Board Member Name, Year Joined
|Annie Bachman, 1999||Katye Hughes, 2004||Christi Gibbs, 2010|
|Sarah Barr Johnson, 1999||Brad Northcut, 2004||Liz Hanandez, 2010|
|John Bass, 1999||Katie O'Brien, 2004||Tamra Jordan, 2010|
|Dierks Bentley, 1999||Chandi Patel, 2004||Samantha Oaks, 2010|
|Abbay Blankenship, 1999||Cynthia Price, 2004||Kurt Snyer, 2010|
|Sid Chambless, 1999||Zac Shoemate, 2004||Jason Tucker, 2010|
|Jay Cook, 1999||Mary Katherine Simmons, 2004||Kimball Tyson, 2010|
|Jennifer Cook, 1999||John Sisco, 2004||Chris Walker, 2010|
|Aimee Epler, 1999||Chris Strickland, 2004||Tobey Williams, 2010|
|Martin Jones, 1999||Marisa Adair, 2005||Kayla Clayborne, 2011|
|Shawna Kahlo, 1999||Aaron Armstrong, 2005||Kerry Conley, 2011|
|Edith Kirkland, 1999||Alex Brandau, 2005||Heather Dixon, 2011|
|Miles Kirkland, 1999||Chris Dowdy, 2005||Stephen Garrett, 2011|
|Leslie Levy, 1999||Joy Duong, 2005||Julie Haag May, 2011|
|Fielding Logan, 1999||Doug Finke, 2005||Dave Haddock, 2011|
|Lauren Lunsford, 1999||Taylor Gudeman, 2005||Ben Shuster, 2011|
|Bridget Mikysa, 1999||Emily Hudson, 2005||Mike Stewart, 2011|
|Leslie Norman, 1999||Kimmie Huggins, 2005||Margaret Baker, 2012|
|Sarah Roberts, 1999||Katie Jackson, 2005||Ally Parsons, 2012|
|Grant Sechul, 1999||MacKenzie McCracken, 2005||Abby Sasser, 2012|
|Ashley Smith, 1999||Carly McNeill, 2005||Scott Bannach, 2013|
|Rob Smith, 1999||Brad Northcut, 2005||Jennings Harlan, 2013|
|Jay Williams, 1999||Ross Powells, 2005||Leah Glover Hayes, 2013|
|Kerry Wilson, 1999||Cayce Publow, 2005||Cara Sweeney Ince, 2013|
|Shawn Wilson, 1999||K.J. Schumacher, 2005||Amanda Kerns, 2013|
|Carter Wood, 1999||Monica Wallis, 2005||John Rader, 2013|
|Frances Bailey, 2000||Ashley Welch, 2005||Stephanie Gambill Simkin, 2013|
|Jay Bradford, 2000||Tiffany Buntin, 2006||Grace Sweeney, 2013|
|Emory Calhoun, 2000||Joe Burchfield, 2006||Concetta Wilson, 2013|
|Lou Chancellor, 2000||Karen Gooch, 2006||Brady Adams, 2014|
|Patrick Hale, 2000||Meredith Hendrickson, 2006||Anna Gernert, 2014|
|Andy Johns, 2000||Allison Koch, 2006||Sydney Hester, 2014|
|Amy Lee, 2000||Chris Koch, 2006||Natalie Lester, 2014|
|Clay Neuman, 2000||Jessica Martin, 2006||Paige Maynor, 2014|
|Kelly Parish, 2000||James Rupley, 2006||Caitlin Robbins, 2014|
|Katherine Scott, 2000||Robin Shilling, 2006||Cale Schmit, 2014|
|Noel Anne Summar, 2000||Dowell Squier, 2006||Amy Culpepper, 2015|
|Jeff Tarumianz, 2000||Amy Tankley, 2006||Adria DeLaune, 2015|
|Amy Zimmer, 2000||Dave Carlson, 2007||Laura Delgado, 2015|
|Heath Acuff, 2001||Ted McKinney, 2007||David Garrett, 2015|
|Kevin Holmes, 2001||Jeff Moats, 2007||Ann Harlan, 2015|
|Kipp Kranbuhl, 2001||Amy Atcheson, 2009||Michael King, 2015|
|Jim Pinna, 2001||Emily Banks, 2009||Jamie Voelker, 2015|
|Lisa Quillman, 2001||Oliver Banks, 2009||Sharica Brookins, 2016|
|Margaret Bass, 2003||Allison Bates, 2009||Stephen Duckworth, 2016|
|Sara Heyburn, 2003||Jane Lynch Crain, 2009||Jeremy Duke, 2016|
|Patrick Hitt, 2003||Caitlin Doty, 2009||Julie White Garrett, 2016|
|Mary Katherine Husser, 2003||Brandon Keane, 2009||Nathan Harris, 2016|
|Presh Killebrew, 2003||Mary Katherine Martin, 2009||Hannah Krimm, 2016|
|Lauren Lane, 2003||Nicholas May, 2009||Noah Krimm, 2016|
|Erik Larsen, 2003||Brandon Miller, 2009||Addison Old, 2016|
|Lou Marchetti, 2003||Brianna Morant, 2009||Florence Sudduth, 2016|
|Julie North, 2003||Katherine Pace, 2009||Teade Tagaloa, 2016|
|Brad Northcut, 2003||Katie Pickens, 2009||Dani Ward, 2016|
|Andrew Publow, 2003||Annie Smart, 2009||Ella Watkins, 2016|
|Austin Ray, 2003||Katie Summers, 2009||Tyler Graham, 2017|
|Lauren Sims, 2003||Brook Sutton, 2009||Katlin Pendleton, 2017|
|Casey Stribling, 2003||Addison Thompson, 2009||Jamie Starling, 2017|
|Michelle Villere, 2003||Patrick Walsh, 2009||Kelli Bradbury, 2018|
|Andy Ward, 2003||Mary Katherine Barranco, 2010||Christine Locke, 2018|
|Julie Adams, 2004||Akadius Berry, 2010||Jeff Logston, 2018|
|Marisa Adams, 2004||Amy Bowland, 2010||Gabrielle Mees, 2018|
|Amy Elson, 2004||Grace Bullard, 2010||Scott Meltzer, 2018|
|Leigh Fitts, 2004||Josh Burgener, 2010||Melissa McWilliams, 2019|
|Lauren Gable, 2004||Lindsay Burgener, 2010||Meredith Taylor, 2019|
|Stratton Huggins, 2004||Heath Carver, 2010|