Wamego Community Foundation
Wamego Community Foundation
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Phone: (785) 477-3277
Email: wcf@thewcf.org
To Inspire Giving and Philanthropy in a Caring Community

Tenets, Mission & Vision of the Wamego Community Foundation

Mission and Vision

The Wamego Community Foundation was incorporated as a Kansas non-profit corporation in 1998 and subsequent to incorporation received approval and designation in October 1998 from the Internal Revenue Service, United States Treasury, as a tax-exempt public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).  The stated mission of the Wamego Foundation is to provide inspiration for giving and to connect people who care throughout the Wamego community and surrounding area with the causes that matter most to the community and its citizens in order to preserve and enhance Wamego for both current and future generations.
The Wamego Foundation strives to promote and instill as its Vision for the Wamego community, increased philanthropy, charitable giving and continuing improvement in the quality of life for Wamego inhabitants.

Guiding Principles of the Wamego Foundation

In providing services to donors and fund creators, to various non-profits and other charitable organizations, entities and funds and to the Wamego community and surrounding area as a whole, the Wamego Community Foundation and its Board of Directors, officers and staff are fully dedicated to operating and being guided by the following principles:

  • The Wamego Foundation and its representatives will always act with integrity.
  • The Wamego Foundation will strive at all times to provide exceptional leadership, stewardship and donor and fund holder services.
  • The Wamego Foundation and its representatives will strive to promote open dialogue, strategic charitable alliances and partnerships and the sharing of beneficial programs and knowledge.
  • Gifts, donations, funds, grants and investment income and profits derived from funds entrusted to the Wamego Foundation will stay local and provide monies and grants to local charitable services, projects and causes, including providing funds and grants to further the missions and causes of local non-profit entities.
  • Guidance and leadership of the Wamego Foundation will at all times be vested in and provided by its Board of Directors, the members of which shall be elected from citizens of the Wamego community at large and whose officers shall be elected by the Board from among its members.
  • The Wamego Foundation and its Board members will strive to devise and offer simple and understandable ways and programs to provide and deliver broad and meaningful results to the Wamego Community as a whole.
  • The Wamego Foundation and its governing Board and staff will provide leadership, programs and guidance in formulating a variety of funding mechanisms and fund types to address both emerging and ongoing community charitable funding needs. These funding types shall include, but not be limited to, endowed and expendable funds, field of interest funds, agency funds, scholarship funds, donor advised funds and designated funds.

Wamego Foundation History and Highlights

The concept of creating a community foundation in the City of Wamego had its origin as the result of the motivation of a few public-spirited citizens in the community who desired to create an efficient and lasting mechanism through which individuals, families, corporations, various entities and a variety of non-profit and charitable organization and private foundations could make donations and gifts to benefit the Wamego community and surrounding region as a whole.  Beginning with the creation of a few scholarship and charitable endowed funds, the Foundation awarded its initial scholarships at its first scholarship sponsored banquet which was convened in the spring of 2000.  It also awarded the first Wamego Foundation grants from endowed funds in the year 2000 to several Wamego community nonprofit organizations.  Over the years the number of funds established with and/or through the Wamego Community Foundation has steadily increased with the current total now being in excess of 90 funds.  Approximately thirty-six of these funds are scholarship funds established by a variety of individuals and organizations.  The remaining funds consist of non-scholarship funds established by or for numerous and diverse charitable and philanthropic causes by a variety of nonprofit corporations and charitable organizations and entities.  These organizations also include several public agencies which have partnered with the Wamego Foundation to fund a variety of community causes and projects.

