2017 Impact Report

Connecting people who care with causes that matter.

The Grand Island Community Foundation advanced its mission by leaps and bounds in 2017, doing more than ever before to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Central Nebraska while assisting donors in realizing their charitable goals. Assets posted astounding gains, while grants funded tangible improvements in the lives of area residents.

The Foundation established an unprecedented number of new funds, including the $400,000 Francis Cronin Impact Fund.

HEAR Grand Island’s impact was palpable in the Railside district and beyond, while Go Big Give broke the $600,000 mark, shattering its previous record by more than $90,000. Programs such as the Kim West Dinsdale Excellence in Teaching Award and the Nonprofit Excellence Institute encouraged those who go over and above on behalf of others while helping the Foundation further engage with the community.

2017 Highlights

  • $21.2 million in assets, representing 162% growth over the past five years
  • 15 New Funds established in 2017 to make our community safer, stronger and smarter
  • $1,517,180 in grants distributed for education, beautification and general well-being
  • 116 scholarships awarded to students in everything from nursing to business to agriculture

15 New Funds Represent a Banner Year!

The launching of 15 new funds in a single year dramatically increases the good that can be done in Grand Island and beyond! These new funds address everything from human trafficking to soccer. They will help Grow Grand Island, meet needs in Doniphan, send students off to college, and assist with a wide variety of civic, cultural, health, and welfare needs.


Susie and Travis Hageman and Cyndi and Dale Wieseman established the STOP (Stop Trafficking on the Plains) Fund to help some of society’s most vulnerable members — those forced to provide sex or labor for someone else’s financial gain. Grants to local nonprofits will help survivors get the counseling, medical care, food, and shelter they need to resume a normal life.

Don & Sharon Jelinek Fund

Don and Sharon Jelinek started a donor-advised fund to lend their support to civic, cultural, education, health, and welfare needs within the community. Their love for the Grand Island community, which provided them with a lifetime of memories and happiness, encouraged them to give back in a big way.

15 New Funds

  • Merle and Carolyn Mays Donor Advised Fund (Doniphan Community Foundation)
  • Heartland Futbol Club Fund
  • STOP Fund (Stop Trafficking on the Plains)
  • Francis Cronin Impact Fund
  • Grow Grand Island Grant Fund
  • Dan and Gretchen Eakes Fund
  • Associated Staffing Inc., Trade Scholarship
  • Leadership Tomorrow Agency Flex Fund
  • Grand Island Community Foundation Employee Fund
  • Doug and Jill Fargo Donor Advised Fund
  • Jim and Dee Price Donor Advised
  • Kris Nolan Brown Donor Advised Fund
  • Bill and Marcia Lawton Donor Advised Fund
  • Don and Sharon Jelinek Donor Advised Fund
  • Schuster Family Donor Advised Fund

Centura Schools Science

If there was a science that Harold R. Dunlap knew well, it was the science of giving. The longtime Cairo implement dealer and firefighter designated his entire estate to charitable causes. One fine example is the $19,956 the Harold R. Dunlap Fund distributed to Centura Public Schools in 2017 to purchase tables and equipment for its remodeled science classrooms and lab. The Harold R. Dunlap Fund was established in 1998 to support charitable, civic or educational purposes in or near Cairo, Nebraska.

Pioneer Park fountain restoration

The Duane D. Curtin Fund gave a substantial boost to the effort to restore some lost grace to Grand Island’s Pioneer Park. The fund, established in 1997 to enhance and improve the city’s parks, donated $10,000 to help install a new “Three Graces” fountain at the center of Pioneer Park, which is, itself, a centerpiece of downtown. The cast-iron replica of a fountain originally installed in 1907 will replace a deteriorated, leaking one that was removed in 2015.

Community Enrichment

Because the Grand Island Community Foundation is a growing legacy of not just a single person but the entire community, it only makes sense that community enrichment would be one of its major goals. That enrichment — making Grand Island a better place for all its residents — takes many forms, ranging from the cultural to the educational to the philanthropic.

HEAR Grand Island

Since 2016, HEAR Grand Island has been pumping new life into the city’s downtown each summer. The sounds of rock, blues, funk, hip-hop, and country draw thousands to Railside Plaza each week to soak up the beat and revel in each other’s company. In 2017, the HEAR Grand Island Fund continued to support the summer concert series and its promotion of culture, arts, and enrichment.

Middle School
Kim West Dinsdale

Excellence in Teaching Award

This award honors educators who not only love teaching but also inspire students to love learning! These teachers know their subject area and understand kids just as much, molding their character and impacting them in positive ways.

Kim relates how one special
teacher impacted her life.
Grand Island
Central Catholic

Nonprofit Excellence Institute

Six nonprofit agencies graduated from our year-long Nonprofit Excellence Institute, becoming more sustainable and preparing their leaders for future success! The institute helps each nonprofit identify its most critical area of need and create an achievable solution, while also encouraging collaboration between nonprofits. Those who complete the program become eligible to receive a $5,000 grant to build capacity within their organization.

  • Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addiction
  • College Park
  • The Friendship House
  • GRACE Foundation
  • Multicultural Coalition
  • YWCA

“The tools learned have enabled us to succeed. We were able to implement new policy, plans, and goals.”

LJ McCormick College Park

“Not only was the capacity building so important, but we gained such trust in our group.”

Laurie Kulus GRACE Foundation

“NEI allowed us to fully leverage the limited resources available and prepared us to sustainably grow.”

Audrey Lutz Multicultural Coalition

Go Big Give

Our partnership with Heartland United Way, Go Big Give concentrates the area’s generosity into a 24-hour online giving event on the first Thursday of each May. Residents and programs of Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick counties benefit greatly from the high-visibility effort.

  • 3,769 donations made, 35% of donors
    were new to the event
  • $603,429 raised in 24 hours, nearly $93,000 more than 2016
  • 110 organizations benefitting, from education to the arts to health

Affiliate Funds

The Doniphan Community Foundation, Doniphan-Trumbull Education Foundation and Sherman County Community Foundation, which partner with the Grand Island Community Foundation for operational support, represent another way in which we impact more than Grand Island. Together, these affiliate funds awarded 32 scholarships in 2017 and raised funds for projects that enrich their own communities.

Melissa DeLaet, Executive Director
2017 Impact Report

Connecting people who care with causes that matter.

Grand Island Community Foundation continued to make an important impact on the area in 2017. This report focuses on impact, and these statistics and stories encompass a significant portion of the Foundation’s efforts to improve the area’s quality of life. They are, however, only a small reflection of the efforts of our stakeholders and the Foundation as a whole.

With a community that continues to grow and change, our board and staff intentionally focus on equity and inclusion. That is reflected in our community involvement, grant and scholarship programs. Our initiatives and funds continue to thrive and remain focused on the legacies we have been entrusted to fulfill.

View Our 2017 Grants & Funds Performance Chart

  • Dori Wanitschke Finance Officer
  • Amy Price Program Officer
  • Jeff Hower Program Officer


Supporting causes that matter couldn’t happen without people who care! Preserving and enhancing the quality of life in Central Nebraska would just be a lofty goal without the generosity of donors who support that mission. Thank you for all you do to make our community a better home for all its residents!