Dreaming big in Keith county

Thanks to a huge donation to the local foundation fund, there's going to be an amazing amount of new money flowing into Keith County communities.

It's being described as a "game changer". A huge gift by a donor who wants to remain anonymous, is putting money into the Keith County Foundation Fund like never before. The fund began in 2001, and over the years, it's grown to about $2 Million in what's known as the "legacy endowment fund." But what residents are now celebrating, truly changes the landscape. "Most recently, we have received a generous and gracious gift of $7 Million," fund advisory committee member Pam Abbott said. "That is unrestricted money. It's amazing."

This means the Keith County Foundation Fund will have much more money to provide to important projects each year. The fund's endowment investments work on a 12-quarter system. The full benefit of the donation won't be realized until the fiscal year 2022-2023. "During that period of time, we will continue to build some endowment payout," Abbott said. "I can tell you that as early as this year, we will have about $100,000, which is comparable to about $35,000 that we've been operating on the last few years."

Those who are a part of the fund advisory committee say by the end of the 12-quarter system, the fund will have roughly $400,000 every year to spend on local projects. "Our fund advisory committee realizes the challenges and responsibilities going forward with this kind of money," Abbott said. Committee members say they want to be good stewards with the money, and make funding choices that cast a wide net. They want to fund projects that are central to what the entire community wants. In the past, the fund has done that. For example, the fund provided up to $10,000 to the popular Wild West Soap Box Derby Track in Ogallala. It draws young people and parents from a 12-state area. "It was just such a fabulous fit, because it offers such great opportunities for area youth, and the thing we loved the most about it is that it involved the parents and the families," Angela Kolste with the Keith County Community fund said.

Other projects the fund has already contributed to involve new housing opportunities in Ogallala, and some money has also been put toward a new library that's already under construction. But with a $7 Million anonymous boost the endowment fund, you could say the sky's the limit when it comes to what can be done. The money will not only benefit Ogallala, but other towns like Brule, Paxton, Lemoyne and Keystone which are also a part of the Keith County Foundation Fund. Indeed, residents have reason to celebrate, and dream. "We are looking forward to exploring and seeing what the future of Keith County is going to look like in 10 to 25 years," Abbott said.