The following are representative examples of the diversity of donor funds and causes established and funded recently through the creation of several and often unique funds with the Foundation:

  • We are Wamego Foundation Fund and We are Wamego Foundation Hospital Fund.  The concept for recent creation of these funds originated as a brainchild of the Wamego Foundation Board of Directors and is an example of the spirit of charitable giving which can be accessed through community outreach to donors to fund charitable causes and programs throughout the Wamego area.  Funded primarily on an ongoing basis through contributions made in the form of payroll deductions authorized by the employees of various Wamego businesses and other entities, grants are awarded to a broad diversity of causes utilizing an application process conducted in the spring of each year.   In the past two years, grants in the total amount of approximately $20,000 have been awarded from the We Are Wamego Foundation Fund alone to 20 different organizations.  Some of these entities receiving grants included Wamego School District 320 for several summer programs involving different age groups, the Columbian Theater Summer Program, the Wamego Public Library Summer Reading Program, the Three Rivers Helmet Up Campaign, the Lions Club for Sight Program, the Wamego Community Garden, the Wamego Community Health Ministry, Pawnee Mental Health Wamego and Donating the Basics.
  • Wamego High School Honor Flight Fund.  The Honor Flight Program was proudly initiated by Wamego High School when it joined and associated with the Kansas Honor Flight Network in 2012. The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization which operates nationally and is dedicated to providing our military veterans with honor and closure.  Its stated national mission is to transport America’s Veterans to Washington D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of these Veterans and their friends.  The WHS Honor Flight, in partnership with the Wamego Foundation, carries out this national mission in Wamego by searching for veterans in the Wamego regional area who are interested in visiting the nation’s memorials on a two-day trip to Washington D.C.  National Honor Society students from Wamego High School serve as guardians and accompany their esteemed veterans who make this trip.  As a means of truly honoring them for their service, veterans and their guardian escorts do not pay for the opportunity to make this trip which is funded by community sponsors and donations to the Honor Flight Fund.  Nationwide, there are some 27,000 veterans who have applied for and are currently on the waiting list to make this trip.
  • Wamego Foundation Scholarship Funds Activities.  Beginning with its formation and over the years since, numerous scholarship funds in the Wamego Foundation have been and continue to be created, with in excess of 50 scholarships being awarded from Wamego Foundation Scholarship Funds to 2018 graduating seniors from Wamego High School, as well as other area high schools, including Rock Creek High School, Wabaunsee High School, Manhattan High School, Rossville High School, St. Marys High School and Onaga High School.  The Wamego Foundation has been the principle sponsor of and a major participant in honoring these seniors and their parents and guardians by awarding these scholarships at the Wamego Scholarship Awards Banquet which is held annually on the first Wednesday in May of each year.  The May 2018 Banquet was the 19th in a row conducted to recognize those so honored and with some 250 individuals in attendance in observance of what has become an annual tradition in the Wamego Community.
  • Wamego Area Veterans Memorial Fund.  The Wamego Foundation played an instrumental part in the creation, construction, completion and funding of the Wamego Veterans Memorial Wall which continues to this day as orders are still being received and processed by the Foundation for paver bricks to be engraved and laid at this memorial site commemorating individual Veterans and their branch, rank and years of service.  The memorial is dedicated to a simple, yet powerful Memoriam:  “The price of freedom is not free, some gave All and All gave some”, and recognizes that the first step in paying the nation’s Debt of Freedom is to honor our Veterans.  The Wamego Memorial consists of three black granite walls with a total size of 7’ tall by 15’ wide. The left wall is dedicated to WWI and WWII veterans and the right wall is dedicated to veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and other subsequent wars, battles and conflicts.  The names of Wamego area fallen soldiers in these engagements adorn these walls, as well as etchings of the names of the three Vietnam veterans lifted from the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., and an etching of the flag raising on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi which occurred during the battle to take this island.  The five service medallions are engraved on the black granite center wall of the Memorial and in front of the wall resides a life size bronze soldier, wearing battle dress representing WWII and kneeling in front of the WWII battle cross and an M1 rifle adorned with helmet and dog tags.  It is said that representatives from the Pentagon and the bronze foundry have noted this bronze rendering is among the finest of its kind found throughout the nation.
