Foundation growth a highlight for 2011


 HESchessChampions One of the bright spots in Hillsboro?s economic picture during 2011 has been the continued growth of the Hillsboro Community Founda?tion.

?It?s remarkable,? said Keith Harder, HCF board president.

Thanks to a variety of factors, the charitable funds managed by the foundation, which formally was launched only five years ago this fall, has hit the $1 million mark.

The best news of all? Some $28,000 in grants were awarded in 2011 to help meet a variety of needs within the community.

In February, HCF awarded 14 area organizations and programs a total of $12,000 in the fourth round of its Hillsboro Area Impact Fund grants.

In July, HCF awarded a $16,000 grant to USD 410 for the coordination and collaboration of health services in the following areas:

? USD 410 health services for children ages 5 through 18?staff wellness and coordination, student health and wellness coordination, student dental health coordination and liaison with Head Start health services.

 ? Early childhood (birth to 5 years) services coordinated under the umbrella of the Com?pre??hen?sive Early Child?hood Health Initiative, including supervising healthy start home visitation; providing nurse home visitor services, and collaborating with Parents as Tea?chers, Marion County Special Educa?tion Cooperative, Families and Communities Together, Prairie View, Child Start, Health Wave and Head Start.

? Marion County Health Department for immunization programs, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, childcare licensing, healthy start program and county health administration.

The latter grant was a direct result of the Marga Ebel Fund, a $350,000 estate gift that was finalized early this year.

?I think probably that was the biggest highlight of the year,? Harder said of the now permanent endowment that is designated for the health-related needs of children.

?The other kicker is that it?s a matching grant,? Harder added.

That means, the Ebel gift will match about half of a $300,000 matching grant from the Kansas Health Founda?tion that HCF was awarded in November 2010.

That will leave about $150,000 that HCF will need to receive within three years to realize the full $300,000.

Beyond these two developments, Harder said HCF also has accepted several other community-based gifts to manage under its umbrella, including three significant funds that previously had been managed by USD 410: one from John A. and Harriet Kizler Wiebe and two from Robert Sextro, a retired schoolteacher.

Rapid development

Hillsboro Community Foun?dation was launched five years ago with the successful completion of a community-wide campaign to raise $250,000 to establish the Impact Fund.

Since then, several other endowed funds have been established under the HCF umbrella. Included are endowments to support park maintenance in Lehigh, the operation of the Hills??boro Senior Center and upkeep of the Scout House in Memorial Park.

The rapid growth of HCF has been a model for other communities to emulate, according to Sandi Fruit, executive director of the Central Kansas Com?munity Foundation.

HCF, along with about nine other area community foundations, is affiliated with CKCF, which provides accounting service, expertise, broader awareness and tax status.

?As I work with other small communities across central Kansas, I often use the Hillsboro Community Foundation as a great example of what a small community and a dedicated group of volunteers?with a little persistence and patience?can accomplish,? Fruit said.

?Their success is due primarily to strong, consistent leadership on their board. Their board has always understood that this is a long-term commitment and that the foundation is about ensuring the future of the community.?

Personal touch

HCF has grown to the point where it hired its first part-time employee in 2010. Kathy Decker said her duties as executive director primarily include being a local resource for information and promotion.

?I have made a couple of public presentations and visited with donors,? she said. ?I?ve just tried to be out and about to answer questions people might have?and there?s been a lot of questions about the foundation and what it does, how it functions and how it?s going.

?You never know when those will happen,? she added with laugh. ?A lot of them aren?t really planned, but some of them are.?

She said the experience has been a good one.

?It?s been a learning and a growing process in so many different ways, plus the excitement that it?s generating just within myself for what the foundation is doing and what it can do over the years,? Decker said. ?It?s amazing what an impact it can have for the community.?

A tool to be used

While HCF always will welcome general donations to increase the size of its Impact Fund, Harder and Decker said what the foundation really wants to do is be a tool that people can use to accomplish their charitable objectives.

?What we?re really trying to promote is the concept of giving through the foundation, not to the foundation?the whole thing of trying to stimulate people?s imaginations about what they could do (for the community) that reflects their passion,? Harder said.

?They can give undesignated gifts that will go to the Impact Fund, but I think we?re more interested actually to tap into people?s interests and concerns, and provide a mechanism for them to fund those concerns long term into the future.?

Harder and Decker said a variety of interests have surfaced, some of which may be addressed in 2012. The ideas include funds designated for such things as supporting the arts in the community, FFA and 4-H endeavors, and projects connected with Tabor College.

?It?s really a very flexible tool that can be used to reflect and channel resources to a wide variety of projects,? Harder said of HCF. ?We hope people see it as something they can use to serve their own purposes and tax purposes.?

With the end of the year close at hand, Harder and Decker said this is the perfect time to consider making a charitable connection with HCF. Decker can be reached at 620-947-0170.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
Daily Life (June 30, 2010)
Church group plans fundraiser ? An intergenerational group from First Mennonite Church...
Read More