The Power of Dreams: The Maddox Foundation

What happens when people who believe in Mississippi come together to solve problems? Children in Northwest Mississippi have the computers they need to get a good education. A Community Foundation is created to serve the underserved, and nonprofit organizations across the state have access to training, resources, and tools that will help increase their impact, sustain their work and improve the quality of life for children, families, and communities. Such is the vision of the Maddox Foundation, founded in 1968 by Dan and Margaret Maddox, working to make signature investments that create indelible legacies.

At the turn of this century, one of the Maddox Foundations’ first signature investments initiated a statewide $28 million public-private partnership that put Mississippi’s public schools at the forefront of overcoming the digital divide. According to the National Governors Association, this partnership, which started with the schools in the Maddox Foundation’s hometown of Hernando, enabled Mississippi to become the first state with an internet-accessible computer in every public-school classroom.

The Maddox Foundation’s managing trustee, Robin Hurdle, tackled another major issue during that same period. Despite ranking as the nation’s most generous state, Mississippi had fewer charitable endowment dollars per capita than any other state. Furthermore, the entire northwest region of the state, including the Delta, lacked a public charity that could address this deficit.

After seeing what could be achieved with charitable partnerships in the school computer initiative, Hurdle worked with then DeSoto Times publisher Tom Pittman to establish the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi. The Maddox Foundation made an unprecedented $10 million endowment matching grant challenge to launch the Community Foundation. “The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi would not exist if not for the vision, planning, and funding from the Maddox Foundation. It’s an incredible success story of connecting people who care with causes that matter – all thanks to Robin’s vision for a Community Foundation,” added Keith Fulcher, current president and CEO.

While developing these two signature investments, Hurdle served on the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits board, which later merged with the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers to form the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy.  She saw first-hand how the lack of dependable funding hampered the center’s planning and effectiveness. She dreamed of an endowment to help support its work, but the time was not right 20 years ago. It is now.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Maddox Foundation made a gift of $635,000 to benefit all of the state’s community foundations to establish a $1.27 million endowment, which would ensure nonprofits across the state will be able to access the innovative training, technical assistance, and support services of the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits. Under Robin Hurdle’s leadership, the legacy of Dan and Margaret Maddox’s charitable spirit lives on in every community across Mississippi. 

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