The Founders Fund was established in 1934 in memory of The Garden Club of America’s first President – Elizabeth Price Martin, who served from 1913-1920. The Fund has since grown through generous gifts from clubs and individuals, and provides monetary awards to projects proposed by GCA Member Clubs. The first Award in 1936 was $700; currently the winner receives $30,000, with $10,000 going to each of the two runners-up.
The Founders Fund Awards have facilitated saving thousands of acres of land, innumerable trees and restoring historic landmarks. The Awards have enabled Research and education projects that enrich young and old. Along with the winners, the runners-up have made distinguished contributions to their communities. You can view more here.
In 1961 Sasqua Garden Club applied for, and was the recipient of the GCA Founders Fund of $2,700.00 to fulfill the plan of landscape architect Eloise Ray who in 1960 developed a plan to fill a small glassed in courtyard at the Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, now called, The Westport Nature Center. The courtyard planted with native plants was to be a living exhibit in miniature of the varied landscapes in Connecticut. Funds were used by Sasqua for the plant material, and in addition, the club also raised $7,000.00 towards planting native garden plants.
Again in 2015 SGC submitted and won a Founders Fund runner-up award of $7,500.00 that helped facilitate and restore habitat gardens, creating a “Living Classroom” at The Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum in Fairfield, CT. The result is a woodland monoculture overrun with invasive plants now transformed into five native Habitat Gardens that better nourish over 120 bird species. Educational signage and free mobile tours create a “Living Classroom” by teaching thousands of residents and school age children the importance of habitat biodiversity.