Challenge grants put fundraising efforts by a couple of local non-profit groups on the fast-track this fall. The community stepped up to meet one of those challenges last month and hopefully will do the same for another important group by the end of November.
On Sept. 28, leaders of Theatre Lawrence announced that a flurry of last-minute donations pushed the organization past its $6.2 million fundraising goal, allowing it to secure two challenge grants, including a $500,000 donation from the Mabee Foundation of Oklahoma.
The Mabee Foundation also has generously pledged $540,000 to help fund a new home for the Lawrence Community Shelter. Earlier this month, shelter leaders said they still had to raise $800,000 by Nov. 24 to obtain the Mabee grant.
The shelter has closed a deal to purchase a warehouse building near the Douglas County Jail. Buying and renovating the building to become the new shelter will cost an estimated $2.7 million. The city of Lawrence already provides substantial support to the shelter, so shelter fundraisers might not be able to rely on the kind of last-minute funding commitments Theatre Lawrence received from city and county governments. The shelter might be able to obtain some additional grant funding, but local businesses and individuals might need to step up and help meet the $800,000 goal.
Surely, if Lawrence can raise $6.2 million for a new community theater, it can meet the challenge of raising $2.7 million to provide a new home for the community shelter, where it can operate jobs programs and help return homeless families and individuals to satisfying, productive lives. Fundraising efforts will be ramping up soon. We hope the community will respond.