When Kara Jecha learned that Rush County was awarded a $100,000 Golden Belt Community Foundation (GBCF) grant, “disbelief” came to mind.
“I asked Christy Tustin to repeat what she had said because I didn’t think I had heard correctly,” recalled Jecha, chairwoman of the Forever Rush County Committee. “Then it was total elation; I had to hug her.”
Tustin is executive director of the GBCF, which recently started its Forever Initiative. Another grant is earmarked for Rozel and Burdett, two Pawnee County communities. They were awarded a total of $50,000.
The GBCF matching funds will come from the Glenn and Elaine Mull Family Fund when the communities raise their share of the money for permanent endowments. Gifts plus matching funds will build both endowments; the initial deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.
Endowment funds are set aside for the long-term benefit of a community or organization. The principal amount is permanently protected, while the fund’s income supports charitable causes.
“This is a dollar-for-dollar grant,” Jecha said. “It is such a generous offer by the GBCF and we couldn’t say ‘no’ to its challenge to ‘dream big.’ Rush County is so blessed to have the Foundation. It is giving us hope for a brighter future.”
While the Rush County committee is in the early stages of raising money, Jecha said its members are “eager to learn the strategies we need for a successful campaign.”
Since Rush County has a strategic-planning goal to develop an entrepreneurial community, one example of what the endowment could support is sponsoring a NetWork Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Competition for grades 9-12.
“This competition allows local winners to compete at the state level,” Jecha explained. “It’s a great opportunity for young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. And it may very well lead to new businesses. I hope this will breathe new life into Rush County.
“Our great team of inspired people has accomplished other successful projects. They put their heart and soul into it, and we have God as our pilot.”
Jecha and her husband, Jay, have pledged $1,000 to the effort. “We believe having ‘skin in the game’ is fundamental to showing others we are serious about the success of our fundraising effort,” she said.
Pam Taylor, chairwoman of the Forever Rozel-Burdett Committee, said “we were very happy to get this grant. We are grateful to the GBCF for its support and leadership.”
Taylor indicated that neither Rozel nor Burdett needs money every year, and committee members thought it would be beneficial to join forces and support one another. “We hope this will bring our communities together,” she said. “We will be successful because all of us work very hard for our communities.”
Representatives of the two towns are in the planning stages about ways to raise money and pursue projects.
But they and the Rush County folks won’t have to go it alone. The Forever Initiative is a team effort to build communitywide or countywide endowments, thereby creating permanent resources and inspiring local philanthropy.
Tustin at the GBCF noted “we will work with them on a money-raising plan. They are not on their own; this is a partnership. We will encourage them to work with us to build something for the future.
“The recipients of these two awards should be commended for stepping forward to establish permanent endowments,” Tustin continued. “They are willing and able to work, and have a strong desire to see their communities grow and prosper for their children and grandchildren.”
Tustin noted that both these endowments are eligible to be part of Giving Tuesday on Nov. 28.
“So, if someone gives on Giving Tuesday, they will be matched dollar for dollar, plus a proportional match from the Giving Tuesday program. If you really want to support these causes, this is the best time to give. It is an excellent kick-off opportunity.”
At $21 million in total assets and more than 170 funds under management, the Golden Belt Community Foundation has been connecting people who care to causes that matter since 1996. GBCF serves the counties of Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford. For more information call 620-792-3000 or visit www.goldenbeltcf.org.