Carl McConnell was born near Chicago and moved to Siskiyou County, California in the mid-1920s. Leah Fairchild was born in the small mining camp of Humbug, California, and raised in Yreka. They were married nearly 50 years and had no children together.
The McConnells were entrepreneurs involved in a variety of business and real estate partnerships. Carl and Leah McConnell were among the largest shareholders of Farmers Insurance Group. The Foundation’s assets are derived substantially from these long-held stocks, purchased in 1928 by Carl’s parents and sold in 1988.
The McConnell Foundation was formed by Carl and Leah McConnell in order to share the benefit of their lifelong accomplishments. Though the Foundation began actively giving significant amounts of money in 1988, it had its genesis in 1964 when it was known as the Carl R. and Leah F. McConnell Foundation. The McConnells regularly gifted small amounts of their personal money to such groups as the Guide Dogs for the Blind and the YMCA before the Foundation’s giving was underway.
In 1985, the year of Carl’s death, the Foundation received an endowment of $1 million. For the next few years, Mrs. McConnell contributed several million dollars to the Foundation. The scope of giving was significantly increased in 1989 when Mrs. McConnell elected to contribute to the Foundation her interest in a trust. The trust was valued at approximately $42 million and had been created from Carl’s estate and the sale of the Farmers stock. The Foundation was the primary beneficiary of Mrs. McConnell’s estate and upon her death the asset base increased to about $250 million. Today, the Foundation’s asset base is about $400 million.
Through the uncommon generosity of Carl and Leah McConnell, The McConnell Foundation is a philanthropic organization positioned to help build better communities today and for future generations.