Milton Community Foundation: The little engine that works

January 11, 2014

There is another little engine in the town of Milton besides the one that delights children in Milton Memorial Park. It’s the not-for-profit Milton Community Foundation established in 2006. Its purpose is to provide a way for local organizations and individuals to receive and manage funds to support community-based projects and activities.

Such foundations exist in many communities including Lewes and Rehoboth to support cultural, educational, environmental, civic, and economic activities as well as public-private partnerships, and receive grants from foundations; federal, state, and local agencies; and individuals.

MCF raised $75,000 for its first project, the town's first piece of public art, a bronze statue of the English philosopher and poet John Milton. Located in Mill Park, it was sculpted by Paul Rendel, a member of Milton’s Art Guild. Donors included individuals, grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts, the Town of Milton, Tidewater, others in the private sector, and a California foundation. The town celebrated Milton's birthday Dec. 9 for several years at Irish Eyes. MCF also donated to the annual John Milton Memorial Celebration of Poets and Poetry held in the Milton Theater for eight years. This two-day event included student-poets from Milton’s three schools and received a $1,000 grant from the Delaware Department of the Humanities.

MCF is a longtime contributor to the summer concerts in Milton Memorial Park. In the past two years, MCF received grants for these concerts from the Delaware Division of the Arts. MCF also donates to the annual Horseshoe Crab & Shorebird Festival. Recipients of past MCF mini-grants include The Nature Conservancy, the Cape Henlopen Soccer League and the Milton Theatre’s after-school youth program. On behalf of the town’s Economic Development Committee, MCF received $1,000 from Delaware’s Economic Development Office for the Main Street Vacant Store Window project.

MCF is presently working with the Town of Milton, the University of Delaware, the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, the UD Monitoring Program, and the Broadkill River Tributary Action Team in managing a $50,000 grant from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to create rain gardens in Milton and reduce the flow of polluting stormwater into the Broadkill River. A garden in front of H.O. Brittingham engaged its students. Other water gardens are located by Milton Public Library and on town properties, and one is underway with M&T.

MCF donates to Cape Henlopen High School to help pay for graduation caps and gowns for students who cannot otherwise afford them. Last year, MCF helped support an Eagle Scout project, H.O. Brittingham for special needs, Friends of the Milton Public Library, the Milton Garden Club and the Milton Farmers Market. In past years, MCF partnered with the Century Club, the Lions Club, the Milton Garden Club, and the Milton Fire Department for a community New Year’s Eve potluck. Last summer it undertook an effort to begin an annual Fourth of July celebration in Milton Memorial Park.

As the IRS requires not-for-profits to maintain specific documentation and meet accepted accounting standards, MCF retains a certain percentage of donated funds to pay for these administrative costs decided on a case-by-case basis and may waive the amount. IRS rules prohibit tax-exempt groups from undertaking, supporting, or partnering in any political activities, or engaging with any groups doing so. The foundation welcomes partnerships with individuals and organizations that serve community-based activities and projects. Its mission is to serve the future. Contact Emory West at for more information.