Since 2012, the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation, has granted over $700,000 to Nebraska’s small-town public libraries through a term endowment established by the late Shirley Kreutz Bennett, a lifelong educator originally from Harvard, Nebraska.
Kreutz Bennett’s estate gift has helped dozens of Nebraska libraries in communities with populations under 3,000 achieve a margin of excellence over the last 11 years. The Fund spent the remainder of the gift’s principal in 2022, marking over a decade of success and countless lives impacted by her generosity.
Facilities Grants supported construction of new or expanded library buildings and renovation or restoration work, Enhancement Grants allowed for improvements in library services, and Planning for Accreditation Grants covered activities and expenses associated with earning Public Library Accreditation from the Nebraska Library Commission.
“The reason she focused on that is because she did a lot of traveling and experiencing the world,” said NCF’s Kristine Gale. “She felt libraries were a way for rural Nebraskans to learn and experience things they may not otherwise be able to experience. Shirley would feel amazing about the impact she made.”
In this final year, requests were received for more than what was left in the fund, so the Nebraska Library Commission contributed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help cover some of the grants. As a result, all applications submitted in 2022 were funded.
The Nebraska Community Foundation and the Nebraska Library Commission screened applicants for eligibility and provided guidance for those invited to submit proposals. Each year, the Kreutz Bennett Donor- Advised Fund advisory committee, made up of Kreutz Bennett’s nieces and nephews, reviewed applications and awarded funding to match every local dollar raised.
In 2022, the final Kreutz Bennett Fund Grants were awarded to the following thirteen libraries:
- Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library, $14,427: outdoor learning space
- Butler Memorial Library, Cambridge, $10,000: renovations
- Clarkson Public Library, $3,000: children’s activity wall
- Davenport Public Library, $750: planning for accreditation activities
- Lied Lincoln Township Library, $13,000: outdoor learning space
- Lied Randolph Public Library, $3,800: musical outdoor playground
- Logan County Public Library, Stapleton, $1,000: OverDrive, Summer Reading Program supplies
- Maltman Memorial Public Library, Wood River, $4,000: purchase Golden Sower and Newbery Award children’s books
- Mead Public Library, $2,000: collection development
- Palmyra Memorial Library, $15,080: architectural firm site survey and conceptual designs for a new library building
- Scotia Public Library, $4,000: Story Time kits
- Sutherland Public Library, $5,041: computers, tables, chairs
- Valparaiso Public Library, $5,000: replace flooring