As state lawmakers turn to discussions of the needs of urban and rural schools, it’s a good time to note just a few of the impressive ways that rural communities across Nebraska are using hometown philanthropic investments to strengthen themselves:
>> Laurel, a community of 964 in northeast Nebraska, now has more than $400,000 in endowments for local needs. Most recently, Jim and Lanita Recob used proceeds from the sale of their farm implement dealership to create a $200,000 endowment to promote entrepreneurship, recruitment of new residents and youth engagement.
>> In Plattsmouth, Neil Lancaster, a longtime community volunteer, provided a bequest of more than $330,000 for a general purpose endowment as well as an endowed scholarship fund for Plattsmouth High School graduates pursuing careers in education.
>> Eight libraries in rural communities (Albion, Ashland, Hildreth, Mitchell, Osmond, Valley, Walthill and Wausa) are receiving grants totaling more than $94,000 from a fund advisory committee of Shirley Kreutz Bennett’s nieces and nephews.
The individuals and families who provide these endowments for rural communities are to be commended, and Nebraskans who consider establishing new ones are to be encouraged.