Honoring a love of the arts

After her husband Bill passed away, Jeanne Shanks wanted to commemorate his memory by extending support to the local theater and arts organizations he deeply cherished during his lifetime. ““When he died, Bill had just begun his term as President of the board of Red Mountain Theatre. He loved Red Mountain Theatre. He loved Birmingham Festival Theatre and the Virginia Samford Theatre. We went to the Alabama Symphony and Opera Birmingham. He loved the arts. So that’s why I set up the Shanks Fund for Theatre and Performing Arts,” she says.

Not only is Shanks a donor, she participates in the Community Foundation’s Giving Together program and has also served on the Foundation’s grantmaking site review committee. “It’s always very interesting,” she says. “The Community Foundation staff does a lot of research to find out what the area’s needs are and what communities are being underfunded. By serving on a site review committee, I get to go with staff members and be a part of assessing what grants would be most effective in addressing those needs.”

Shanks praised the Community Foundation’s organized approach to grantmaking and the lengths it goes to in order to learn how each organization works and to ensure every grant application is reviewed. “That’s why I have confidence in them and what they’re doing,” Shanks says. “They are excellent leaders.”

Even though she has no other family here, Shanks made a conscious decision to stay in Birmingham after Bill’s death because she is so involved in the community and invested in seeing it be the best it can be. “I think Birmingham is making so much progress, and we can make more,” she says. “And it is vital to have performing arts. It enriches everyone’s life. Bill and I believed that every child should have the opportunity to access theater, art, and music. I think that through the Giving Together program, my fund, together with the grants from the Community Foundation, is helping to make that happen.”

About Giving Together

The Community Foundation’s Giving Together program invites donors to the grantmaking table to collectively invest with the Community Impact Fund as part of our grantmaking process. Through the Giving Together process, donors have the opportunity to learn more about the innovative work of local nonprofits that are addressing important areas of need while co-investing with the Foundation to stretch our grantmaking impact.