We Will Get Through This Together

In a time when there seems to be limits on everything that once seemed normal, one thing stands out in abundance. That is the amount of caring and compassion people are showing to one another. Rather than dwelling on what we are missing, we are asking, “What can I do to help?”

Grantmakers around the state are figuring out ways to help get funds out quickly to nonprofits who are responding to their community’s basic needs. Oregon Community Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation have established emergency funds for COVID-19 needs. Funds are limited, but the application and timelines have been streamlined to be as responsive as possible. Here are links:

OCF Oregon Community Recovery Grant Program: https://oregoncf.org/grants-and-scholarships/grants/oregon-community-recovery-grants/

The Ford Family Foundation: https://www.tfff.org/general-article-news-stories-etc/open-letter-our-grantees

Other organizations serving nonprofits and foundations offer regular news updates with information about COVID-19 efforts to help Oregon nonprofits and communities.

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon website posts COVID-19 updates every few days with information about programs and actions addressing the coronavirus impact: https://nonprofitoregon.org/

Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington website has a COVID-19 page that updates Foundation efforts around the state: https://gosw.org/covid19/

We will post other resources as they become available. And when we finally emerge from our homes and back into the sunlight – and we will – may we have a greater understanding and appreciation of what is truly important.

Working Together to Connect Resources and People

Last year 51 organizations in Wheeler, Grant and Crook counties, as well as others serving Eastern Oregon, received a total $164,351 from the Shelk family through its various funding sources.

We support projects that improve people’s lives across a spectrum of education, youth development, civic engagement, natural resources, arts and culture, and children and families in need. A domestic shelter in Grant County, a 4-H STEM project in Wheeler County, a youth summer theater camp in Prineville and a senior center in Monument are a few examples. This past year we also funded a food bank, the Hatfield lecture series, a newspaper intern program, and a butterfly garden.

Shelk Foundation grants are relatively small, but the impact is large. Our funding serves as matching local support, an important factor that larger statewide foundations including Oregon Community Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, Collins, Miller, and Reser consider when evaluating grant applications.

Because of our relationships with other funders, Shelk Foundation support of a local project serves as a “seal of approval” that can help leverage larger grants. As funders conduct their due diligence on grant proposals, they often reach out to us for our insight and knowledge of local projects and needs.

It is a great partnership and we all – local organizations, statewide funders, and the Shelk Foundation – are working together to connect resources and people in the communities we serve.

The Costs of Building and Operating Public Pools

A number of communities around the Northwest are facing the decision to repair or replace aging public swimming pools. And the cost has risen significantly!

An outdoor pool built in 1948 for $40,000 would cost nearly $2 million today just to renovate and upgrade the existing structure. A basic indoor pool built in 1979 for $2 million would cost upward of $10 to $12 million now.

The public’s expectations of a public pool have changed, too. Public pools in some towns are becoming more than a place to learn to swim and cool off on a hot day. Pools are incorporated into year-round aquatic centers that provide a variety of physical fitness and recreation activities. Costs to build these facilities can range from $20 to $78 million.

And then there are the ongoing expenses of operations and repair. Personnel, heat, maintenance, materials and supplies for a year-round indoor pool facility cost at least half a million dollars annually.

The Shelk Foundation report, Rural Oregon Public Pools: A Comparison of Communities, Amenities, and Costs, comes to the conclusion that the most practical and likely funding mechanism for building and operating public swimming pools and recreation centers is a taxing district. Grants, donations and sponsorships comprise an important piece of the funding strategy, but are not enough.

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The report also highlights a number of small communities in rural Oregon that recently have built and are operating public pools.

The common factors are for their success? Developing a thoughtful and realistic financial plan to pay for construction and operations, building strong, broad-based community support and partnerships, and finally going to the voters with a reasonable bond request.

Our report was written to share information, facts and data that may help other communities plan the construction of a new pool. To order your free copy, email: JLSFoundation@msn.com


Rural Oregon Public Pools

Public swimming pools are a vital community amenity. Kids (and adults) learn how to swim there, a life-saving skill in Oregon with our lakes and rivers and irrigation canals. A local swimming pool also serves as a community gathering space, creating memories of playing and splashing with friends and family at the pool on hot summer days.

But pools have a limited lifespan, and many pools that were built fifty or sixty years ago have reached that limit. Towns across Oregon are studying options: renovating, replacing, or reaching for the ultimate aquatic center. Eventually, planning committees all bump into the hard facts of finance. Not only funding the high costs of construction, but how to pay ongoing operating and maintenance expenses.

