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CREATE gets ‘first in the world’ certification

In 1934, the late George McLean was out of work.

But unlike most of the Depression-era unemployed, the 30-year old former college professor had a small sum of family money.

McLean soon bought the Tupelo Journal , a biweekly newspaper that later became known as the daily Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal .

Fourteen years later, McLean led in the establishment of Tupelo’s Community Development Foundation, which became the CREATE Foundation in 1973 and a model for community development groups across the country.  It remains Mississippi’s oldest community foundation.

Though he died in 1983, McLean’s legacy lives on.

Recently, the CREATE Foundation was certified as “adhering to a global standard of excellence for investment stewards” and the first foundation in the world to successfully complete the independent Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) certification process.


Mike Clayborne

Mike Clayborne

“We’re delighted to have this certification from CEFEX, particularly in this economic environment,” said Mike Clayborne, president of CREATE.  “Donors can have a high degree of confidence to invest funds in the foundation when they know that we’ve attained the highest certification available.”


CREATE serves a 16-county area in northeast Mississippi and supplies funding to over 600 entities.  There are 10 affiliate foundations under the CREATE umbrella in cities across the region.

It’s probably no accident that Lee County annually ranks in the top 100 of 3,091 counties in the nation for charitable giving, according to trade publication Chronicle of Philanthropy .

“Mike Clayborne has assembled a management team which is committed to excellence in the management of their investment process,” said Katie Umile, a CEFEX analyst who led the assessment.  “The staff is keenly aware of its fiduciary responsibilities and understands the significance of an independent assessment of internal systems.”

The CEFEX standard of excellence for investment stewards is based on 22 fiduciary practices that seek to increase long-term investment performance by diversifying the portfolio across multiple asset classes.

It also helps uncover investment and/or procedural risk, which may assist in prioritizing investment management projects.


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