The Key Word Is Community

Written by: Rodney Wilson
Roosevelt Park Zoo big cat exhibit. Roosevelt park zoo photo
Jason Zimmerman
Minot Area Community Foundation President

Jason Zimmerman is a Minot native, and a member of Task Force 21, the organization tasked with maintaining the connection between Minot and Minot Air Force Base. However, as they sometimes say his real job is President of the Minot Area Community Foundation whose mission is to enrich the quality of life for the people of this area by: Encouraging philanthropy, by providing attractive solutions to donors, being a catalyst for community cooperation and serving as a resource for Minot area charitable organizations.

“What do we do that benefits base families? You can take pretty much any quality of life project in Minot, and we’ve probably been involved, big or small. Everything from the Roosevelt Park Zoo, the big cat exhibits, the tiger exhibit, the Amur Leopard exhibit that is coming online shortly; those are pretty substantial gifts of over half a million dollars between the two. Then there is our biggest and most notable, the Magic City Discovery Center. The concept of a children’s museum came from one of our giving circles, Give 360, about eight or nine years ago the group got together and said, wouldn’t this be great” according to Zimmerman.

So, the Give 360 group did some initial seed funding to kick off some studies “and now 20 million dollars later up on North Hill. The Magic Climber Exhibit is the single largest gift to date from The Foundation of $750,000 dollars.” With other gifts and endowments, the MACF has a total of $1.3 million dollars into the Magic City Discovery Project. Other notable gifts have funded the trail system with infrastructure including bathrooms on the trails. “There’s also other smaller gifts” according to Zimmerman “including The Fun Zone, a Minot District project over at the armory. Not a whole lot of money, $6,000 dollars, but in the winter months it’s a place for parents to take kids, younger kids especially, for a little activity.”

The MACF recently awarded $40,000 for remodel of the Children’s Library at the Minot Public Library. Knowing that a lot of the community and military families are big hockey fans, the MACF invested in the third rink, more commonly known as The Pepsi Rink at the MAYSA arena. “There’s a lot of different things that we have had our fingers in that benefit not only the citizens of Minot, but our friends and families, really, on the Minot Air Force Base.

The MACF wants to encourage philanthropy in the Minot community. They establish endowments on behalf of their many donors. Those donors can advise their funds on an annual basis when they are alive. The profits from the endowments are funneled back into the community to the various non-profits who use the money on the many projects throughout the community. There are also discretionary funds “Which is pretty unique for a foundation of our size” says Zimmerman “we have eight or nine endowments that 100% discretionary. We have a group of community individuals called our community invest advisors that meet every month and make recommendations on grant requests for those dollars. Those are the funds that we use for larger projects like the Discovery Center, the zoo projects, because we are able to pool some resources.”
The MACF has up to a 3-year carryover allowing donors to hold their funds up to three years allowing them to make a larger donation to a particular project or initiative.

Community Foundations like the MACF help to fund projects that to a better community and that helps to sell Minot as a positive community in which to live. “Base families are always looking for a better quality of life, and family activities and we are always looking for the niche to help out only the Minot community, but the Minot Air Force Base” according Zimmerman.

Magic City Discovery Center.
Bennett Creative Media Photo

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