ACF was established as a statewide institution by a consortium of local banks: Valley National Bank of Arizona, First National Bank of Arizona, Arizona Bank, Great Western Bank and Trust Company, and Guaranty Bank. Articles of Incorporation were filed Aug. 3, 1978, registering ACF with the State of Arizona.
The first ACF Board included President Guy Neely (managing partner of Price Waterhouse), Newt Rosenzweig, Bert Getz, Treasurer Joan Nastro (president of the Junior League of Phoenix), Secretary Ted Liese (a rancher from Prescott), Donald Soldwedel (newspaper publisher from Yuma), Walter Craig (Chief Judge of the U. S. District Court), Linda Alvarez (local TV commentator) and Vice President Jane Loew Shelton of Tucson. Allen Rosenberg was executive director.
Whitney was the legal architect of the Community Foundation while Rosenberg, a retired banker and well-known community leader, became the first executive director of ACF in November. Today's agreements are changed little from the first agreement Whitney crafted for the original funds.
From the beginning, funds were intended to support education, arts and culture, youth development, healthcare, and social and civic needs. First funds were established by Evo and Ora DeConcini for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Newton and Harry Rosenzweig in memory of their sister Anna, and Bert Getz for the National Historic Fire Foundation (Hall of Flame). These first funds were valued at $300,000.