NELIGH, Neb. (AP) — In the 1970s, a group of people in Neligh began a foundation to help raise funds to support the town.
It was called the Neligh Area Community Foundation. Over time, that morphed into the Neligh Area Community Fund, which is run by a committee of community volunteers.
Al Stelling, who has been a Farm Bureau insurance agent in Neligh for 39 years, has been the chairman of the group since 2018.
In February 2019, the Neligh Area Community Fund became affiliated with the Nebraska Community Foundation, or NCF, which is located in Lincoln and is a 501(c)(3) public charity that uses philanthropy to help “communities develop strong local economies, high quality of life and abundant leadership and volunteer opportunities,” according to its website at nebcommfound.org.
NCF manages funds for a number of communities across Nebraska, including Neligh. The Neligh Area Community Fund has five accounts with NCF. One of those is an unrestricted endowment fund.
According to the NCF’s website, the unrestricted endowment fund is “a permanent account whose assets are invested to generate an ongoing source of income year after year.” To fund their unrestricted endowment, the Neligh Area Community Fund accepted a challenge grant from Jim and Pat Blackburn of Blackburn Manufacturing in July 2020.
If the Neligh Area Community Fund can raise $200,000 by June 30, 2022, the Blackburns will give $100,000. Stelling said fund members are about two-thirds of the way to completing that goal.
If they can raise $300,000, that unrestricted endowment fund will earn 4.5% interest each year and give Neligh $12,500 every year to use for community projects.
“I’m hoping we will be over $300,000 by June,” Stelling said.
Over the years, the Neligh Area Community Fund has done many things to help the community of Neligh. A couple of recent things, according to Stelling, were the addition of shades over the bleachers on one of the baseball fields in the Riverside Park this past summer and new banners that are being installed along Highway 275 through town. The banners are a joint project with the City of Neligh and the Antelope County Tourism Fund to replace the banners that had been in place to mark Neligh’s sesquicentennial years ago.
Stelling said they also are working on promoting the downtown Old Mill District to entice more visitors to Neligh.
Stelling credits the Blackburns for their continuous generosity to the community of Neligh. Their partnership in the ongoing challenge grant is “something they can do that will keep on giving for years to come.”
While the Blackburns may be donating a large amount of money to the fund, Stelling wants people to know that “no donation is too small” and that every dollar donated helps them to reach that $200,000 mark.