A gift of $5 million to permanently endow the Jacobson Fund for Belmond was announced last week. The news came Sept. 12 during a celebration of the inaugural awards by the fund.
Consultant Anthony Wood of New York City said the 20 applications for money during the first year showed that Belmond has “an incredible level of civic engagement.” He added, “People are passionate about, and committed to this place.” Wood said Richard Jacobson was one of those people who was passionate about Belmond.
If the Fund for Belmond spends about 5 percent of the $5 million gift each year, or an estimated $250,000, the money should last in perpetuity.
“This gift will provide a bright future for this town,” said Joe Sorenson of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, which will administer the fund.
The recipients of $250,000 in grants were honored at City Hall last week. The original 20 requests totalled over $700,000. Ten projects made the initial cut and progressed to a second round of applications.
“We did not want to take any of those ideas out,” said Larry Turner, “but there was only $250,000.” Turner was the chairman of the local committee that reviewed the applications. Other members of the committee were Pastor Isai Guerrero, Heather Ridgeway, Tate Goeman, Linda Loux, Jenna German and Barb Soma.
Turner said the finalists had $300,000 in requests, and some of the projects had to be eliminated. “We had a lot of good discussion about each application,” he stated. “In the end, everyone voted the same.”
The projects which received funding the inaugural year were:
Purchase of the former Ramsay Elementary School and construction of a soccer field and restrooms, $65,000. Build a Better Belmond has purchased Ramsay (which could be used for a daycare center). Work on the soccer field will start soon. “This is a super exciting use for an old building,” said Sorenson.
Development of marketing materials for Belmond, $52,000. The city, BIDCO and Wright Economic Development will use the funds to come up with “a new brand to tell Belmond’s story,” Sorenson said. New signage will also be installed at Belmond’s highway entrances.
Renovation of the tennis courts in Swimming Pool Park, $50,000. The Belmond Park Board received the money to resurface the courts for other games, including pickleball, shuffleboard and four-square. An additional $50,000 has been pledged by the Luick Memorial Trust, and $10,000 has been awarded by the Hanson Family Foundation of Forest City.
Remodeling and renovation at the Belmond-Klemme Outdoor Classroom dome house, $30,750. The facility, which is located north of Belmond on Highway 69, needs restrooms and other improvements to make it into a meeting venue.
A feasibility study on the future of the old Parker School Gymnasium, $27,250. The city will hire a consultant to study the possible uses for the old gymnasium, including as a community indoor recreation space.
Renovation of the Main Street arcade, $25,000. The money will be used to preserve the arcade and help with start-up costs for a self-taxing district that will provide future money for needed repairs.
Sorenson explained the Sept. 12 event was held “as a thank you to our partners, to celebrate the organizations in Belmond, and to recognize the local leaders here.”
Looking ahead, there will continue to be an annual period in which groups can apply to the Jacobson Fund for Belmond. A local committee will review the applications and decide how the money should be granted. The committee may grow to nine members with rotating three-year terms of service.
In comparison to the Jacobson gift, Belmond's Luick Memorial Trust holds assets of approximately $3 million.
Trinity Lutheran Church will also benefit from the late Richard O. Jacobson's philanthropy to his hometown. It has been announced that the congregation will receive $2 million to build a large addition on the east side of the church and do other remodeling.
Mr. Jacobson was the largest donor to Belmond's ten-year-old elementary school that bears his name. He and his foundation are also long-time contributors to Belmond-Klemme Scholarship Foundation II.