The Whitefish Community Foundation set a new record high in giving to local charities again this year. Just 30 days after the Great Fish Community Challenge awards presentation where over $1.1 million was distributed to 32 local nonprofits, the Foundation hosted the 15th annual Community Grant Awards on November 5th at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Whitefish Community Foundation Board of Directors distributed grants totaling over $250,000 to 76 nonprofit organizations. The total amount awarded was on par with the 2014 Community Grants Program, but the number of recipients was up from the year before.
“After awarding over $209,000 in matching grants through the Great Fish Campaign, it is quite an achievement for the Foundation to award another $250,000 at the annual grant awards,” said David Dittman, Foundation Board Chair. “Our successful year is thanks to our generous donors that believe in the Community Foundation’s work,” he said.
Dittman welcomed more than 250 people to the 15th annual event. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $6,000 to 76 different nonprofits from the competitive grant program, plus another $106,000 from six of the Foundation’s Donor Advised Funds, bringing the total amount awarded for the evening to $357,141.
Foundation Board of Directors presented several special awards during the evening that each came with an additional $2,500 grant. Board Member Judah Gersh presented the Great Fish Award to the Glacier Nordic Club for its work maintaining the Nordic Trails at Whitefish Golf Club during the winter and for securing the new Nordic Welcome Center.
The Doris Schumm Community Spirit Award was presented by Board Member Doug Reed to the Whitefish-Columbia Falls High School Swim Team for its successful partnership sharing one coach between two swim teams.
Board Member Emeritus Mike Jenson presented the Russ and Mary Jane Street Community Service Award to the Whitefish Veterans Support Team, a new nonprofit organization that offers retreats in Whitefish to injured veterans and their families.
Foundation President Linda Engh-Grady announced changes to the Community Grant Program. She stated that after awarding over $500,000 from the Foundation’s grant programs this year, including: the Great Fish Challenge, the Community Grant Program, a $25,000 Major Grant to the Whitefish Theatre Company and $15,000 in Endowment Challenge grants, the Foundation will re-evaluate and restructure its grant programs in order to spread out the timing. She announced that the Foundation would skip a year and bring the Community Grant Program back as a spring awards event in 2017. She noted that the Great Fish Challenge will expand to include a few more nonprofits in 2016.