With the overwhelming success of Mitchell County Strong, SVCF started to explore additional opportunities to take on greater roles in community and economic development efforts and as such, applied to participate in the Kansas Community Philanthropy Innovators Network (CPIN). In August 2020 SVCF was informed they were1 of 3 Community Foundations selected in the state of Kansas to participate, and so the journey began!
In October of 2021, one year into their work with CPIN, Solomon Valley Community Foundation launched a brand new initiative called Dream Big. Setting aside money from their own Community Impact Fund, and partnering with Solomon Valley Economic Development, SVCF was able to come with the $50,000 to award to a project that created significant economic and community impact.
The initiative launched at a county-wide forum where over 60 residents from all over Mitchell County came together to offer their ideas, hopes, and dreams for Mitchell County. From that process two amazing projects formed.
WILLOW SPRINGS COURTYARD
The Main Street Plaza project, later named Willow Springs Courtyard, was the initial recipient of SVCF’s $50,000 Dream Big grant. In their grant proposal the committee, composed of ad hoc community members, proposed taking a void in downtown Beloit left by building removal and transforming it into a space that would enhance entertainment value, and downtown allure, as well as provide a vibrant setting for culture. The space will allow for outdoor luncheons, a place for children to play, and a location for music and art. As stated in the group’s application, “Pocket parks such as this add value to any community space for all ages to enjoy. This particular park will do just that. It will be accessible to those of all abilities while adding features such as water, play, relaxation, arts, and beauty.” The Willow Springs Courtyard will feature a splash pad, amphitheater, shaded outdoor seating and more. For more information or to get involved with the Willow Springs Courtyard project visit them on Facebook or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
SOLOMON RIVER TRAIL
After receiving two inspiring and well-qualified Dream Big applications SVCF committed to finding a way to award both project proposals, bringing the total initiative from $50,000 to $100,000. As a result of a generous grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, SVCF informed NCK Outdoors in July 2022 that they too would be receiving $50,000 to move forward with their plans of developing a multi-use trail, in and around Chautauqua Park.
At completion the Solomon River Trail will introduce trailheads at each of the critical entry points including; the Chautauqua Park proper, The River Trails area, and the Mill Street entrance. It will also dramatically improve the downtown commercial connection with the park. In its final stages, the trail system will provide 6 miles of new trails.
For more information or to get involved with NCK Outdoors and its many trail projects visit them on Facebook or online at www.nckoutdoors.com
All in all, SVCF considers the first-ever Dream Big initiative to be a huge success! What started as a $50,000 grant initiative quickly grew to $100,000 and has sparked the potential for over $1,000,000 dollars of improvements within Mitchell County.