Community projects in Burdett, Plains, Wilson, and Yates Center will kick off a crowd-funding site being rolled out by the We Kan Network, a branch of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
Crowd-funding is an online mechanism that typically brings in small amounts of money from a large number of people. The site is being built by Reflective Group, a cloud-based technology company out of Baldwin City.
Kansas Sampler Foundation director Marci Penner said, "We've been working on this for years and now we're ready to plug some pilot projects into the system. Thanks to the talents and expertise of Reflective Group CEO Mike Bosch and staff, by mid-October the site (kanstarter.com) will be live and projects will be posted. People can read about the projects, watch the videos and then choose to donate or, in some cases, volunteer."
Project coordinators are asked to choose projects and shape them in a manner that will help sustain the community or give it an energy boost. Multi-generation involvement is also a requirement. Penner said, "We want to do things in a way that go beyond just funding a project but also help create a stronger community."
Burdett is seeking support to renovate an old community (free) miniature golf course.
Plains is building a store that will provide many unique services, primarily convenient access to fresh healthy food items at affordable prices. Their Kanstarter project will be to obtain land for the store.
Wilson lost their 1901 opera house to a fire several years ago and will transform the remains into an amphitheatre.
Yates Center is working on a bicycle and hiking trail around their lake and golf course.
The pilot projects will each have a cap of $10,000 and will have a time limit for their fundraising campaign. If volunteers are needed, details may be added to the project site to help find people with the skills needed.
The process involves a preliminary submission process which is reviewed by the We Kan Network board of Andrea Springer, Hutchinson; Liz Sosa, Garden City; and Luke Mahin, Courtland. If approved, the project coordinators are then asked to add a video and a few other requirements to their online showcase. When ready, their project goes live and anyone online is able to read about the project and donate if they wish. The site is boosted and shared through social media and traditional avenues.
Penner said, "This isn't just about raising money. It's about making communities better places to live and visit. We encourage committees to get feedback from all ages and put a twist on the projects. For instance, what can be done along the Yates Center trail using local themes or resources to make it more appealing, artistic, or unique in some way? Why build a standard trail when you can do something unique, like build an archway of used bicycle parts?"
Around the first of the year, the site will be open to all eligible non-profit community projects. To find out more about Kanstarter, go to www.kansassampler.org.