Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias It takes so little thought to realize that the idea is a good one, it can instantly be classified as a no-brainer.

What's rather puzzling, though, is why the Vermillion community hasn't adopted the idea much earlier.

Dozens of much smaller towns across South Dakota have recognized its value. The people in such towns as Freeman, Wessington Springs, Webster, Spearfish, and Alcester, for example, all have recognized the importance of investing in their communities' futures by becoming involved in the South Dakota Community Foundation.

The people of cities larger than Vermillion, such as Aberdeen, Huron, Pierre, Watertown and Yankton, also have invested in the future by becoming involved in the South Dakota Community Foundation and creating community savings accounts.

Now it's Vermillion's turn. Our city is fortunate to have individuals with 1) enough foresight to see that the foundation is a great idea, and 2) the ambition to actively take on the arduous task of organizing, and maybe even do a little arm twisting, to get the ball rolling and make the Vermillion Community Foundation a reality here.

Young Moore III is spearheading local efforts that hopefully will make the Vermillion Community Foundation a reality. Vermillion people have come to know that once Moore makes up his mind to accomplish something, there's no doubt he will do what it takes to reach a desired goal.

Vermillion citizens also must keep in mind, however, that the creation of a community foundation isn't a task that can be taken on single-handedly. Moore has done a great deal of the groundwork, but to make the foundation a reality, there must be, for example, a task force of at least nine members that will work to raise funds, provide publicity for the program and get information in the hands of financial planners in the area.

The opportunities that await Vermillion with the successful creation of a local foundation are almost endless. It's a concept that taps into the best of two worlds: the philanthropy of local people, and the funding assistance of the South Dakota Community Foundation.

To commemorate the life of White native William L. McNight, the 3M and McKnight Foundations offered a $5 million donation to be matched by the people of South Dakota. This challenge was met, dollar by dollar, with $2 million from the South Dakota Legislature and $3 million from private donors.The South Dakota Community Foundation was established, and since grown to over $20 million.

The goal of local planners is to raise $105,000 which would then be administered and invested by the South Dakota Community Foundation.

Suggested fund-raising goals for starting the local foundation are: $20,000 each from the Gateway Foundation and the Polaris Foundation; $5,000 each from Civic Council, Vermillion city government and Clay County government; $4,000 each from five Vermillion banks, and at least $1,000 each from 30 individuals.

The funds would be administered by the state foundation. The foundation's policy is to pay out of earned income 5 percent of the value of the fund each year.

The South Dakota Community Foundation would retain slightly more than 1 percent of the funds received for administration.

All earnings over these amounts will be retained and added into the principal of the fund to provide increased earnings in future years.

"If we establish such a fund, they will provide up to $25,000 to us as a match on a four of our dollars for one of theirs basis," Moore said at a recent public meeting.

The tax exempt South Dakota Community Foundation draws money into a charitable pool to assist with projects too large for individual donors.

Grants are then awarded to non-profit organizations, institutions and agencies for the purpose of benefiting the social and economic well being of the people of South Dakota.

This is an idea whose time has certainly come in Vermillion. It is easy to envision a community foundation here as a way to help boost funding of economic development, human services, health, education and cultural and environmental enhancement.

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