Following Hurricane Katrina, the Hancock Chamber established the Hancock Community Development Foundation as a 501 (c) 3 public charity in May 2006 to act as a funding conduit for recovery projects with a broad community focus. The specific purposes of incorporation are to sponsor and support:
• Recovery and rebuilding projects
• Educational and community programs that stimulate job creation
• Foster small business growth and support workforce development
• Scholarships for the purpose of youth in Hancock County attaining a college education Hancock Chamber programs that further the purpose of the foundation and economic development and business growth in Hancock County
• Grant research, development and administration
• Coordinate charitable fundraising to support qualified educational and community programs, and community non-governmental organizations.
While the Hancock Chamber was established in 1925, business leaders never saw the need for a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit until the nation’s worst natural disaster struck. If they had not acted swiftly to set up this institutional, financial, technical and legal resource, the community would have been unable to implement critical recovery programs to rebuild Hancock County. Due to Katrina, the application to the IRS for 501 ( c ) 3 status was expedited through the help of Mississippi Congressional Offices and in three weeks’ time, the status was granted.
Some of the initiatives undertaken by the Foundation include:
• Development of the Hancock Housing Resource Center to restore housing lost to Katrina.
• Establishment of the Bay-Waveland Main Street Association for downtown revitalization.
• Incubation of 20 non-profit causes from the arts to education to historic preservation.
• The Job Generation Fund (JGF) for small businesses.