  • Wamego 4th of July Fireworks Fund.  Once each year, on the 4th of July, the population of Wamego swells in size by a factor of 10x to in excess of 50,000 individuals.  The visitors who descend on the community on this date are attracted by the reputation and patriotism of the citizens of Wamego, captured in the Wamego fireworks display, which is not only rated as the best of any community fireworks display in Kansas, but has achieved a national reputation and wide national recognition as well.
  • Wamego High School Peer Chamber.  The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce and Wamego USD 320 recently embarked on a new partnership and very unique organizational concept:  The formation of a Peer Chamber Group comprised of junior and senior volunteers from Wamego High School.  The purposes stated by the Chamber and the District in creating this organization include providing youth with the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer and leadership opportunities, facilitating the growth of partnerships among the business community and the District, providing an understanding of the Chamber’s mission and scope of work and the impact which chambers of commerce have on any given community, and encouraging youth to engage in their communities, to give back and to volunteer throughout their lives.  Members of the Peer Chamber attend Chamber and other membership lunches and actively volunteer to assist, work on and participate in a variety of community activities and community projects throughout Wamego.  In partnership with both the Wamego Chamber and various Wamego businesses, the Wamego Foundation has awarded grants and made other funds available for services and projects in which the Peer Chamber directly participates and is directly involved.
  • Wamego Chamber of Commerce Community Art Project Fund.  During 2017-18 the Wamego Chamber embarked upon on an art project featuring the canine star named Toto of original Wizard of Oz movie fame in which Judy Garland also starred.  The ties of the Wamego area and community to the Oz saga are well documented and form a centerpiece for many of Wamego’s tourist and historic attractions.  This art project encompassed the casting of a number of Toto statutes in various poses and with a variety of designs painted on the finished products which are now found in various locations throughout Wamego.  Ownership of this artwork remains vested in the Chamber and the City of Wamego, with a major portion of the cost of this project being funded by sponsorship contributions from a number of Wamego businesses.  In developing the sponsorship funding plan, the Chamber approached the Wamego Foundation to partner with it in the creation of a fund with the Wamego Foundation for the purpose of facilitating and allowing these sponsors to make tax-deductible donations to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the course of providing their sponsorship participation for the Toto statues.  Consequently this Wamego Chamber Art Fund was established to recognize causes served by promoting the arts and community improvement throughout the City of Wamego.
  • Wamego Indoor Pool Fund.  This fund is another example of the varied benefits that can result through a partnership arrangement with the Wamego Foundation.  The City of Wamego has recently commenced a project to replace its outdated and deteriorating swimming pool with a new and modern state of the art Aquatic Center.  As a condition to undertaking and funding this Center, the City required that a comparatively modest, but meaningful portion of the total project costs be funded through donations made by businesses and citizens of the Wamego community.  The City approached the Wamego Foundation to partner with it in creating a separate fund with the Foundation to administer, collect and invest donations made for this public financing component.  Contributions made to the Wamego Community Foundation for this fund, as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, are tax-deductible in view of the community improvement and various health components and benefits represented by this project. 
  • The Kansas K-9 Police Dog Association Certification Program Grant.  Pursuant to a request for financial assistance from the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s office and the Kansas Police Dog Association (“KDPA”), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Wamego Foundation awarded a grant to support the 2018 Kansas Police Dog K-9 Certification Program which was hosted for the third time in Wamego in the spring of 2018.  These law enforcement K-9 teams, consisting of law enforcement handlers and their canine charges, play a vital role in the performance of variety of law enforcement duties and responsibilities, ranging from narcotics searches and enforcement, searches of many types of venues for evidence of or used in crimes, tracking efforts which include searches for missing and lost persons of all ages in different types of scenarios, searches for humans conducted in burning structures and a host of confrontations encountered while on patrol.  In addition to this being an example of the many different types of charitable causes funded by grants from the Wamego Foundation, it is also one illustration of how community foundation funding can further contribute to commercial causes and development within a community.  In excess of 50 officer/K-9 teams spent one week attending this certification program in Wamego, with expenditures being estimated at $600/team. This amount equates to a $30,000 dollar contribution to the Wamego Community during this one week period in return for a $1200 investment in the form of the grant awarded to this program by the Foundation.  
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