The idea for the Foundation came in 1968 when Edwin K. Foos, of the Kelly-Springfield family, died. Eddie felt strongly about giving money back to Yellow Springs. He chose four Yellow Springs organizations: the Lions Club, of which he was a member, for scholarships for local high school graduates; Antioch College, which he had attended, for scholarships; the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member; and the Yellow Springs Library Association, to benefit the library in which he had spent so many enjoyable hours.
Jim Mitchell, president of the Miami Deposit Bank, was named trustee of the Edwin Foos estate. In talking with community leaders about what Eddie had done for Yellow Springs, Jim developed the concept of an organization to which individuals could bequeath funds, either for a specific purpose or for the general good of the community. His experience as the Foos trustee gave Jim insight into the difficulties of establishing a trust for a specific organization. What if that organization ceases to exist?
Jim Mitchell died unexpectedly in January 1974, just as he had begun to develop support for a community foundation. His wife, Dorothy, saw an opportunity to put Jim’s ideas into action and asked four other people to help: Perry Stewart, who succeeded Jim as president of Miami Deposit Bank; George Asakawa, president of Vernay Laboratories; Hardy Trolander, president of the Yellow Springs Instrument Company; and Philip Aultman, Village of Yellow Springs Solicitor. Together, they formed the first Board of Trustees of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation.
With an agreement on the balance between endowed and unrestricted funds, the Yellow Springs Community Foundation made its first two grants in 1975: $1,000 each to Antioch College and the Yellow Springs Senior Citizens Center. Both grants bore the stamp of Jim Mitchell. A graduate of Antioch College, Jim had cared deeply about its future during the trying times of the 1973 strike. The grant to the stabilization fund was something the trustees felt Jim would have approved. He was an active participant in the incorporation of the Yellow Springs Senior Citizens and an advocate of the organization; the trustees made this grant in Jim’s memory.
The trustees quickly learned that the Foundation could support an organization–not only with funds for projects, but also by helping nonprofits create endowment funds to support their operating expenses.