By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
The Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas announced Friday that it has reached the once seemingly impossible amount of $10 million in cash assets.
The foundation, which was created for charitable giving in 2001 with matching funds from Kansas Health Foundation, had $545,000 in assets by the end of its first year. Douglas Stuckey, finance chair of the board of directors, said that its executive director at the time then set the ambitious goal of having $7 million by 2007.
The Foundation narrowly missed that goal with $6.2 in hand that year, but, except for a setback in 2008, it has continued to grow steadily each year, he said.
Cathy White, executive director, said that’s important because the foundation gives out 5 percent of its assets each year, based on an average from the past three years’ assets.
White estimated that since it began, the foundation has channeled $5 million to $8 million to 118 funds, including 26 donor-advised funds and 49 endowed funds.
Recipients are diverse, and have ranged from the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas clinic in Baxter Springs, which received funding for a bone density scanner, to Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Labette County, which received funding for matching children with adult volunteers.
White said she got to see firsthand the impact such grants have on a visit to Horses of Hope in Cherokee County last week. The non-profit organization used its grant for a reenactment of the Oregon Trail, involving its horses and their riders, who have a range of disabilities.
“I felt fortunate to be their and really see this grant in action,” White said.
Douglas Stuckey, the finance chair of the board of trustees, said word has spread that the foundation is a way for families, individuals and businesses to target their giving and keep it in their own communities, matching their interests to giving funds.
“Nearly $80 billion will be transferred by 2020 from one generation to the next out of Kansas,” Stuckey said, citing a study by Wichita State University. “This is a way for people to keep it here.”
The foundation’s goal is to have $15 million in assets by 2015, and trustees are engaged in frequent conversations with community groups and private donors to ascertain need and determine the potential impact of such funds.
White said donors who channel money through the foundation receive tax breaks and the ability to remain anonymous if desired, as well as the ability to direct money to specific areas.
“There’s also some satisfaction that something of my family and me being here is going to last a long time to help others,” she said. “It’s continuing a legacy.”
The Rita Bicknell Women’s Health Fund will announce grant recipients in June. Applications for grants through the Future Fund, comprised of about 100 donors classified as “young professionals,” will be accepted in September and awarded in October. General fund grant applications will be accepted starting in August. They will be awarded in November.