Beresford Area Foundation: A… | South Dakota Community Foundation

Beresford Area Foundation: A Vehicle to Give Back

June 10, 2024 // Community Savings Account
BAAC check presentation
BAF advisory council members present a $3,000 grant to Dr. Thomas Merriman of Beresford Area Arts to support the Wednesday at the Rock Wall summer concert series at Bulow Park.

The idea for Beresford Area Foundation (BAF) goes back to a coffee shop conversation in 1997 between Mike McGill, local attorney and current board chair, and Royal Lankhorst, local CPA and member of the Beresford Public School Board.

“Royal commented there was no entity in the community suited to receive charitable investments for the benefit of our school or community,” said McGill. “In other words, if we wanted people to invest in Beresford, where would we send them?”

This was the catalyst for hosting a broader community meeting to gauge interest and a possible course of action. That’s when a phone call was made to SDCF. Bernie Christenson, president of SDCF at the time, agreed to attend a community meeting to explain how a Community Savings Account (CSA) is operated and what it takes to get started. As a result of Bernie’s guidance, a local advisory council was created, and the BAF was born. The first meeting of the local advisory council was held in September 1999.

elementary classroom photo
BAF makes a grant to the Beresford Elementary School 4th grade for an interactive electronic white board used for math education. Mike McGill, BAF chair, is shown with the 4th grade class and teacher Michelle Andrews

SDCF offered BAF a challenge grant of $25,000 if they could raise $125,000 within a five- year timeframe. Founding contributions to the fund were from local banks – Farmers State Bank, First Federal Savings and Loan and First Savings Bank. These instrumental investments of $10,000 each set the tone for fundraising efforts to meet the goal within three years.

With a $150,000 endowment and vibrant advisory council, BAF made its first grant in the amount of $600 to aid in the establishment of a local childcare center. Additionally, BAF worked with SDCF and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to secure a grant of $10,000 for a Governor’s Home to be utilized as the childcare center. From the start, childcare, youth activities and elder issues have been among BAF’s highest priorities. It has also been a founding priority to include the agricultural community in the reach and mission of BAF through support of the local FFA group for leadership training.

Fast forward to today and BAF and related subfunds have a combined endowment balance of more than $1 million. Related funds include the Shanna Rae Christensen Memorial Scholarship Fund and Watchdog Foundation Fund, which was created to help fund innovative education programs and other gaps in school funding.

BAF Vice Chair Evonne Frieberg presents a grant to Michelle Pratt, Beresford High School Guidance Counselor, for conflict resolution and mentoring program.

McGill stated, “I was told from the very beginning good grantmaking is good fundraising.” Over the past 24 years, BAF and its subfunds have made grants in excess of $489,000. Significant grants include the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Beresford School District, local youth sports facilities, restoration of culturally significant Brooklyn Township Country Grade School, English Language Learner’s Program, Boy Scouts, Beresford Parks, Recreations and Community Education Board, Ambulance and EMT Association, Beresford Area Arts, Beresford Community Cupboard, Beresford Faith In Action, Beresford Child Care, Inc., Watchpuppy Day Care and Aftercare, Beresford Senior Center, Beresford Baseball and Softball Association and Youth Football Association.

As a member of the BAF Advisory Council, Jane Norling, director of the Beresford Public Library, began to recognize the impact an endowment can have on an organization. “After receiving several impactful grants from the BAF for tutoring, academic oriented summer classes, and partial funding for a community garden next to the library, we decided the library should have their own fund for people that specifically wanted to donate to the library. The Foundation
is a way to support the library currently and for years to come. It certainly opened the opportunity for the library to receive gifts that can benefit the library outside of our annual operating budget,” said Norling.

With donations from the library’s loyal supporters, the Beresford Public Library Fund was established in 2014. “Our award winning five-star library is a great partner to BAF and has sponsored or hosted several BAF events over the years,” said McGill. “One of the keys to our success was to create an advisory council that represents all stakeholders in our community. This includes financial, agricultural, educational, religious and business. Future goals for BAF will be to raise awareness of our mission and the impact on our community. The creation of BAF has contributed to the wellbeing of the entire community,” says McGill.

Learn more or donate to the BAF.