Karen and Derek White

If you’re local, you probably know Karen White. You may know her from her many years of service as a member of South Bend Common Council, or from her work on the South Bend Community School Corporation Board. Or you may remember her as Associate Vice Chancellor at Indiana University South Bend. But did you know that Karen and her son Derek are also committed philanthropists who have a donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation?

Karen, a former Foundation Board member, credits Dr. Virginia Calvin with encouraging her to start the fund when the African American Community Fund began in 1999.

“When she first approached me, I said, ‘What? I can’t do that!’” Karen recalls. “But I was able to do it—on a monthly basis. A certain amount was taken out of my check, and I didn’t miss it.”

Bit by bit, she grew the fund over time. Now she’s able to make grants from the fund to support scholarships and organizations that she cares about.

A multi-generational fund, the Karen and Derek White Fund is about cultivating a legacy of giving back. Derek works with his mother to recommend grants from the fund.

“What inspires me,” Derek says, “is having a mother who is so giving of herself. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. You have that cycle of giving, that cycle of caring, that cycle of community—and the Foundation is a beacon for that.”

What words of advice does Karen have to those who are considering using philanthropy to leave a family legacy?

“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Karen says, firmly. “Our community will only become the community that it should be if each and every one of us works with a common force, a common vision, and common goals.”

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