The Columbia Foundation
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New Columbia-based foundation helps local organizations

A local foundation is offering grants of as much as $2,500 for 20 not-for-profit organizations that focus on children, education and the arts.

Not-for-profit organizations in Missouri can apply for the $2,500 grants until March 31. Mubarah said grant proposals will preferably focus on children, education and literacy, and the arts, though that is not a requirement.

Grant applications and more information about The Columbia Foundation are available at

Mubarah, the foundation’s executive director, said he and Aero have several years of hands-on experience with charitable organizations. Now they want to take a more targeted approach by helping organizations learn to be more visible and efficient.

“I’d like for the foundation to be more than just a distribution center of funds,” Mubarah said. “That will always be the primary aim because money is always needed” by local not-for-profits, “but we’d like to be a resource” for helping organizations address specific community concerns.

The foundation already has started a fund for the Museum of Art and Archaeology to support the construction of a new building to bring the facility back to the downtown area. Mubarah and Aero are also supporters of Ragtag Cinema, the Boonslick Chordbusters and other cultural interests.

The foundation has supported Great Circle, an organization that helps children and families with a history of abuse and neglect, and Columbia Lions 20/20, formerly known as the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. Columbia Lions 20/20 is a club that collects and distributes used eyeglasses and provides eye exams for kids who can’t afford the service.

Local Realtor Patty O’Brian, president of Lions 20/20, said that a year ago Mubarah and Aero hosted a “Saving Sight” fundraiser at their home, where the two announced the formation of the Columbia Foundation.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” O’Brian said. “We raised an incredible amount of money — and they matched it.”

She said Lions 20/20 will be one of the grant applicants and might pursue a grant as seed money for a larger fundraiser. She said the foundation is already an important part of the charitable funding framework of Columbia and Boone County.

“It’s in its baby steps,” O’Brian said, noting that the foundation’s endowment will grow as Mubarah and Aero continue their work. “They’re both smart enough to understand it takes baby steps. You can’t just take this giant leap and have everything fall into place.”

Mubarah said though the amounts are small, the initial grant funding can help fill gaps in local social service and education programs.

“There’s an intellectual pool” in Boone County “that’s really impressive,” he said. “We want to be a hub of practical resources” to address parenting and family issues in addition to literacy and job skills.

The foundation’s website also mentions a global motorcycle ride to raise awareness of child abuse, homelessness and malnutrition, and charity mountaineering expeditions.

Mubarah said the foundations plans to launch those activities in the near future.

This article was published in the Monday, February 10, 2014 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune with the headline “New foundation helps local charities; Group awards $2,500 grants.”

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