Hutchinson Area Community Foundation is celebrating a milestone as its endowment fund surpassed $1 million in 2021. Built by donors to be a permanent resource that serves community needs, the local community foundation helps people, organizations and businesses that want to improve the Hutchinson community now and in the future.
To mark the occasion, donors and volunteers gathered in September on the “Founders Pathway,” a granite walkway leading from Washington Avenue to the Hutchinson Brothers’ statue in downtown Hutchinson. Gifts of $5,000 or more to the “Founders Endowment Fund” are recognized with an engraved paver on this walkway, building a pathway of generosity.
“It’s exciting to think that with an initial gift of $35,000 given 20 years ago, we have been able to grow the endowment to over $1 million dollars,” board chair Tim Ulrich told those gathered for the occasion.
Liz Cheney, Vice President of Philanthropy at Southwest Initiative Foundation and a Hutchinson community member, shared a toast with the group: “To the founders and visionaries with the big ideas and the courage to get this thing started 20-some years ago, to the volunteers today who make the magic happen, to the generous hearts – the supporters in this room today and those we have lost over the years: Thank you for giving back to this awesome place and creating so much good in Hutchinson. Thank you for your time, your talent and your treasure.”
The foundation started in 1999 with the passion of a group of civic leaders and a donation of $35,000 from local resident Irv Burich. Three years later, the young foundation became an affiliate partner of Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to assist with financial management and governance. SWIF’s local community foundation program is a proven model that helps retain charitable dollars to benefit communities in southwest Minnesota. Affiliates are catalysts for philanthropy and community improvement while putting local leaders in the driver’s seat.
When the Hutchinson Area Community Foundation was ready to make its first round of grants in 2004, board members awarded $4,000 to local organizations. One of the first projects funded automated the doors at the Hutchinson Public Library. Since then, more than $360,000 in grant investments have been made from earnings on the endowment fund, supporting everything from recreation and historic preservation to youth development and the arts.
In addition to establishing a permanent endowment for the benefit of the community, the foundation is also a tool to raise dollars for specific community projects and oversee donor-advised and other types of funds created by local donors. In 2012, Hutchinson Area Community Foundation assumed stewardship of the Hutchinson Hospice Endowment, supporting home care and hospice services in the Hutchinson community. The local community foundation also administers the assets of the Jay Beytien Memorial Endowment, dedicated to maintaining AFS Friendship Grove Park. In all, local advisory board members currently oversee more than $1.3 million in community assets.
Hutchinson Area Community Foundation has $45,000 available to grant this fall. Its grant application is open through Oct. 11. Find more information online at hutchinsonfoundation.org.