2021 impact report

For most of us, 2020 was about survival mode - pulling together, doing what we must, and hoping better times were just around the corner.

In 2021, we turned that corner.

Thanks to the public's giving spirit, nonprofit groups - and the whole community - are not just surviving but thriving again. We followed the example of experts like Marilyn Fisher, still giving to her community at age 90, and E.J. Wolbach, whose bequest to start a community foundation inspired his grandson.

Grow Your Impact grants built nonprofit capacity so even more people could thrive. Even our affiliate foundations have increased their impact.

Although the winds of the pandemic buffeted us all in 2020, our pinwheel continued turning in 2021, powering more legacies to make our communities even better.

Poised to thrive in the future.

The Foundation continues to thrive as we look into 2022 and beyond. Focusing on continued growth as a community resource, we secured a permanent location at 1503 W. 2nd Street. A needed community room will host programming such as the Youth Philanthropy Board and will be available to local nonprofits, as well.

Our mission remains empowering people to turn their passions into purpose with legacies that strengthen the communities we serve. We continue to thrive as the community steps forward to power our pinwheel.


in assets, representing 55% growth
between 2015 and 2021.

17 new funds

established in 2021 to make our
community safer, stronger and smarter.

Over $2.6 million

distributed through 750 grants for
education, beautification and
general well-being.

146 scholarships

totaling $190,825 awarded to
students from 18 communities in a
variety of subjects.


Donation honors longtime nurse, still going strong at 90

Marilyn Fisher has been thriving for 90 years, and on her birthday, Dec. 31, Dan Naranjo surprised her with a $10,000 donation to endow the Marilyn M. Fisher Nursing School Scholarship Fund. "God puts special people in our lives," he explained. A visitation and reception associate, Fisher, has been with All Faiths Funeral Home since Naranjo opened its doors 22 years ago.

But she's spent most of her life as a registered nurse and still volunteers at the Third City Community Clinic and Central District Health Department. "There's no such thing as a retired registered nurse," Naranjo said. In setting up the scholarship, he said it was a no-brainer to work through the Foundation because of its experience with scholarship funds.



Marilyn Fisher

Van Wolbach follows in his grandfather's footsteps with a significant gift

The story of E.J. Wolbach and his grandson Van truly demonstrates the power of giving. E.J. passed away in 1959, leaving a $5,000 bequest to establish a community foundation. Sixty years later, Van Wolbach attended the Foundation's "Gift of a Legacy" dinner honoring his old friend and University of Nebraska College of Law roommate, William "Bill" Marshall III.

"I learned that my grandfather had provided the money to jump-start the organization," Van said. "Impressed with the organization and to honor my grandfather, I also contributed." Thanks to donations like Van's, the Foundation continues to thrive - growing from that initial $5,000 to more than $31 million in assets.

E. J. Wolbach
The Wolbach legacy of
giving continues today.
fund holders

Eakes Scholarship Fund celebrates 20 years of helping students thrive

The Howard and Gladys Eakes Scholarship Fund marked its 20th anniversary of helping the children of Eakes Office Solutions employees thrive. Howard and Gladys' sons, Dan and Ron, said company shareholders established the scholarship to honor the sacrifices Howard and Gladys made to start the business, which now has locations in 14 Nebraska cities.

Ron said he and his brother have added to the fund regularly so it can offer more scholarships. He hopes it continues to grow and honor their parents for many years to come. Dan said their parents were very community-minded and would be pleased to know the scholarship has helped students achieve their dreams more easily than they did.

Howard & Gladys Eakes
Zach Cloud

Fund awards scholarship to Gunn's descendant

The Alda J. Gunn Scholarship Fund came full circle on its 35th anniversary when it awarded a scholarship to her great-great-great-grandson, Zach Cloud. Dr. William J. Arrasmith, who served on the Foundation's first board of directors in 1960, established the endowed scholarship through his will to honor Gunn, who was his caretaker.

The scholarship benefits African American students graduating from a Grand Island high school, helping them thrive in their pursuit of postsecondary education. Preference is given to students demonstrating financial need.


Grow Your Impact grants help nonprofits thrive

The Foundation created a new opportunity in 2021 for nonprofits to not only survive but thrive and become more sustainable. First-year recipients of Grow Your Impact Capacity Building Grants were the Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island, Building Blocks Foster Care, and the GRACE Cancer Foundation.

Grants up to $10,000 are provided to strengthen nonprofit organization effectiveness in the Hall County area. Grants can serve a wide variety of purposes, such as board or staff training, critical equipment, and technology upgrades.

Multicultural Coalition awarded Go Big GIVE endowment

The Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island was randomly drawn from 24 organizations that raised more than $10,000 during Go Big GIVE to receive a $10,000 endowment from the Foundation. In addition to the $11,450.40 the coalition raised, the endowment will help ensure that immigrants, refugees, and other vulnerable newcomers not only survive but thrive in their new environment.

"The Foundation's gift of an endowment is an investment in our legacy," said Audrey Lutz, Multicultural Coalition executive director. "It invests in our relevancy for the future, whatever that looks like." A partnership with the Heartland United Way, Go Big GIVE concentrates the area's generosity into a 24-hour online giving event.


Small grants yield big results in Sherman County

One of our affiliates, the Sherman County Community Foundation, helped seven local organizations thrive in 2021 by awarding $17,000 in Anytime Give Matching Grants. The funding helped provide equipment or renovations for the Polish Heritage Center, Loup City Fire Department, Friends of Paplin, Sherman County Historical Society, Litchfield American Legion Auxiliary, Sherman County Senior Center, and Ashton Community Club.

"Since 2019, the Sherman County Community Foundation has provided nearly $60,000 in matching funds through their Anytime Give grants," said Melissa DeLaet, chief executive officer of the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation. "We're happy to watch them turn something small into something big with this program."

Grant provides comfort to breast cancer survivors

Fifty local women will receive Healing Hearts Breast Cancer Survivor Kits, thanks to a $5,000 grant provided by the Foundation to Project Pink'd. The group offers kits to newly diagnosed, hoping to make treatment easier. "Each of the chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical kits contains everything needed to make breast cancer survivors more comfortable," Project Pink'd said. Each kit also includes a handwritten note from a survivor.

Hospital social workers distribute the kits. Based in Omaha, Project Pink'd provides tools, resources, and support to breast cancer survivors in Nebraska and western Iowa.

Find out how to start your own fund.

There are several ways to give.

1503 W 2nd St | Grand Island, NE 68801
308-381-7767 |