September 4, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 23

New grant license offers local opportunities

Anyone who has ever tried to work in community economic development has heard it repeatedly: “You guys should just get a grant.”

Birdie Hensley stands in front of the new temporary home of the Coulee Pioneer Museum in Electric City at 3 Coulee Boulevard. Hensley, who sparked the founding of the museum is collecting historic display material. The museum may be open limited hours soon, and with some luck could benefit from the new grant database subscription for which she spearheaded funding.

Easier said than done, most of the time, but opportunities do exist. Finding them is often the problem.

But not one that would stop Birdie Hensley.

Hensley has had a goal for years of founding a local museum that would showcase the area’s rich history and its pioneers. In the last year she has turned to focusing on that goal. With that in mind, she helped arrange and attended a webinar (an online seminar) in July sponsored by the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce and held at Coulee Medical Center’s education room.

Participants learned about an online tool that helps people like Hensley search for foundations that offer grants, matching them up with those supporting similar goals.

Only about 10 percent of such organizations even offer a website, Hensley reported to chamber of commerce members at an Aug. 15 luncheon.

The “FoundationSearch” product gleans more information than can be found online by collecting publicly accessible IRS reports that detail such gifts and their purposes.

Subscriptions to the service are sold by Metasoft Systems Inc, which claims the resource includes data from more than 120,000 foundations that give billions of dollars annually to non-profit organizations such as the chamber.

Somewhere in there, there has to be money for a museum.

Hensley went to work to find the funds for a subscription, and it didn’t take long.

Them Dam Writers writing group, and an organization that has money from publishing a book about the area called “Pioneers to Power”, agreed to help, each with a $2,000 gift.

“They were excited about it and just wrote me a check,” Hensley said.

Hensley’s own company, 4-Bears Storage, along with local writer Edith Lael came up with another $600, enough to buy a $4,600 two-year subscription to the database license under the auspices of the chamber of commerce.

At the chamber meeting, Hensley and chamber manager Peggy Nevsimal demonstrated the new tool.

Hensely searched for grants for “arts and culture.” Some 891 grant opportunities popped up from organizations that have given $40 million in that category.

The tool is available for the next couple of years to help find funding for area projects.

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