DARWIN, Minn.— The new Darwin Community Legacy Foundation has been established to respond to the community’s changing needs and opportunities by awarding grants for local projects and programs. It is a permanent endowment created through a partnership with Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and funded by donations from individuals and organizations.
A local nine-member advisory board leads the community foundation. Board members are Chris Hansen, board chair; Jenny Smith, vice chair; Dave Kelly, secretary; Josh Johnson, treasurer; Eric Gabrielson; Shawn Hansen; Kim Hawes; Sarah Kotila; and Joe Midthun. They are responsible for raising funds to sustain the foundation’s vision, coordinating grants and involving the community.
“The new foundation is committed to creating and passing on the Darwin legacy described in our mission statement: ‘To provide a better community for tomorrow through charitable giving today,’” said board chair Chris Hansen.
Fundraising efforts are underway, and all contributions are welcome. Donations, and questions, can be sent to Darwin Community Legacy Foundation, P.O. Box 1, Darwin, MN 55324. During the launch phase, board members hope to raise $100,000 or more in contributions.
“We know our goal is optimistic, but we also know Darwin has a lot of loyal supporters,” Chris Hansen said.
Among those loyal supporters are former residents who have mailed donations from hundreds of miles away to Darwin, home to the iconic World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Kelly, the foundation’s secretary, grew up in Darwin but has lived in Bloomington more than 50 years. He’s remained close to the town, where he enjoys many longstanding friendships.
“I think everybody has a certain amount of feeling for your hometown. Those I know, they’ve always been proud of being from Darwin,” Kelly said. “That’s the basis for my interest in the community foundation. I want to be involved with worthwhile community projects that will build on local assets.”
Darwin is one of 26 community fund partners established by SWIF since 2001. SWIF provides these partners administrative support through gift processing and receipting, grant processing, investment management and the 501(c)(3) public charity status necessary for donors to receive a charitable tax deduction. Community fund partners also have access to technical and professional support in strategic planning, board development, fundraising, grantmaking and marketing and public relations.
“I’m excited to see what’s in store for Darwin as the board members spread their passion for this community,” said Jeffrey Vetsch, SWIF Community Philanthropy Officer. “Our community partners inspire generosity and community spirit by putting local leaders in the driver’s seat.”
The Southwest Initiative Foundation is a single connection offering unlimited possibilities to grow and promote kids, families, businesses, entrepreneurs and communities in rural southwest Minnesota. As a regional community foundation, SWIF has contributed more than $75 million through its grant and loan programs. Through its business finance programs, SWIF has helped start or expand more than 700 businesses, which have created or retained more than 8,600 jobs. SWIF also established 26 community affiliates and more than 100 school, donor-advised and other funds, as well as 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions to support young children. SWIF has received 1,650 acres of farmland through our Keep It Growing℠ farmland giving program. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To learn more, visit www.swifoundation.org.
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