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Adrienne Arsht Receives DCF Philanthropy Award

Family tradition is one of giving back

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The Delaware Community Foundation awarded its first Delaware Family Philanthropy Award the other night, and launched a $2.5 million fundraising campaign, in honor of its 25th anniversary.

Delaware’s own Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke at a gala, which included the presentation of the DCF’s inaugural Delaware Family Philanthropy Award to Adrienne Arsht, daughter of the late S. Samuel and Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht. She accepted on behalf of the Arsht family.

S. Samuel Arsht was a prominent corporate attorney, described as the master of Delaware’s influential corporate statutes. The Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht was the fifth woman admitted to the Delaware Bar and the state’s first female judge. Adrienne became the 11th woman admitted to the Delaware Bar, 25 years after her mother. She launched a successful career in law and banking, culminating in a move to Miami in 1996 to run TotalBank, which she sold in 2007. She now lives in Washington, D.C.

“I was raised that your reason for being was to give back,” Arsht said. “My parents embodied this every day of their lives. They were always generous—whether with their time, energy, or money. Every day, they inspire me to do what I can. I am deeply touched by this award and thank you on behalf of the Arsht family.”

At DCF, Sam and Roxana established the Arsht-Cannon Fund, whose mission is “to preserve support, protect and defend the best interests of a civil society.” Since its creation, the Arsht-Cannon Fund has supported nonprofit agencies with more than $4.5 million in grants, including more than $2 million focused specifically on helping Delaware’s Latino families. Among the fund’s greatest successes statewide are English language and family literacy programs, Nemours” BrightStart! Dyslexia Initiative, family mental health programs at the Latin American Community Center, Best Buddies, Cancer Care Connection, and various special programs in Hispanic communities.

Among their gifts to the First State, Sam and Roxana provided gifts for the construction of Arsht Hall for the Academy of Lifelong Learning at the Wilmington campus of the University of Delaware. Sam also gave Delaware the Roxana Cannon Arsht Surgicenter, an outpatient surgery facility on the Wilmington campus of the Christiana Care Health System.

Since its inception in 1986, DCF has distributed more than $128 million in grants, now averaging about $15 million per year. The foundation manages charitable funds for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations, and also distributes income from the funds as scholarships and grants to nonprofit agencies throughout the First State.

“When times get tough, donations drop and the need for services goes up. We’ve seen many nonprofit organizations have to reduce their services when people need them the most,” DCF Board Chairman Thomas D. Wren said. “Endowments give organizations a steady stream of income, so they can keep doing their good work in perpetuity.”

The celebration marked the launch of DCF’s campaign for its new Strategic Fund, an endowment fund whose earnings will support DCF’s operations in the future, CEO Fred Sears II said.

The Foundation’s goal is to raise $2.5 million for the Strategic Fund by the summer of 2012. So far, friends of the Foundation have given more than $1 million, Sears said, including a gift of $250,000 from the Arsht-Cannon Fund, which Adrienne Arsht announced at the event.