During these dreary winter days, it’s great to have something positive and heartwarming to look forward to.

At Truman Heartland Community Foundation we are looking forward to getting our annual competitive grants cycle rolling for 2018. On Monday, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m., we will be meeting with more than 60 representatives from nonprofits in our community at Midwest Public Risk’s auditorium for our annual grants workshop. There they will learn about grant opportunities at THCF made possible by generous individuals in our community.

We’ve made a few changes to our grants process this year. First, the grant application deadline for the Jelley Family Foundation Endowment for Children’s Education has been moved to earlier in the year to March 15, 2018. This will allow us to announce our awardees earlier than previous years, with notifications set to go out in July.

Secondly, we have an exciting new grant opportunity made possible by a local family through their family foundation, the HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation. The grant application deadline for the HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation will fall on the same day as our Community Grants applications on April 2, 2018.

The requirements and application process for all three of these grant programs can be completed on our website at www.thcf.org.

Last year, we awarded $262,000 in grants to 57 local nonprofit programs through our Jelley and Community Grants programs. The addition of our newest grants program, the HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation, will allow us to grant up to an additional $75,000 this year. Every year we see the requests grow, which makes the work our grants committee does a challenging but rewarding experience.

Our grants committee reads each grant proposal and decides how to best invest these funds to maximize the impact in our community. Giving money away is truly hard work and we are grateful for the time and energy of our board members and members of our four advisory boards that serve on these committees.

This year our Youth Advisory Council students will continue to provide support to the grants process by reviewing and completing site visits to nonprofits who have submitted grant requests. Last year, our YAC students visited and reviewed 26 grant proposals focused on youth services. We truly value their hard work and insight every year.

Our donors also play a key role in providing resources for our annual competitive grants program. Many choose to fund grantees through their personal donor advised funds and several more choose to continue that impact by leaving a charitable gift made through their estate plans. One example is J.D. Browning, a Lee’s Summit resident who left a $900,000 gift through his estate plans to be used for programs benefiting the Lee’s Summit area. The James D. Browning Endowment Fund established in 2009 has already made 85 grants totaling $375,000. Through investments made by THCF, that initial gift has grown to $1,045,000 and will award grants of approximately $50,000 again this year.

It’s a great demonstration of the power of an endowed fund and speaks to the legacy of J.D. Browning. His gift will continue to make a lasting impact in Lee’s Summit and we are honored that he entrusted his Community Foundation with ensuring the most effective programs are being funded with his legacy gift.

It is truly heartwarming during these dreary winter days to think about the many selfless individuals who have chosen to impact their community through charitable giving, whether through a donor advised fund, scholarship fund or a legacy gift. The Truman Heartland Community Foundation is honored to have been chosen to support and grow their charitable giving.

– Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.