In 1985, the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County Board of Directors established a Foundation to provide a means for attracting and administering funding for programs that benefit the organization's members. Over the years, the Foundation's focus has evolved from work force development initiatives to its current focus on leadership development and business education programs. Impacts from funded programs are diverse, ranging from increasing the number of qualified workers available for employment in Jefferson County to cultivating current and future leaders for public service opportunities.
Historically, virtually all Foundation revenues have been derived from grants awarded by government entities or private and public foundations. A program that no longer is in service through the Chamber is Youth Leadership Jefferson County. In recent years, sponsorships rather than grants have supported three Foundation programs:
- Leadership Jefferson County, a program developed to find the leadership needed to meet the demands of tomorrow;
- Leadership Jefferson County Alumni Association, a program that continues to develop and nurture leadership skills, provide on-going learning opportunities, encourage involvement in addressing community needs and issues, and enhances the relationships established through the Leadership Jefferson County program;
Since its inception, most administrative and operating costs of the Foundation have been borne by the West Chamber, including staff salaries or contracts, office space, and administrative support. Consequently, the majority of funding awarded through grants has been applied directly to the programs.
The Foundation is governed by a 7 person Board of Directors, at least half of whom serve as directors of the West Chamber. Foundation bylaws call for the Directors to meet at least annually, with additional meetings at the Directors' discretion. The Directors have established a mission statement and acknowledged the need for ongoing development of the Foundation to diversify funding sources and advance the mission.