What Mark Will You Leave on Lincoln?

Donors make lasting impacts through philanthropy 

by Clover Frederick

Many of us who call Lincoln home inherited the grit and wisdom of our ancestors who launched this state 150 years ago. They built a land grant university called “the Harvard on the Prairie.” They constructed a state-of-the-art Capitol during the depression that now houses the only Unicameral in the country. We are the envy of cities across the USA with our single public school district. We have tackled great challenges and embraced marvelous opportunities.

More than 60 years ago, a group of visionaries made their mark by forming the Lincoln Community Foundation. They understood that by combining forces they could make an even greater impact on the future. And now it is our turn to make a gift that will impact our city.

Lincoln Community Foundation has helped to shape the Lincoln we know and love today, and continues to shape our future by helping people create legacies that combine community need with donors’ philanthropic passions. The result of that passion has created assets of nearly $120M and grants to fulfill opportunities and needs totaling $11M in 2016.

Some donors are making a contribution today that will last a lifetime. Mae Whitmer learned that 750 young children in need are on a wait list for high quality early childhood education in Lincoln. She was moved to make a difference. 

Mae became a Benefactor at the Lincoln Community Foundation when she established an endowment designated for Dimensions Education Programs, a local provider of high quality early childhood education. Their new early childhood center will serve 120 more Lincoln children. Made possible by the sale of some land, this forward-thinking gift will reserve 45 percent of enrollment for infants and toddlers from low-income families at Dimensions. These families will receive scholarship assistance from the endowment Mae set up at the Lincoln Community Foundation. Because this gift is endowed, it creates a permanent funding stream for these scholarships. This is a remarkable gift from visionary person. 

Ester Gehle created a legacy in a different way. Esther, who passed away in 2012, established a field of interest fund in 1997. Her intent was to use a portion of her estate to “support efforts to strengthen and stabilize families and support systems that assist community members in reaching self-sufficiency.”

In 2016, the Northeast Family Center applied to the Lincoln Community Foundation for a grant to support their Parents as Partners program. They received $10,000, funded by the Esther M. Gehle Endowed Memorial Fund. Parents as Partners (PAP) uses evidence-based practices to enhance the lives and learning of children ranging from 6-weeks-old to age five—and their parents—through ongoing enrichment, parenting education and family support (including food, diapers and transportation of children to/from school and the center). 

Ester may never have known about Parents as Partners, but her legacy lives on by helping to support this and other important programs. 

Barbara Bartle, President of Lincoln Community Foundation, finds purpose in helping others create their legacies. “My husband and I had the pleasure of seeing the musical, Hamilton. It is a powerful production focused on Alexander Hamilton’s legacy. I especially like these lyrics: ‘Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. But when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who tells your story? Who keeps your flame?’”

What mark will you leave on Lincoln? The Lincoln Community Foundation would be honored to be the keeper of your story. Visit LincolnForever.org to learn more and start a conversation about how you can leave your mark on Lincoln. Forever.

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