A Century of Service. Giving for Good.

Luca Foundation Finds Home at the St. Louis Community Foundation

Luca Foundation Finds Home at the St. Louis Community Foundation

The St. Louis Community Foundation is excited to welcome the Luca Foundation as a new fund, with a mission to support nonprofit organizations providing medical, financial, educational, and technological support to children and families affected by childhood disease and/or disability. The Luca Foundation was established in honor of Luca Gruszka, an eight-year-old third grade student who attends Henry Elementary School, who was diagnosed with leukemia on December 12, 2016.

The Luca Foundation was started by Steven D. Snodsmith, President and CEO of PLM, and Matt Lanzone, Chief Operating Officer of Superior Building Group, who are close friends of the Gruszka family. When Luca was diagnosed, Steven and Matt knew immediately the type of financial burden this could have on the family. However, to create the financial impact that they both had envisioned they knew they needed to create a team of people to help.  Together they reached out to Edward Matejcic, James Sindelar, Tim Shocklee, and Brad Garlich who along with Matt and Steven became the “Founders” of the LUCA Foundation.  These guys all have the ambition and passion to create a difference in the lives of children and families that are in similar situations as the Gruszka family.   

Driven by their passion for helping others and love of Luca and his family, Steven and Matt contacted four additional friends, to create the Friends of Luca, to help coordinate and execute their first fundraising initiative – a golf tournament titled, The 1st Annual - Tee It Up For Luca, which took place at Tapawingo National Golf Club on October 3, 2017.

After months of planning and securing partnerships, the golf tournament raised close to $100,000, which would not only support Luca, but other families and young children who are facing major health crises.

In addition to the funds used to support Luca’s medical stay and treatments, students at Southwest Middle School helped to raise funds that were used to help him attend school virtually via a telepresence robot. Using the robot, he was able to log in from home and learn daily routines, meet his classmates, as well as study math and reading.

“When we visited Luca in the hospital, we saw other kids and families who needed help,” said Steven. “We realized how important education is when a child cannot attend school due to a medical illness, and so our primary purpose is to help kids like Luca.”

Luca has an aggressive three-year treatment plan, but he has proven to be a strong fighter and champion throughout the process.

“Luca has been incredibly strong throughout the entire process. He has been the one who has kept our spirits up. Luca is very perceptive; he knows exactly when to give you a hug, make a silly face, or tell a joke, said Angela Gruzka, Luca’s mom. “As his parents we should be the one helping him, but it is reciprocal. He has helped carry us through the last year with his sense of humor. I named him The Charming Fighter.”

Friends of Luca, along with the Gruszka family, presented a check in the amount of $46,500 to the St. Louis Community Foundation on December 28, 2017, to officially begin their charitable partnership.

The St. Louis Community Foundation will work with the Luca Foundation by providing strategic guidance in philanthropic grant making, in an effort to achieve the greatest impact in the St. Louis community.


To learn more about Luca’s story, visit his page on CaringBridge.org or ‘like’ the Luca Foundation on Facebook - @lucafoundation.

Pictured: (left to right) Front row: Roseanna Gruszka, Jered Gruszka, Roco Gruszka, Luca Gruszka,
(left to right) Back row: James Sindelar, Matt Lanzone, Angela Gruszka, Edward Matejcic, and Steven D. Snodsmith.

2017: A Record-Setting Year for the St. Louis Community Foundation; $79.1 Million Granted to Nonprofits

Calendar year 2017 was a banner year for the century-old St. Louis Community Foundation, officials announced today.

Most notably, the Foundation and its donors channeled $79.1 million dollars through 5,500 grants to nonprofits in St. Louis and around the world. Both figures eclipsed last year’s totals of 4,000 grants valued at $40 million. Nearly 85 percent of the grant dollars stayed in St. Louis helping regional nonprofits in 2017 and 2016.

Previously, the Foundation’s highest grant-making year was 2015 with 1,867 grants, totaling $63.1 million, made to nonprofits.

“By almost all measures, we had an unbelievable year,” said Amelia Bond, president and CEO of the St. Louis Community Foundation. “Charitable St. Louisans understand how our local knowledge of the St. Louis community and the philanthropic landscape adds value to their giving experience and sets us apart from the service that is typically provided by standard donor advised funds offered by commercial banks and brokerage firms.”

In 2017, new donor gifts to the Foundation also increased. During the year, the foundation received 2,600 gifts valued at $176 million, versus 1,494 and $70 million, respectively, a year ago. The number of gifts received easily surpassed the Foundation’s previous high mark of 1,867 set in 2015, or last year’s total of nearly 1,500.

