Grant program expansion considered by community

By Brad Allen

March 9, 2016

The Whitewater Community Foundation (WCF) is expanding its overall vision by implementing a new Active Grant Program.

The grant program will serve to help raise funds for various community projects in the hopes of improving Whitewater’s cultural and educational climate, WCF Program Director Brienne Diebolt-Brown said.

WCF has been around for 20 years and was previously focused on raising scholarship funds for high school students to attend college.

Following a recent change in leadership, the Board began to look for ways to help the WCF to expand its vision, Diebolt-Brown said.

Whitewater City Board of Directors member Rick Fassle assisted in the development of WCF, and is supportive of its expansion.

“The real idea is to generate interest in the community, and to get an idea of what the community needs,” Fassle said.

City of Whitewater Board of Directors President Kevin Brunner, said the newly implemented Active Grant Program is a new venture for the WCF, and the Board of Directors intends to offer grants to initiate worthwhile projects beyond what they have been involved with in the past.

The WCF has received four grant applications already, with several more interested in applying, Diebolt-Brown said.

“We want to show we’re opening our vision, and we’d like the community to see us as a resource,” Diebolt-Brown said. “We can be a fiscal sponsor.”

Any organizations in Whitewater can apply for a grant, and proposed projects could benefit UW-W students as well.

“We’re trying to get people engaged in their community, and we have to help build that participation,” Diebolt-Brown said. “We hope to show citizens that they themselves can make a difference in the community.”

Changing the community

With Whitewater located close to a few big cities, many residents live in town and work in others.

That situation can negatively affect the cultural climate of the community, Diebolt-Brown said.

“Part of what we do is engage with the community and to try to get the community to speak up about what they need, and what they’d like to see happen,” Diebolt-Brown said.

WCF has built a “general fund” and intends to utilize this money to give back to the community to have a positive impact, Brunner said.

“This program can help the community artistically and socially, to give something that the whole community can enjoy,” Fassle said.

City of Whitewater Parks and Recreation Director Matt Amundson has several proposals in mind for potential upcoming projects, including: a Splash-Pad project (a non-lifeguarded water-spray park), an amphitheater construction project to bring in bands to perform at local concert events in the future and building concessions stands and restrooms as an addition to Treyton’s Field of Dreams.

Treyton’s Field of Dreams is a baseball park dedicated to a 8-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a drunk driver.

“We’re always trying to upgrade and meet the needs of the community, and we see the WCF as a potential partner in those projects,” Amundson said. “We hope to enhance the experience of community.”

The Parks & Rec Department runs more than 200 recreation programs and oversees 21 local parks.

“I think we provide some great opportunities, but you always want to enhance the quality life of the community, it’s a big part of who we are and what we do,” Amundson said.

The grant program supports funding of projects, rather than providing full funding. It is meant to “kick start” projects in a sort of “entrepreneurial sense,” Fassle said.

The Foundation hopes to receive more applications and heighten awareness of the Active Grant Program even further.

“We’re looking to further expand our vision and help with community projects in turn,” Diebolt-Brown said.

More information on the Active Grant Program can be found online at www.whitewatercommunityfoundation.org.

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