The FM Area Foundation’s history goes back to 1960 when a visionary group of community-minded leaders came together to create a community trust to support charitable, educational and cultural purposes in Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota. A well-known Fargo attorney, Art Cupler, led the effort to create the community trust.

The purpose of the FM Area Foundation was to be a reservoir in which citizens, whether of large or small means can make a lasting contribution for the betterment of the community in which they win their livelihood, and a facility for carrying out the wishes of the donors interested in public and private philanthropy in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area.

Art and his wife, Clara, later left gifts through their wills, to create the Foundation’s first scholarship fund, which today, continues to provide financial support to students in the area.

Envisioned as a vehicle for long-term philanthropy that allows residents to give back and support the needs of the community, the FM Area Foundation was originally operated through local bank trust departments. In 1986, the first full-time staff member was hired.

In 2011, the Foundation shifted from its long standing trust format to become a hybrid corporate entity. This change creates more flexibility for donors by allowing them to recommend their own fund manager.

Throughout the years, families, individuals, nonprofits and businesses have created, and contributed to, more than 300 charitable funds – many of them permanent funds – to help create the community we all want to live in.  

Many community foundations across the nation are stepping into new roles as they keep pace with the changing needs of local donors, nonprofits and residents. They are starting to incubate social enterprises, facilitate community dialogue and find innovative ways to address community needs. The FM Area Foundation is no exception. As a permanent foundation for Cass and Clay counties, we look forward to continuing to support community philanthropy for generations to come.