Often the difference between a great idea and a successful program is funding.
That is exactly why an organization like the South Dakota Community Foundation is so important. Friday morning, the foundation presented $10,000 checks to seven non-profit organizations that make Rapid City a better place in many ways.
I have a soft spot in my heart for the people like Beth Massa, Regional Director for Foundation Relations, who do the work to make sure the foundations are funded and capable of supporting worthy causes. When I lived in Kansas, I got to know someone who was the executive director of a community foundation by covering news events where they made donations. I was intrigued with how the process worked and admired the results. Year in and year out, scholarships were funded, community projects received an infusion of much-needed cash and non-profit agencies were sustained by budget-balancing donations.
One day, the Mayor — who had been a good friend since before he was elected — came to my office and told me we needed to launch a foundation for our city. The guy was a visionary and a tireless worker. That's a bad combination when they are also your friend, because that means the gravity of their rapid rotation will pull you in and you'll be doing more work too.
Before long, we had a board of directors. He was the president and I was the secretary/treasurer. That was when the work started. We had a few months to raise $10,000 to establish our separate fund for our community. Thank to a supportive group of people, we got it done. It made a real difference for local students and groups who aimed to make the city better.
In Rapid City, that work falls on the South Dakota Community Foundation. The $70,000 they presented Friday will support a wide-array of projects in the area through Community Innovation Grants. Offered in a partnership with the Bush Foundation, the Community Innovation Grant program supports efforts to find breakthrough solutions to community challenges across the state. The seven western area nonprofits will use funds to support:
- Black Hills Special Services Cooperative - $10,000
BHSSC will help students in after school programs create art depicting the community's particular voice.
- Black Hills Works, Inc. - $10,000
BH Works is preparing to kick off Echo Works, an e-recycling program that provides opportunities for people with disabilities and educational opportunities for Western Dakota Tech students, while keeping electronics out of the landfill.
- Fork Real Community Café - $10,000
Fork Real provides "pay what you can" meals and volunteer opportunities in downtown Rapid City. They will use this grant in part to fund their training program.
- Magpie Creative – $10,000
Both Native and non-Native artists and art organizations in Rapid City have identified a need for consistent and affordable space in which to work. Meetings will be held with stakeholders to garner ideas for future space and programming.
- makeSPACE Spearfish Partnership for the Arts, Cycling and Equity, Inc.- $10,000
makeSPACE provides free arts, cycling and education programs in Spearfish.
- Red Cloud Indian School - $10,000
Red Cloud Indian School will implement a story mapping documentation project that will be implemented with community youth, leaders, artists and elders that will reveal the multiple layers of Lakota connection to the land.
- Winyan Wicayuonihan Oyanke – Where All Women Are Honored - $10,000
This program will help women and others in the community stay safe even as issues that surround traveling mancamps that are required for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline come through the area.
A total of $400,000 is available to non-profits in 2020 through the Community Innovation Grant program. The first round for 2020 application submission just closed with successful applicants being announced in April. Visit their website at https://sdcommunityfoundation.org/for-nonprofits/community-innovation-grants/ to learn more.
Non-profit organizations make the Black Hills area better for everyone. The South Dakota Community Foundation supports the work they do. Find out more about the foundation so you can play a part in making it happen.
Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.
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