The Erie Community Foundation traces its history back to 1935 when Elisha H. Mack, co-founder of the Boston Store, created a charitable endowment fund. From 1935 to 1969, that sole fund fueled regional philanthropic efforts. However, after the tax reform act of 1969 created important distinctions between private foundations and public charities, Mr. Mack's fund was transformed into a public charity, The Erie Community Foundation, a process finalized in 1971.
Today, the foundation is constantly expanding its collection of nearly 500 different endowment funds, all created locally. Some funds are established during a donor's lifetime, others via a bequest. A number of local nonprofit organizations have also chosen to build endowments under the administrative umbrella of The Erie Community Foundation.
Justine Sheu didn’t have any plans of becoming an entrepreneur. The Detroit-based millennial spent her early career educating underserved youth in the area. But with the backing of a funding initiative specifically targeted to boost women and minority entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan, Sheu cofounded two education-technology startups.