Last year, Arapahoe Public Library received funding to continue a major renovation to add 1,720 square feet to the building, including a new community room for children’s programming and accessible parking, entry, and bathrooms. Plainview Public Library received a grant to purchase a laser cutter and etcher, allowing the library to host more makerspace camps and further digital literacy, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the area. The dedication of a passionate Nebraskan made both projects possible.
Shirley Kreutz Bennett’s estate gift has helped dozens Nebraska libraries (in communities with populations under 3,000) achieve a margin of excellence over the last 13 years. The Fund will spend the remainder of the gift’s principal this year, marking over a decade of success and countless lives impacted by her generosity.
In 2002, Kreutz Bennett stipulated in her trust that upon her death the remaining assets be used to create a term endowment with NCF held within a donor-advised fund. Five nieces and nephews would serve as the fund advisory committee. When she died late in 2009, an estate gift of about $600,000 was used to establish the fund. NCF met with FAC members to develop a plan to carry out her charitable intentions. Overall, the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund has invested $700,000 in community libraries throughout the state.
A life-long learner, Kreutz Bennett graduated from Harvard High School in 1941, earned a BA from the University of Washington, Seattle, plus an MA and PhD from Columbia University, New York. She was a retired Professor of Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“The reason she focused on that is because she did a lot of traveling and experiencing the world,” said NCF’s Kristine Gale. “She felt libraries were a way for rural Nebraskans to learn and experience things they may not otherwise be able to experience.”
Grants in 2021 and 2022 continue that impact:
- Lied Pierce Public Library plans to purchase a laser cutter, as well as design software. The equipment will allow patrons to explore their creative side while improving their digital literacy.
- The Butler Memorial Library in Cambridge will use its grant to update its children’s programming area with a new furniture, acoustic panels, and flexible seating for children.
- Lied Randolph Public Library will add a musical playground to its outdoor reading garden. Musical playgrounds can help with motor skills, literacy, social skills, and emotional and cognitive development. They are also known to help mental health in both adults and children.
“Shirley would feel amazing about the impact she made,” Gale said.