Over the last five years, the St. Louis Community Foundation and its donors have granted nearly $250 million to local nonprofits, while receiving $410 million in donor gifts during the same period. Not surprisingly, assets held by the St. Louis Community Foundation continue to climb and now stand at $500 million. Five years ago, the Foundation had $211 million in assets. This growth in recent years makes the Foundation one of the fastest growing community foundations in the country. 

A Transformational Gift

Among the highlights for 2017 was the more than $100 million gift made to the St. Louis Community Foundation in mid-December by Scottrade founder Rodger Riney and his wife Paula.

“Paula and I are so appreciative of the wonderful, loyal associates Scottrade was able to attract here in St. Louis, and this has also been a great place to live and raise our children and now, our grandchildren,” said Rodger Riney. “We look forward to giving back and supporting the St. Louis community, and the St. Louis Community Foundation will be a wonderful resource to help us.”

The Riney gift is the largest ever received by the St. Louis Community Foundation and helped contribute to the record year in overall donor gifts to the Foundation.

“The Rineys’ generous gift is truly transformational for St. Louis and for the Community Foundation,” said Bond. “This gift – along with the many others we received this year – represents an investment in St. Louis and its vast network of nonprofits that do so much and make our area special. It is also a reflection of the collaborative and informed relationship that we build with each of our donors as we work together to plan and execute their charitable giving programs.”

Donor Engagement and Asset Growth Drive Results

The key to the Foundation’s ongoing momentum is staying close to its donors, Bond observed.

“Our donors enjoy interacting with each other, discussing issues, and coming together to solve problems,” said Bond. “The Community Foundation facilitates this process by pulling together our donors, community leaders, and nonprofit representatives to creatively partner to find solutions to community challenges. Our growth reflects this, and we will continue to build our services to ensure we meet the growing demands of our donors and our community.”


About the St. Louis Community Foundation

Since its founding in 1915 as one of the nation’s first community foundations, the goal of the St. Louis Community Foundation has been to promote and inspire charitable giving within the St. Louis region and to expand the impact charitable dollars have on improving the quality of life in our area and beyond.

STL Youth Jobs: A Community Catalyst For Our Youth

How has the St. Louis Community Foundation helped provide paid work experience, job readiness, and financial literacy training to more than 2,500 youth? By bringing together community, civic, and business leaders in 2013 who wanted to address the steep decline in public funding for summer youth employment in the St. Louis area and providing administrative support as the group gained traction.

Today, STL Youth Jobs is the most recognized provider of summer youth employment in St. Louis. With its emphasis on individual career assessments and job-readiness training, STL Youth Jobs helps young people prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, while also providing ongoing career support.

Participants in the program emerge prepared for to work and engaged. In 2016, STL Youth Jobs supported 500 job opportunities for youth and worked with 140 employers. Of last year’s participants, 77 percent would not have had a summer job if it were not for STL Youth Jobs.

So how can you help? Well, one summer job costs $2,500, so contributions are welcome. Visit stlyouthjobs.org to make a gift online, or mail a donation to #2 Oak Knoll Park, St. Louis, MO  63105.

Jim Seeser: Give Here (and Elsewhere) With A Community Foundation Donor Advised Fund

“The St. Louis Community Foundation does 90 percent of what an independent family foundation can do at a fraction of the cost,” says Jim Seeser, who opened his donor advised fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation. “Frankly, that leaves more of my charitable giving dollars for good works.”

Jim and his family, through the Seeser Family Fund, have accomplished many “good works” since they opened the fund at the Community Foundation in 2000. Since then, they have funded more than 339 philanthropic initiatives, including the FIRST® robotics competition, which teaches young people science and technology applications, while helping them approach the challenge like a business. He also supports deaf education, as both his parents were deaf.

“The professionals at the Community Foundation help and guide all of us, making our relationship a win-win – for us and for the nonprofits we love,” says Jim. 

The Charless Foundation Converts from a Private Foundation to a Field of Interest Fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation

In April 2017 the historic Charless Foundation became a field of interest fund held at the St. Louis Community Foundation and dedicated its future grantmaking to promote health, welfare, and wellness of Missouri senior citizens, with an emphasis in the South St. Louis City neighborhoods.

For more than 150 years, The Charless Home and the Charless Foundation have been providing care for and serving the elderly in South St. Louis City.  The Charless Foundation was created with the proceeds from the sale of the Charless Home.  “The St. Louis Community Foundation brings to The Charless Foundation its extensive knowledge and professional capabilities in St. Louis’ charitable giving landscape,” says David Streett, chair of the Charless Foundation board of directors. “By providing strategic and informed advice and back-office support, the St. Louis Community Foundation will facilitate the giving process for our board, while also assuring Ms. Charless’ legacy is carried on – systematically – forever.”

St. Louis Community Foundation

#2 Oak Knoll Park, St. Louis, MO 63105
tel 314-588-8200, fax 314-588-8088