Who We Are

Since 1979, the Watertown Area Community Foundation has partnered with individuals, families, businesses, and advisors offering expertise in community giving and legacy planning through charitable endowments. 

We connect donors with causes they care about through personalized charitable funds that fuel support for our community’s most pressing needs. 

The Foundation collaborates with our local nonprofits, area schools, and community leaders, to identify our community’s future needs while supporting transformative efforts to enhance our vibrant community.


  • May 19, 1979 – Watertown Community Foundation established.
  • 1981 – First grants awarded.
  • 1989 – Watertown Community Foundation helps establish the South Dakota Community Foundation by creating a fund with $563,994 and receiving a McKnight Foundation matching grant of $281,997.
  • 1996 – First multi-year grant: $100,000 awarded to the Boys & Girls Club of Watertown capital campaign. Locally controlled assets exceed $1,000,000.
  • 1999 – Foundation receives an anonymous $1,000,000 bequest.
  • 2001 – First Foundation Youth Council established.
  • 2001 – Largest grant in Foundation history awarded with $250,000 committed to the Watertown Trail Committee.
  • 2004 – Women & Giving established.
  • 2004 – The Foundation leads the Vision 2015 process, the first of several community visioning efforts the Foundation would guide.
  • 2006 – Kenneth B. Way gifts $1.5 million to the Foundation.
  • 2012 – Giving Back 365 program begins. A $150,000 grant is awarded to Lake Area Zoological Society to create “Ottertown”. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $825,000 to the LAZS.
  • 2013 – Ruby & Dorothy Antritter bequest $3.2 million to the Foundation. This is the largest gift received by the Foundation and came from two sisters who worked as secretaries until retiring in 1967.
  • 2015 – Believing that community reaches beyond our city limits, “Area” was added to the Foundation’s name. Watertown Artwalk begins. The idea for this outdoor sculpture exhibit came from the H2O-20 community visioning process.
  • 2016 – Area School Partnership program established. The largest grant in the Foundation’s history, $500,000, was awarded to the Boys & Girls Club of Watertown.
  • 2018 – Two at-large board members were added to better represent the Watertown area.
  • 2019 – The Foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to support the establishment of the Watertown Area Community Foundation Plaza in downtown Watertown.
  • 2020 – Nearly $100,000 was awarded from the newly established Watertown Relief Fund to support organizations serving those directly impacted by COVID-19.
  • 2023 – Women & Giving celebrates 20 years and over $423,000 in grants and scholarships awarded to organizations supporting area women and children.
  • 2024 – The Foundation celebrates 45 years of investing in the vitality of the Watertown area.

The Foundation's Mission

Our Mission

The Watertown Area Community Foundation invests in the vitality of the Watertown area.


We do this by:

  • Promoting philanthropy and administering charitable gifts
  • Making grants to and partnering with local nonprofits
  • Leading progress and making strategic investments in our community

Create Your Legacy Today

Amplify your impact by partnering with the Watertown Area Community Foundation. Together we will make life better today and shape a brighter tomorrow for the Watertown area.

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