Some communities in rural Oregon have found answers and have been successful in building and operating their public pools. The Shelk Foundation commissioned a study to learn how they did it and released a 26-page report late this summer. Copies are available in Prineville at the Central Oregonian and Crook County Parks and Rec; or request a copy by emailing JLSFoundation@msn.com.


Prineville “Likes” Facebook

We Love Facebook

When Facebook announced its very first data center would be built in Prineville, most people hardly knew what Facebook was, much less what to do with it. What quickly became apparent, though, was from the very beginning Facebook was committed to playing a positive role in the community.

Prineville Data Center Community Action Grants

Facebook grants due

A local grants program is just one of the many ways Facebook and the people who work at the Prineville data center contribute to Prineville and Crook County. Since the community grant program began in 2011, Facebook has awarded more than $1.5 million to local schools and nonprofits.

2019 Grants Totaled $210,000

Eighteen programs and organizations received Facebook grants this year. Projects ranged from providing technology access to seniors in a local assisted living facility to purchasing rocket kits for the 4H STEM Club. Crook County Kids, an after-school program, received $6497.98 to purchase Sphero robotics kits to teach programming and coding skills. Kiwanis received $25,000 to help complete a community splash pad and Better Together received $10,000 to help establish a student internship program linking the business community with the schools.

Facebook 2019 recipients

Facebook Community Grant recipients

Crook County schools received a large share of the 2019 grants, much of it for technology and STEM and CTE programs. “We are so grateful for Facebook helping to support our schools through their Community Grants program,” said CCHS Assistant Principal Joel Hoff. “These grants have allowed our educators to provide innovative and enriching learning activities for our students. With their support, we are able to leverage our resources to maximize the learning experience for all CCSD students.”


Bringing Grants into Grant County

Five years ago the Shelk Foundation partnered with the Juniper Arts Council to administer the Shelk Community Grants. Since then the Council has granted a total $15,000 to Grant County nonprofit organizations and projects.

Kids across the county have benefited from grants to 4H and FFA clubs, the Cinnebar Mountain Playdays, and for Lego nights at the library. Community grants have also supported CASA, Heart of Grant County, Mt. Vernon Grange, and purchased safety gear for a Blue Mountain Community College welding class at Grant Union High School.

FFA Prairie City blooms

Prairie City FFA greenhouse

Cinnebar Mtn Playday JAC [2]

Cinnebar Mountain Playday patriotism

Healthy and Fit Kids JAC

Healthy ‘n’ Fit Kids day camp

Juniper Arts Council disburses about $7000 annually for the Oregon Cultural Trust which supports art, arts education and cultural heritage in Grant County. It also offers scholarships to Grant County college students pursuing a degree in an arts-related field.

CulturalTrust2019 BME photo

2019 Cultural Trust grant recipients                                                                                                                                                                                 — photo courtesy of Blue Mountain Eagle

All in all, the Juniper Arts Council distributes more than $10,000 every year in Grant County for a range of community projects. In addition, they provide local training and experience in writing grants. This fits nicely with the Shelk Foundation’s goal to help build skills and provide tools to successfully bring more grants from larger statewide foundations into Grant County.

Deadline for the 2019 Shelk Community Grant is April 5. Applications are available from Karin Barntish, 131 West Main Street, John Day 97845. For information, phone Kris Beal at 541-932-4892.

Gratitude for the Grantors

Sunset over Monument

Sunset over Monument

The Monument Senior Center kitchen renovation was such a success story, we have to revisit it. This time is to acknowledge and express gratitude to the many foundations who granted nearly $100,000 to the project.

The Charis Fund was first in with a grant for a convection oven. The Ford Family Foundation came in next to help replace the refrigerator/freezer compressors and evaporators. Grants from the Collins Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Shelk Advised Fund went toward a new range, griddle, water heater, dishwasher and commercial mixer.

With the kitchen complete the Gorge Community Foundation and the Joyce Miller Owens Charitable Foundation topped off with large grants to upgrade the building entrance with a new ramp, ADA railings and exterior lighting, repair damage and replace the floors in the entry hall and meeting room, and bring the restroom fixtures and floors up to date and ADA accessible.

Thank you to the funders who answered the need in this remote town with a population of 125. You recognized a project that was well-planned and vital to the local community – the building is used more than 200 times a year. Last year alone 56 people volunteered 3,476 hours and drove a combined 15,555 miles to help operate the senior center, maintain the building, and host events and programs. Your dollars were put to good use!