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Bethel Foundation Funds Strategic Growth Awards

The Bethel University Foundation announces new initiative for faculty and staff called the Strategic Growth Awards.

The Bethel University Foundation recently announced a new opportunity for faculty and staff members to receive funding for strategic initiatives that enhance the effective and sustainable growth of Bethel’s enrollment and/or the affordability of a Bethel education. In the first year, the foundation will fund two Strategic Growth Awards in the amount of $40,000-50,000 each.

“We hope to accomplish two main goals,” explains Angela Hjelle, executive director of the Bethel University Foundation. “First, we would like to help fund strategic initiatives that will benefit the institution. Second, we want to enhance the visibility of the foundation.”

Awards will be funded for the 2017-2018 academic year and will be open to academic departments, support and operational offices, athletic teams, and special projects. The Board of Governors for the foundation recently named five members to the philanthropy committee. This new committee will review grant applications and recommend finalists to the entire Board of Governors for approval.

During this pilot year, the committee will accept applications until June 30 and announce the award recipients in late August, with funding starting in September. In the future, Hjelle says they hope to accept applications in January and February with recipients announced in June. They also hope to offer more awards at some point, but during this pilot year they are limiting the awards to two.

The Bethel University Foundation manages the university’s endowment and trust assets. A small portion of the overall portfolio is foundation-owned assets. Rather than having the earnings from these assets sit unused, Hjelle suggested treating them like an endowment and spending a small percentage of them each year. The Board of Governors will decide how much they want to spend each year—typically it is around 4%—which is taken from the earnings, not the principal. “It makes the funds more alive,” she says. “We’ll be able to fund strategic initiatives that wouldn’t otherwise be funded.”

Hjelle came up with the idea for this grant program after hearing a presentation at a professional conference last year. She spoke to some foundation board members about it and from there the board helped to make it happen. “It has gotten the board members much more engaged,” says Hjelle. “Reading the applications will also help the board members to be more aware of what’s happening on campus.”

One important part of the application will be for employees to explain how their proposed initiative will be sustainable. “Just because we can fund it one year doesn’t mean we’ll be able to fund it going forward,” Hjelle explains.

At the same time, if an initiative does not receive funding this year, Hjelle encourages employees to try again next year. “We know there are a lot of good ideas out there that just aren’t getting funded,” Hjelle says. “It’s going to be fascinating to see the applications that come in, and then to see how the Board of Governors evaluates and wrestles with them.”

For a grant application or more information, contact Angela Hjelle at a-hjelle@bethel.edu or 651.635.1001.

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