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UG meeting on casino contributionsUnified Government Commissioner Brian McKiernan, left, went over some of the options on the casino charitable grants with the UG Commission on Jan. 10. A vote is scheduled Jan. 17 on the rules for distributing the $500,000 charitable grants from Hollywood Casino. (Staff photo)
UG meeting on casino contributions
by Mary Rupert
Health projects – specifically nutrition and active living – will be the focus of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway charitable grants.
The casino is expected to give the Unified Government about $500,000 in the next few months for charitable grants in the community. The Unified Government Commission is continuing to narrow its criteria for the grants, and a final proposal will be submitted for a commission vote soon, scheduled for the 7 p.m. Jan. 17 meeting.
Leading a discussion, Commissioner Brian McKiernan and Public Health Department Director Joe Connor went over the committee recommendations Jan. 10 to get the commission’s consensus. At the 5 p.m. Jan. 10 meeting, the commissioners’ consensus, for example, was to exclude academic scholarships from the grants. The casino already is giving another considerable amount of money to the Wyandotte County public school districts under a separate agreement. UG officials said they didn't want just a pass-through grant.
During an informal consensus discussion, the commission also excluded grant proposals from local governments and school districts. Also excluded are grants to individuals, and grants that would replace public and private funding. The grants also may not be used to pay someone to run a capital fundraising campaign. Also excluded were endowment programs, and grants that would retire debts. Also voted down were applications for funding to cover operational deficits. The commission also decided against spending any grant money for lobbying and political campaigning,
Faith-based programs will be able to apply. Fraternal and other programs that are open to members only will not qualify, although if their grant proposal includes the public in Wyandotte County it might be eligible. Funds also couldn’t be used for consulting fees. There was a small bit of disagreement about whether funding should be used for advocacy efforts to change public policy, but the consensus was it should not. There were other criteria approved as well.
At the lengthy discussion at the meeting Jan. 10, the UG Commission came to a consensus on several items for distributing $500,000 in Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway contributions to charities. One-year grants from a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $50,000 will be awarded, according to UG officials.
The UG anticipates the first $500,000 from the casino to become available in February, Mayor Joe Reardon said.
Under discussion was a process that will go through the Greater Kansas City Foundation to screen applicants. After screening applicants, the results will be brought back to a UG committee. After applicants are screened, a UG Selection Committee will review applications and recommend grant funding, according to Connor, Health Department director. The committee would be made up of six appointed volunteers, representing categories including nonprofit professionals, business, academic, local community residents, and Hollywood Casino. The UG Commission would appoint this committee. Through the appointment, the casino will be maintaining a large role in the grant process.
The UG Commission does not select the recipients, but after the Selection Committee makes its choices, the UG Commission has a final vote to approve it.
Reardon said the UG Commission would be acting as a watchdog over the Selection Committee.
Several commissioners agreed that they would like to see the grants used to start new programs that would improve health. Commissioner Tom Cooley said he would like to see the money used as seed money to start programs. The commission also wants those receiving the grants to leverage the dollars and to show measurable results.
Connor said he would bring the consensus reached by commissioners last Thursday to the UG Commission for a formal vote. That vote is scheduled at the 7 p.m. Jan. 17 meeting.
Organizations eligible to apply would be nonprofit 501(c)(3).
The funding priorities, according to a guideline sheet, were listed as access to healthy food, active living, communication and education. The committee recommended a goal statement: “In keeping with the intent of Healthy Communities Wyandotte, the focus will be to fund programs that increase knowledge and action toward long-term changes that enable our Wyandotte County community members to eat healthy food and be physically active. Applications should demonstrate cultural relevance, address opportunities to increase knowledge and improve the food environment and/or support active living through utilization of Wyandotte County’s environmental infrastructure.”
More details on the plans start on page 95 of the UG Commission Jan. 17 agenda online at www.wycokck.org.
To reach Mary Rupert, editor of the Wyandotte Daily News, email firstname.lastname@example.org.