Springfield, MO

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Local, outside foundations benefit Ozarks

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Our foundation Community Foundation of the Ozarks is applying to a big, national foundation, Kresge Foundation, for a grant program to assist community foundations build charitable capital for their communities. For those of you who have never submitted such a grant request, it can be nerve-wracking! Especially for almost-first-timers like us.

We've submitted simple grant requests to a couple of national foundations; the old original Gannett Foundation and the Charles Stewart Moft Foundation, but they were fill-in-the-blanks type grant requests, not a free-form composition with multiple attachments.

We involved several people in writing the request and several others in reviewing the draft for correctness and appropriateness, and murmured incantations over the finished product as we delivered it to FedEx Feb. 25. This grant would bring $3 million in new charitable endowment into Springfield from outside and generate an additional $7 million from local sources.

It was an other-side-of-the-coin experience for me and our staff, and put us a little more in touch with what our grant seekers must feel as they prepare grant requests to submit to us.

It also reminded me once again that there is a paucity of statewide foundations for grant seekers in Springfield, and not many national foundations have extended their interest to Missouri projects.

The larger national foundations are located on either coast or in major cities (the largest of all now, because of stock market factors, is the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis at $15.4 billion) and grant seekers in the foundations' immediate area have a natural advantage.

Here in Springfield, hopeful grant seekers using the Funding Information Center at the Main Library, either the Foundation Center materials or Directory of Missouri Foundations, usually have their hopes dashed when they review Missouri foundations grants only to see the disappointing postscript, "grants restricted to Kansas City," or, "preference given to nonprofits located in the St. Louis area."

Regionally, though, there are some resources for Springfield grant seekers. The first is a relatively new foundation, the William T. Kemper Foundation. Located at and administered by Commerce Bank, the William T. Kemper Foundation makes grants in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, and has already awarded several significant grants locally.

Annually, the William T. Kemper Foundation expends $10 million to $11 million for charitable purposes.

We are also fortunate to have a large regional foundation in nearby Tulsa, Okla., which has made extremely generous grants to local nonprofits, the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation.

The Discovery Center received a grant of $550,000 for its facility; Boys and Girls Town received $450,000 toward the new campus; and Council of Churches has received $220,000 for two of its campaigns.

Educational institutions have also received Mabee grants, e.g., Drury College's total of Mabee grants is $2 million, Southwest Baptist University over the years has received $3 million and College of the Ozarks has received grants, as well.

Speaking of educational institutions, Drury College received its largest grant, $6.175 million, from the Olin Foundation, for its new library, and SMSU's largest grant from an outside foundation was $580,000 from a foundation which prefers to remain unnamed.

The Kresge Foundation has made grants to such Springfield institutions as Council of Churches, which has received $200,000 for two of its campaigns, and Drury College, which received $200,000 for the Shewmaker Communications Building.

This is by no means a definitive listing of all national and regional foundation grants to local charities, in fact, most of it was gathered informally in conversations at the monthly meeting of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives, or in checking my files. But it's enough to make us realize that the whole community can be grateful for the grant dollars placed in Springfield by outside foundations.

Locally, grant seekers can turn to The Musgrave Foundation, known for its generosity to Springfield institutions. Making grants totalling $500,000 annually, its largest grant to date has been $500,000 to the Springfield Art Museum.

Other sizeable grants are $250,000 to Dickerson Park Zoo's Education Center, $100,000 to the new Senior Citizens Center of SMOA, and an upcoming grant to the new main library. Other local foundations include the Gannett Foundation (through the News Leader), Kraft Foundation, and, of course, Community Foundation.

(Jan Horton is president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Ozarks. She is proud to be a lifelong volunteer, devotee of the arts, nature lover and environmentalist.)

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