The Gulf Coast Business Council engages top executives of businesses – large and small – to be the united voice on public policy issues important to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, to serve as a facilitating organization and help develop future leaders.
The Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) is a non-profit public charity that has been serving the people of South Mississippi since 1989 when a group of concerned citizens saw the need for a public education foundation.
Funded by a seed grant of $30,000 from Mississippi Power Company, the Foundation received a $75,000 challenge grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation of Meridian in January 1991. Gifts from the Knight Foundation, Bell South, Hancock Bank, and the Sibyl C. Knoth Memorial Trust followed soon after, and the decision was made to expand the focus of the Foundation to address other community needs.
As a result, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3). GCCF is a vehicle for charitable giving, an instrument through which individuals, companies, and non-profit organizations and foundations can make charitable gifts to benefit South Mississippi.
The Foundation’s primary mission is to increase philanthropy by making grants to worthy causes, providing donor services and promoting and providing leadership in response to the community’s changing needs. The Foundation meets this mission by developing and managing a comprehensive base of funds, currently totaling over $50,000,000. These funds represent an expanding pool of charitable dollars, committed to meeting the needs of the people of South Mississippi.
In 2009, the Foundation will celebrate 20 years of grant making. In these 20 years, we have made grants totaling more than $16,000,000 in support of programs in the areas of education, the arts, social welfare, health, historic preservation and neighborhood enrichment. More than $25,000,000 has been granted to non-profits for Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery.
Donors to the Foundation include individuals, families, corporations, private foundations, agencies and other organizations. They have placed their trust in our ability to manage their contributions wisely, and to make charitable awards in a careful and responsible manner. The Foundation pools all gifts in a common investment fund, much like a mutual fund, with each donor holding a percentage of the total portfolio. This pooling of contributions permits low management fees and a diversified portfolio.
The Foundation’s funds are invested on the advice of the Investment Committee, composed of individuals with expertise in the fields of investment, financial consulting, estate planning and accounting. All funds are invested for a sound combination of growth and income, in portfolios of equity securities, fixed-income securities, and short-term (cash) investments.
GCEIC was established in 1997 to offer services for Mississippi Gulf Coast school districts. There are currently 24 member school districts serving over 105,000 students and 5,000 educators. GCEIC believes enhancing the learning opportunities for students will improve student performance, which provides for a well-trained workforce, attracts new industry, retains existing industry, and benefits all sectors of the community.
To establish education as the top priority for improving quality of life for the citizens of the member districts.
The GCEIC will serve the member districts by influencing decision-makers, providing professional learning and technology opportunities, and collaborating with higher education, business and industry, and other groups and agencies to enhance the teaching and learning opportunities for our students.
The Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1962 by Dr. James A. Graves and a number of interested community leaders, presented two concerts during its first season. Its first conductor, James Shannon, led 35 musicians in one concert each in Gulfport and Biloxi. Incorporation followed in 1965, along with a move to the Biloxi High School Auditorium. After renovation of the historic Saenger Theatre in Biloxi in 1987, the Symphony moved into its current home venue.
Following the retirement of James Shannon in 1988, Dr. Andrew Harper was selected as music director. During his 10 -year tenure, the GCSO grew to its present size of 70 professional musicians. This period brought the very successful annual fund-raiser Barbecue under the Oaks, the establishment of an office, and a change in governance from an all-volunteer Board of Directors to one with a paid Executive Director.
In 1998, a nationwide search was undertaken for the GCSO’s third Music Director and Conductor. Dr. John W. Strickler was selected from an applicant pool of over 140. Today, the GCSO performs a subscription series of four classical concerts and a pops concert, a Holiday Peppermint Pops concert, four School Concerts, and two outdoor, free public concerts – one each in Harrison and Jackson counties – during the Memorial Day weekend.
Since Dr. Strickler has taken leadership of the Symphony, the season ticket base and the annual budget have more than doubled. A concert with Luciano Pavarotti in April 2000 garnered raves from over 11,000 and brought an offer to tour with Andrea Bocelli. The subscription concert series is sold out.
The Gulf Coast Symphony Youth Orchestra, under the umbrella of the main Symphony, was established in 2001 under the direction of Dr. Timothy Bergman; who conducted for eleven years. Students from across the Coast representing public, private and home schools are selected by audition.
Since 2009, GCSO has partnered with the Weill Institute of Carnegie Hall and local schools for Link UP. A music program curriculum developed by Carnegie Hall, there are now seven schools and 750 elementary students along the coast who directly participate in Link UP and join the Gulf Coast Symphony Youth Orchestra in an end-of-the-year concert.
The Gulf Coast Symphony celebrated its 50th anniversary season in 2011-2012.