Waitt Family Continues Gateway Foundation's Legacy of Giving in Sioux City

Although the Gateway Foundation no longer exists, its legacy of giving in Sioux City, Iowa, is carried on by the personal philanthropy of Gateway co-founder Ted Waitt, his brother, Norman Waitt, Jr., and other family members, the Sioux City Journal reports.

Over the years, the Siouxland region has benefited not only from gifts from the Gateway Foundation, but also from the generosity of the private Waitt Family Foundation, which was established in La Jolla, California, by Ted Waitt, and the Kind World Foundation, which Norman Waitt created. Among other activities, the two foundations have supported education, recreation, social needs, health, faith-related activities, technology advancement, and the arts in the area.

According to Jim Wharton, former president of the Gateway Foundation, the foundation awarded $2 million to $5 million in grants annually, and its sponsorship of local golf tournaments resulted in large gifts to Hospice of Siouxland and Opportunities Unlimited, local United Ways, and other nonprofits, as well as the creation a riverfront recreational trail and the Gateway Arena. "The kind of trail Gateway blazed in this community with philanthropy was so effective," added Wharton. "People will tell you it really changed the way this community feels about itself."

Cindy Waitt, who heads the Waitt Family Foundation, said its local initiatives are largely shaped by her experiences as a social worker and those of her sister, Marcia, who is a teacher. The foundation has supported the early childhood initiative Success by Six, for example, as well as several mentoring programs, including Coaching Boys Into Men. Last year, it completed a five-year commitment to give two- and four-year college scholarships to 384 at-risk students in the metro Sioux City area. To date, the foundation has awarded over $15 million to more than two hundred projects.

Norman Waitt, who is reshaping the Kind World Foundation, gave $2 million to the new Siouxland Y a year ago and often gives locally through the Siouxland Community Foundation. He and Ted each contributed $2 million to restore and endow the dilapidated Orpheum Theatre.

"When people are willing to give at that level, it causes everyone to stretch a little more and give, too," said Debi Durham, president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. "They certainly have created a legacy of giving in this community."