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Bethel receives one of North Newton foundation's first grants

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College and a related program were two of the first three recipients of one of the state’s newest community foundations, located in North Newton.

The North Newton Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Kansas Community Foundation, organized about 16 months ago. In an awards ceremony held March 25 in the community room of the North Newton City Hall, NNCF awarded grants to Bethel College, Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts and Community Playschool Inc.

Jake Goering of North Newton – who at age 95 may be the oldest community foundation board member in the state – presented the award of $500 to Bethel President Perry D. White. The grant supports ongoing campus beautification efforts, specifically by funding production of a large outdoor map to be installed in the new entrance plaza at the south end of the Green.

NNCF board member Dalene White of Bethel College presented the BCAPA grant although Danica Bielek, BCAPA executive director, was unable to be present. The $796 will pay for scholarships for qualified students in music and dance whose family income is too low to meet BCAPA enrollment fees.

Board member Pam Copper presented the third award, for $400, to Jeanette Leary, executive director of Community Playschool Inc. in North Newton. The grant – specifically supported by the Kansas Health Foundation – will be used to supplement healthy snacks, enabling purchase of more fresh food such as fruit, vegetables and cheese.

The amount awarded totaled $1,696. Each grant was funded to the full amount requested.

Those who gathered for the awards presentation also heard from Central Kansas Community Foundation Executive Director Sandra Fruit, who briefly described the work and purpose of CKCF.

“A community foundation is a way for donors to support charities in their own communities,” she noted. “It’s simple and it works.

“Back in the mid-’90s, there were about 10 community foundations in Kansas,” she added. “Now there are between 70 and 80. These work especially well in small communities.”

CKCF has 15 affiliates, 12 of them – including NNCF – what Fruit called “traditional community foundations.”

NNCF board chair Jim Goering introduced the rest of the board: Jennifer Vogts, vice chair, Kevin Geraci, secretary-treasurer, and North Newton mayor Ron Braun, in addition to Pam Copper, Jake Goering and Dalene White.

Goering acknowledged CKCF Associate Director Angie Baur and North Newton Administrator John Torline, also present for the awards, and the work they and Fruit did to help get the North Newton Community Foundation up and running.

Goering quoted Andrew Carnegie’s words upon establishing one of the world’s first and most influential philanthropic organizations, the Carnegie Foundation, about 100 years ago: “To do real and permanent good.”

“These words seemed worthy to model, to the organizers of the North Newton Community Foundation,” Goering added. “Today, after 15 months of operation, the NNCF holds an asset base of about $30,600, comprising four component funds: the Vincent Hill Memorial Park and Playground Fund, the Sher Klassen Neufeld Endowment Fund, the Impact Fund and the Operating Fund.”

The NNCF is an affiliate of the Central Kansas Community Foundation, which provides general oversight. Growth of the NNCF reflects a dollar-for-dollar matching grant of $5,000 from the City of North Newton, plus 25 contributions from  private and corporate donors in its first year of operation. Of these, 17 are considered “founding contributors” by virtue of their contribution of at least $250 each during the first year. Founding donors are recognized in a permanent wall plaque located in the North Newton City Hall.

NNCF grants are awarded based on a competitive application process. Criteria used in evaluating the grants were based on the NNCF Vision Statement, which includes the objectives of “…efforts that enhance community well-being through expansion of educational opportunities, cultural enrichment and improvement of human health and the physical environment.”

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthlyannual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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