The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 23, 2011

Legacy Foundation to boost good ideas

Organization not just a financial benefactor

OTTUMWA — A project to improve the community can start with just a good idea. The project can end there, too, unless further steps are taken.

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has voted to begin supporting organizations that support Wapello County.

“We realized there needed to be money for not-for-profits to do their work,” said Brad Little, president and CEO of the foundation. “This is one prong of that strategy.”

The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund will distribute $150,000 after reviewing applications for grants. The grants are expected to range from $2,500 to $30,000. A similar distribution will happen three times a year.

“We realize there are a lot of great ideas out there that just haven’t had the money to get going,” said Kelly Genners, the foundation director of operations.

The foundation was started with money from the sale of Ottumwa Regional Health Center. The goal is to use the interest on that core investment to support the community from now on.

They actually have decided to do so in two ways. One will be long-term work with public service organizations, with some projects not coming to fruition for years. But they also want money to give away by being “responsive” to innovative organizations with good ideas.

“As long as they can show us they’re serving our residents,” said Genners.  

But, added Little, this isn’t just an effort to throw money at problems hoping they’ll go away.

An agency needs more than a bright idea to get funding from the legacy foundation. They need a strategy to run their project in a way that helps part of Wapello County. To encourage applicants to really think, and to make sure agencies have their ducks in a row, Genners and the staff developed an online application form.

“We want to challenge them to be more collaborative with other organizations, to look for additional funding options and to look at the sustainability of their project,” Little said.

Little posed a simplified hypothetical example: It may be an agency’s great idea to purchase a van to provide transportation for an unserved group of Ottumwans. The foundation wants the applicant to ask if the same van service is already available. If not, is another group across town struggling to develop the very same project? Could the two groups team up? Maybe one agency wants to purchase a van to bus its patients around on Mondays and Fridays, while the other Wapello County group only wants to bus the elderly around on Tuesdays and Thursdays.   

And how will the applicant pay for upkeep on the van? Will they hire a driver? Do they require additional liability insurance in order to drive people around town? How will they pay for that, or will the van just sit empty for weeks while they struggle to put gas in the tank?

“The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund is a new opportunity for new money. But we think this process will really encourage these organizations to think about how they do things,” said Little. “To think about how they can have an impact on the community — and how we can help.”

The application deadline is midnight, Aug. 21.

For Your Information:

Not for profit 501c(3) groups wanting a grant must first submit an application at No paper applications will be accepted.

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