While not necessarily intended as an anniversary present on Kern Community Foundation’s 20th year of service to the local community, a recent $2.5 Million charitable investment from long-time philanthropists Judi and Rob McCarthy has been cause for much celebration and, as the largest single gift from an individual or family received by the Foundation to date, is a milestone in its own right.


Who are the McCarthys?


Rob McCarthy was the founder of a company that ultimately became Lightspeed Systems. Since 1984, Lightspeed has provided software tools to thousands of school districts and tens of thousands of schools around the world. Founded in Bakersfield, Lightspeed Systems moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas, in 2014, and closed its Downtown Bakersfield offices in 2016.


Judi McCarthy is past Chair of Kern Community Foundation and Founding Vision Committee Chair of The Women’s and Girls’ Fund at Kern Community Foundation, which, since 2005, has worked to transform the lives of women and girls in Kern County by mobilizing the power and passion of women (and men) working together for the common good through strategic grantmaking, education and mentoring. She is also the namesake of the Judi McCarthy Women’s Philanthropy Award, which is presented annually by The Women’s and Girls’ Fund to one local woman and one local young woman who stand out for their work in philanthropy and positive community transformation.  


Thrilled by the McCarthys’ generosity and commitment to local philanthropy despite their relocation to Austin, Kern Community Foundation President and CEO Kristen Beall said, “Rob and Judi are quintessential community philanthropists and we are humbled by their continued desire to make an impact here in Kern County.”


The McCarthys’ charitable gift has been deposited into the Robert and Judith McCarthy Family Fund, which was established at Kern Community Foundation in 2008. Over time, the McCarthys look to use their fund to invest in women and girls, K-12 education and youth, and Kern County.


Why is their commitment to Kern so passionate?


“Rob and I miss Kern County, even as we have come to appreciate our new life in Austin,” Judi said. “Bakersfield was good to us, with wonderful neighborhoods for our children and an affordable environment to grow our business.  In Bakersfield we learned how to hone our philanthropy, too, finding the causes we care about and the organizations truly making a difference.  My affiliation with Kern Community Foundation was particularly transformative. The Foundation knows the issues confronting Kern County. They know best how to marshal resources—nonprofits, community leaders, outside funders and local donors—for greatest impact. And so we’ll continue to support Kern County through Kern Community Foundation. This is where our hearts remain, and this is our philanthropy’s home.”


Already a healthy portion on the gift has been earmarked for some creative grantmaking. Beginning May 2nd, $400,000 has been pledged as a generous two-for-one matching grant to the Women’s and Girls’ Fund at Kern Community Foundation. Simply put, for every dollar that is contributed to the Fund’s endowment, Rob and Judi will match or add $2, up to $400,000. $1 becomes $3 -  Philanthropy Multiplied!  When the match grant is completed, the endowment is expected to surpass $2 Million in total assets, generating larger, more impactful grants to nonprofits serving women and girls.


Judi remains engaged in women’s philanthropy and collective giving, both at Kern Community Foundation and in Texas. “I learned about the women’s giving movement in 2004, when Kern Community Foundation became interested in starting a fund for women and girls,” she said. “Women can be generous givers, very thoughtful and engaged. Women’s philanthropy has huge momentum, increasingly visible and powerful. By offering the match challenge to the Women’s and Girls’ Fund, I hoped to motivate local women to rise up as philanthropists, to use their strength as givers while supporting other women and girls in need.”


With the McCarthys’ generous gift, Kern Community Foundation’s total assets will stand at close to $25 Million.


“Since 1999, Kern Community Foundation has helped local donors practice smarter giving to achieve greater impact from their philanthropy,” Beall said.  “Rob and Judi have stood alongside the Foundation for many years and their commitment to local philanthropy is nothing short of inspirational.”


About Kern Community Foundation - How to get involved?


Kern Community Foundation is a vibrant nonprofit with a powerfully simple mission: Growing Community. Growing Philanthropy. 


For twenty years, the Foundation has served as a trusted charitable resource for local donors and corporations, and helped to generate capital that provides philanthropic solutions to help make Kern County a better place to live, to work and to visit. Since its founding in 1999, Kern Community Foundation has awarded more than $20 Million in grants and scholarships to the community; and since 2013, it has consistently ranked in the top two-thirds of the 100 most active grant makers nationwide.


Kern Community Foundation is the winner of the 2019 Beautiful Bakersfield Award for helping to create “A Better Bakersfield” through its popular countywide online day of giving, Give Big Kern, which, since its launch in 2016, has helped hundreds of nonprofits throughout Kern raise more than $980,000 and receive close to 230,000 pledged volunteer hours from thousands of generous community donors and volunteers.


For more information about Kern Community Foundation and the wide range of options it offers its many philanthropic partners, please visit www.kernfoundation.org, write to info@kernfoundation.org, or call 661.325.5346.


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