The Columbus Area Future Fund plays a big role in the community of Columbus, and recent training through Nebraska Community Foundation is helping this fund be even more effective in making an impact.
We caught up with Dee Hanson to talk about the fund. She is the chairperson of the Columbus Area Future Fund. “I’ve been a resident of this area for 10 years now,” Hanson said. “I moved away after college, and came back. I got involved with the Future Fund through my different roles with the chamber of commerce here in town, as well as my job here at Bank of the Valley.”
“The Columbus Area Future Fund is an unrestricted endowment for any projects we want to fund, to help make Columbus a better place both now and in the future,” Hanson said. “It focuses on areas like quality of life, it focuses on the youth here in our community, and we are comprised by a group of fund advisory committee members who take a role in identifying what we think would be good to shape the future of our community.”
The Columbus Area Future Fund has been involved with some big projects over the last few years, and those have resulted in big accomplishments. “In the area of things like day care, and focusing on young families, we recently committed some grant funds to help with the Kramer Education Center,” Hanson said. “That’s focused on early childhood development. We also wrapped up a “quality of life centers” project, which involved our local hospital, our health district, our library and our YMCA. We focused on the different needs of each of those projects and helped to serve as pass through funds for that. We’ve recently committed to a youth focus group survey as well. We are trying to connect with the youth in Columbus to find out what they want to see in the future.”
Fund members recently went through Nebraska Community Foundation’s Impact Planning Process training. Hanson says it was a valuable experience, that helped the group get more intentional with grantmaking. “It helped us get a grasp on where our fund is sitting right now, and where we want to go in the future,” Hanson said. “Before, we were more of a ‘let’s wait for a grant application’ group, and then we tried to give whatever money people were requesting from us. That was a good approach, and we still want to do that. But, this impact planning helped us to become more proactive in seeking out opportunities. Just because we are not being asked, doesn’t mean the need is not there. Impact planning helped us to think about that a little more. For example, a new library is being built, and they are incorporating a children’s museum into it. We got asked for a grant application of $25,000 just to help them with the funding. But because of impact planning, because of the people we have involved on our committee, we decided to double that amount they were requesting. So, we gave $50,000 to our local children’s museum, because of all the needs we saw in the community, and how young families would benefit. We wanted to grow the amount because of impact planning, and the relationships we had built along the way.”
The Columbus Area Future Fund is certainly having a positive ripple effect throughout the community. If you would like to know more about the Columbus Area Future Fund, or the work of Nebraska Community Foundation in supporting affiliated funds, check out nebraskahometown.org.