Promoting Your Community Foundation’s Focus Areas

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    Karina DeJong

      As a community foundation, we each have a mission, have a vision, have a purpose. Together as a board, we strategically and collectively come together to locally capture what are the most vital needs within our community and with end results, develop focus areas in which we stand by and the direction in which our work gears toward. There are lots of ways to highlight and promote your focus areas. One focus area of the Willmar Area Community Foundation (WACF) is addressing the achievement gap for our youth. We work to support projects that address access to quality early childhood programming and address barriers to access; improve access to enrichment activities for low income and underserved children; provide ‘on ramps’ for skills, training and experiences beyond a four year college prep focus including apprenticeships, skills training, innovative programming; and help build foundational, technical and soft skills that prepare young people for our future workforce and that help students with challenges to become productive members of our community.

      Not only do we make investments within addressing the achievement gap (opportunity gap), but we also work to build awareness around the subject manner. Being a tool and resource for the opportunity gap therefore brought about designing the idea of having a competition to help expand and grow local non-profit programs in relation to helping all of our kids succeed. WACF invited four area initiatives to pitch their projects to the general public via the Foundation’s public relations outlets. The grand prize winner was a $2,500 grant for their project and $1,500 to the runner up. Each non-profit created 60 second videos to highlight their program. After a couple weeks of voting and almost 500 votes cast, our top two finalists Miles 4 Mentors and the Kandiyohi Country Area Family YMCA Youth Feeding Program were presented and voted on live by our 300 guests at the WACF Awards in Philanthropy celebration. Our runner up was Miles 4 Mentors which engages and enriches kids’ lives through sports. With continued support, Miles 4 Mentors can offer free programming for all our kids to come together to participate and enjoy with their friends, family and mentors. Our grand prize winner was the YMCA Youth Feeding Program which works to provide safe and caring communities for our children. This newly launched program will provide supper time meal service for children in the Willmar area community, free of charge. WACF was ecstatic with the results of how the competition went, not only in building awareness for the Opportunity Gap, but also for our local partners.

      Now not only are people understanding one of the focus areas of the Foundation, but are also understanding the opportunity gap in our community and how we are needing to address this matter to help support and aid opportunity for all our kids to be successful.

      What are some ways you build awareness of your Foundation’s focus areas? What has been successful or what has not been successful? Has it made an impact for you?

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