Giving back through a challenge grant

Originally published on 10/11’s Pure Nebraska program

The Shickley Community Foundation Fund is taking part in Nebraska Community Foundation’s Homegrown Challenge. It’s a reminder that giving back is vital to Nebraska hometowns.

You could say Shickley is rising to the challenge through the Homegrown Challenge grant. “We needed to find local donors willing to put up $100,000,” Shickley Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee member Richard Walter said. “NCF is matching $100,000 with $50,000 from an anonymous donor to them.” The community must then raise another $300,000 to meet a final goal. The challenge is designed to support Nebraska hometowns. “The total that will be raised in this campaign is $450,000, which will add another $18,000 to our community’s annual endowment fund payout,” Walter said.

Gerald and Loydeen Stengel are the local donors of the $100,000 needed for the Homegrown Challenge. “Loydeen in the past has served as a fund advisory committee member,” Walter said. “She knew quite a bit about the foundation, and has participated in a couple of our campaigns.” With the pledge of $100,000, and another $50,00 from NCF, Shickley community foundation fund advisory committee members are pitching in. “With all of the challenge grants we’ve done, the first thing we do is have the fund advisory committee fill out their pledge cards,” Walter said. “This go round, we raised just short of $140,000 from the committee,” Walter said. Now, the hope is everyone in the community will raise another $160,000 to reach $300,000.

The Homegrown Challenge highlights the importance of finding ways to give back to Nebraska hometowns. “We’ve given back to the community more than $800,000 through our endowment fund,” Walter said. “The unrestricted endowment is important, because we don’t touch the principal. We just grant out part of the interest each year.” As you might imagine, payouts from the fund have helped make big improvements in Shickely. “A lot of people come to us wanting seed funding for projects,” Shickley Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee member Wade Walters said. “For example, the Shickley Veterans Memorial was started by a group from Sons of the American Legion. They came to us to get some funding to start. By the community foundation committing some funds, that gave them leverage to go to their donors and help them build that project out on their own.” A similar effort was made to put new playground equipment in Westside Park. Other town improvements have also been made.

The Shickley Community Foundation Fund has not only been able to help with projects in town. Fund advisory committee members say they’ve also been able to help with projects around Fillmore County. “Our county hospital was recently doing a big capital campaign,” Shickley Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee member Judy Lichti said. “We were able to donate to that. The Geneva theater got some new seats, and we donated to that. We often give to the county fairgrounds. Something we’ve done for many years is scholarship grants for the hospital auxiliary. Those go to students around the county who are going into healthcare-related fields.”

With the Homegrown Challenge grant underway, the goal now is to generate donations in Shickley. There are many alternatives to cash when it comes to raising funds. “One of them being, we are in an agricultural area, we can take gifts of grain or livestock,” Walters said. “Farmers or producers can donate a portion of their crop.” And you can bet donations in many forms will come in, as Shickley residents are always focused on investing in the future. “It’s the makeup of the community,” Walter said. “We are a very giving community.” It’s a reminder that hometown giving is something all Nebraskans can consider this time of year.

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