Photo: ThunderBirdEye/shutterstock

Photo: ThunderBirdEye/shutterstock

Community foundations are a big deal in South Dakota. Although private family donors and some corporate funders operate in the state, community foundations are among the largest local givers and are key resources for nonprofits to know. One of those top community funders is the Black Hills Area Community Foundation (BHACF) based in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about BHACF if your South Dakota work could use a financial boost.

1. BHACF Prioritizes Capacity Building Support

One of the top facts to know about this South Dakota community foundation is that it makes capacity building support a priority. This has been an ongoing recent trend among community foundations across the country, and BHACF definitely sees the value in these types of multi-faceted investments.

The foundation’s capacity building grants often go toward partner development, strategic planning, measurements and evaluation, board engagement, marketing, donor engagement, staff development and technical needs. BHACF accepts letters of inquiry for capacity building support on a rolling basis throughout the year with no deadlines. The grantmaking committee then reviews formal applications in March and October.

2. Special Populations of Interest

Aside from nonprofit capacity building, BHACF has many specific interests in the local communities it targets. Children and youth, for example, are top foundation priorities, which is why the foundation has a youth philanthropy grant program that invites select nonprofits and government agencies to seek funding. These grants are up to $5,000 each and focus on a new topic each year, such as youth homelessness.

BHACF also supports local Native American populations through the Community Service Center Trust Fund. These grants of $1,000 or less target low-income Native American individuals and families in the Rapid City area. Applications to benefit this population are typically due around the first of June and the end of November. This foundation also prioritizes local cases of hunger and malnutrition, awarding food security grants for collaborative programs.

3. It Pays to Have an Agency Endowed Fund

Most community foundations offer local nonprofits the opportunity to set up agency endowment funds, but with BHACF it really pays to have one. One of this foundation’s biggest efforts is its community action grant program, which is only accessible to its agency endowed fund holders. These grants go towards a wide variety of causes, such as economic development, social services, education, disaster and recovery, arts and culture, environment and natural resources and youth. For this grant program, special priority is given to joint ventures and collaborations with other organizations.

4. Eight Counties in Focus

Like many community funders in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains area, BHACF is a regional funder rather than a city-specific foundation. Counties in focus here go beyond just Rapid City and include Butte, Custer, Fall River, Lawrence, Meade, Oglala Lakota and Pennington. However, some grant programs have narrower geographic focuses than others, so be sure to read the guidelines for each program offering.

5. An Accessible Application System

BHACF is an accessible and transparent grantmaker with a convenient online application system. Grantseekers can easily access LOI and application forms on the foundation’s website after creating a login account. BHACF does not have a huge staff and board, but it does field questions by phone and email.

Learn more about this foundation and others that give locally in South Dakota in our funding guides.

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