Public invited to foundation open house

ROCHELLE — Over the years the Rochelle Area Community Foundation has awarded grants to non-profit agencies and organizations that serve the greater Rochelle area.
RACF is extending a public invitation to meet this year’s grant recipients at a Community Open House on Thursday, April 19 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Salt 251.
The event will also allow the community to learn more about the grantee organizations’ projects and programs as well as any volunteer opportunities that might be available. There is no charge to attend.
Guests to the open house can also enter for a drawing to win the chance to make a $500 grant to a local charity of their choice.
Kim Montgomery, RACF executive director, said the last couple of years the grants were hand-delivered to the organizations by board members, giving each an opportunity to visit and get to know the organizations. She said this year the foundation wanted to do something different.
“This year we decided we would have an open house. It will be not only to showcase the organizations we are giving to this year, but also for the non-profits to convene as a group,” Montgomery said. “The event will also be a nice way for the donors and the community to understand where their money is going, and learn more about the great programs that RACF is awarding money to.”

Local impact
The list of grant recipients is long, but more importantly represents the far-reaching impact the foundation has had on the region that includes Rochelle, Creston, Kings, Lindenwood, Esmond and Steward.
RACF received 37 applications for 2018, approving nearly $59,000 in grants. Montgomery said the grantees awarded are only required to do two things– agree to spend the money as indicated in the application and provide a follow up so that the foundation can see how the money was used and what the benefits were.

Carmichael’s vision
For more than a decade, RACF has awarded grants to non-profit agencies and organizations that focus on education, hunger relief, health and wellness, community services, and arts and culture — all beginning with a vision and an initial gift from RACF founder Leonard Carmichael.
With the initial funding and subsequent monetary gifting, the foundation invests and provides grants to non-profits annually from the interest earned. Any principal monies received by the foundation through donations and endowments are invested permanently, continually providing grants based on the interest earned.
Montgomery said in addition to funds designated for the large Community Endowment Fund, the foundation also offers another option.
“People can start their own funds as a legacy for someone else to give back to the community,” she explained. “We can set up a donor-advised fund so that families can recommend grants to organizations that might have been important to their loved ones.”
Montgomery added that the donor legacy funding threshold before any money can be distributed off of the interest is $10,000.
“The money that is given is permanently invested and from the earnings we are making grants to the community… this grant will be here forever, this money will be here making grants forever. It will be used to continue to grow,” Montgomery said.
“The challenge is just getting people to know what the foundation is. It wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have people giving us money. This only happens because generous people give money to the foundation. It wouldn’t happen otherwise.”
Montgomery said the foundation is encouraging the community to attend and meet the grantees. All attendees can sign up to win the chance to make an instant grant to a favorite local charity.
Everyone that knew Carmichael also knew of his strong love for the community. His initial gift to the foundation has provided and will continue to provide to people in the community for perpetuity.
“That’s what Leonard wanted… that was his idea. He was a very generous person,” Montgomery added. “He wanted to build the endowment funds and to continually benefit the community. That’s what’s happening.”

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