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History & Mission

Mission Statement

The South Central Community Foundation’s purpose is to enrich the quality of life for people in the counties of Barber, Comanche, Kingman, Kiowa, Pratt, Rice, and Stafford.  

This will be accomplished by:

  • Providing a vehicle and service for donors with varied interests and various levels of giving.
  • Serving as a leader in assessing and responding to emerging and changing community needs.
  • Acting as a resource and catalyst for charitable activities.
  • Soliciting and managing funds to build a permanent and flexible endowment.

Foundation History

The beginning of South Central Community Foundation can best be described by the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” In 1994 a group of committed, future-focused citizens met to discuss how they could retain resources in the area for the benefit of charitable work. Through their vision, South Central Community Foundation was incorporated September 26, 1994 as a not for profit corporation for charitable purposes and began to work toward the mission of “Assuring a Bright Future for South Central Kansas.”

This mission could be reached through:

  • Providing a vehicle and service for donors with varied interests and levels of giving
  • Serving as a leader in assessing and responding to emerging and changing community needs
  • Acting as a resource and catalyst for charitable activities and
  • Soliciting and managing funds to build permanent and flexible endowments
  • They began by gathering endowment funds to benefit charities in six counties including: Barber, Comanche, Kingman, Kiowa, Pratt and Stafford. In 1998, Rice County joined the organization.  

The first major endowment contribution came from Jud and Bobbe Stanion. The donation consisted of appreciated real estate in Junction City, Kansas which was sold in July of 1995. Embracing the multi-county concept, the Stanions designated that some of the proceeds be used as seed money to establish county endowment funds in each of the six counties. The county funds clearly illustrated the power of collaboration and have grown to be important grant sources in these counties.

A second major early contribution came from Claudine Riney and was also in the form of real estate. It consisted of land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Mrs. Riney directed the gift to the SCCF undesignated fund so that the annual disbursements could be used for what is now the SCCF grant cycle. This fund became the Community Impact Fund and it is an important part of SCCF’s gifting each year.

Founders ’95, a group of citizens and businesses, agreed to commit resources over a three-year period to establish the Founders Endowment Fund that helps support foundation administrative expenses. Partnering with the Kansas Health Foundation resulted in matching grants for administrative and leadership endowments as well as technology grants. Over the last seventeen years, generous donors have established endowment funds which have grown the community foundation's assets to more than 11 million dollars and provided beneficial grants for communities in the SCCF service area. SCCF offers a free estate planning consultant to assist individuals in planning their charitable gifts.

In 1996, SCCF awarded their first grants and disbursed $1,150 to six organizations. From this humble start, the community foundation grants more than $1,500,000 annually, including donor advised funds, and $35,000 annually in scholarships. Charitable organizations seeking grants complete application forms during the SCCF/YMAD grant cycle. These applications are evaluated by the SCCF grants committee, which is comprised of two representatives from each county, and the YMAD youth leadership committee. This ensures that new and evolving community needs are assessed in the grant making process.

For the first six years, Pratt Regional Medical Center and Pratt Community College donated administrative personnel to oversee the daily operations of SCCF. Hundreds of volunteer hours from SCCF board members also enabled the foundation to be effective. By late 1999, the board realized that the administrative duties were becoming too much for the part-time, donated co-directors and volunteers. A small group again agreed to commit funds making it possible to hire Denise Unruh as a full-time director in October 2000. The hiring of a full-time executive director along with the opening of the SCCF office at 105 West Second Street in Pratt, paved the way for rapid advances by the foundation.

In 2003, a grant from the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation was received to develop a youth philanthropy program. Maggie Southard was hired to help develop the “Youth Making A Difference” program to grow lifelong philanthropists. Members of the YMAD council represent the seven SCCF counties. These teens learn about philanthropy, leadership and community needs culminating in giving away thousands of dollars in grants each year.

In 2008, 2014, and 2020, SCCF has met National Standards and received certification from the Council on Foundations. Developed in the spirit of accountability, transparency and continuous self-improvement, the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations are philanthropy’s most rigorous standards. They provide evidence that a community foundation seeks excellence for their communities and donors. These standards serve as both a blueprint for internal organizational development and a tangible set of benchmarks for external demonstration of operational excellence in six key areas:

  • Mission, structure and governance
  • Resource development
  • Stewardship and accountability
  • Grant making and community leadership
  • Donor relations and
  • Communications

All aspects of SCCF: assisting donors; managing charitable dollars; giving grants; providing estate planning services; working with youth on leadership and philanthropy; and collaborating on community solutions create an organization that IS “Assuring a Bright Future for South Central Kansas.”