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Ligonier Valley Endowment History

The Ligonier Valley Endowment, as part of The Pittsburgh Foundation, works to improve the quality of life in the Ligonier Valley by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy and connecting donors to the central needs of the community.  Our origins trace back to the decision of Dr. Shepard L. Whitman, who, having spent his academic career extensively traveling the globe and becoming a leader in international affairs, chose to retire in the Ligonier Valley because he “was enormously impressed with the quality of life in this community.”

In 1975, Dr. Whitman’s idea to form an organization (later to be named The Ligonier Valley Endowment) was met with enthusiasm and support.  A 16 member Board of Governors was formed.  The men and women were selected then, as they are today, for their personal qualifications and to ensure that , through their participation, the broad interests and geographic area of the entire Ligonier Valley were represented.   The Endowment encompasses the geographical boundaries of the Ligonier Valley School District: Cook, Fairfield, Ligonier, and St. Clair Townships plus the Boroughs of Bolivar, Laurel Mountain Park, Ligonier, New Florence and Seward.

With community input, the Board of Governors developed the objectives of The Ligonier Valley Endowment:

  • To preserve the physical and cultural heritage of the Ligonier Valley;
  • To encourage new activities which would further enrich the community in aesthetic, educational, recreational and cultural dimensions;
  • To encourage both individuals and organizations to develop creative ideas and the initiative to carry them out.

The next challenge was developing a capital fund and the attention turned to fund raising. The community rallied to the cause with donations and fund-raisers, some in the form of direct gifts, memorials, and bequests ranging from pennies to $2000.  Their efforts were aided by a matching challenge grant from The Richard King Mellon Foundation, through which every dollar contributed to the Ligonier Valley Endowment from June 1, 1978 to December 31, 1980 would be matched.   That challenge resulted in matching gifts of $272,409.   In 1987, capitalization of The Ligonier Valley Endowment reached the $1 million mark. By the 25th anniversary, the principal was $2,782,078.43. Today The Ligonier Valley Endowment’s principal, which is managed by The Pittsburgh Foundation (www.pittsburghfoundation.org), exceeds $3 million.

The Endowment continues to rely on the generosity of the community.  All donations are tax-deductible and ensure that The Ligonier Valley Endowment can expand its grant-making ability and meet the evolving needs of the Ligonier Valley for generations to come.

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