Matching Challenge helps South Routt Education Endowment get closer to $1M goal | SteamboatToday.com

Matching Challenge helps South Routt Education Endowment get closer to $1M goal

Kari Harden Steamboat Today

Standard No. 2 pencils sit on a desk at South Routt Elementary School.

OAK CREEK — Climbing its way to an ultimate goal of $1 million, the South Routt Education Endowment Fund earned an extra $4,027 in 2017 by taking advantage of a Matching Challenge sponsored by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

And they can raise more, as nonprofit organizations with endowments held by the YVCF are eligible to earn up to $10,000. Through the Matching Challenge, YVCF is donating 25 cents for each dollar raised.

Beginning in late 2016, the YVCF set aside $100,000 to dole out to local nonprofits through the program. Distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, there's still a lot of that money left, said Helen Beall, YVCF marketing and Passport Club manager.

"But once the money is gone, it's gone," Beall said.

Beall praised the "small but successful" South Routt fund for jumping in and taking action to maximize the benefit of their dollars raised.

From the perspective of the YVCF, Beall said, the Matching Challenge underscores the foundation’s mission of ensuring local nonprofits are strong and healthy in the long term.

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Beall said the YVCF has close to $16 million in assets it manages and invests.

"It's a secure funding source for your organization, and we believe endowments are beneficial for an organization to have financial stability," said YVCF Executive Director Mark Anderson. "It is a great way for nonprofit organizations to show financial security and have a dedicated funding source."

At a celebration event on March 7, the South Routt Education Endowment Fund plans to surpass its first $100,000 benchmark.

"We're very excited to be that far along," said committee member Russ Garrity. "We started with $10, then $100. It takes a while."

The goal is intentionally big, he said, with the intent of making a lasting impact in South Routt schools.

Established in 2011, the purpose of the endowment fund, according to Garrity, was to "find a funding source outside of taxpayer dollars. We can't mill and levy everything forever."

South Routt, where both Garrity's children attended school, "does an amazing job with the budget they have," he said. "But it is a small community with a small tax base."

Once the South Routt Education Endowment Fund reaches the $1 million mark, the plan is then to gift $100,000 each year to the schools, for things like "improving curriculum, adding more advanced classes or whatever the schools most need," Garrity said.

It will be up to a committee with carefully constructed bylaws and processes to determine how to spend the money.

The matching program offered by the YVCF is "huge," Garrity said. "We know the added incentive has attracted new donors to the South Routt Education Endowment Fund. It really inspires people to be more generous."

Garrity called the YVCF "amazing partners," describing how they've helped guide the small nonprofit through the complexities of building an endowment.

"I can't say enough good things about what they do for this valley," Garrity added.

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