For this month's partner highlight, we spoke to Barbara Bartle, who has served as president of the Lincoln Community Foundation (LCF) for the past twelve years and will be retiring later this month. LCF has been a longtime partner of the PPC, collaborating on Prosper Lincoln and Lincoln Vital Signs to address many of the challenges facing the Lincoln community. The positive responses to Lincoln Vital Signs led to the creation of the Prosper Lincoln initiative, which brings together leaders from across the community to create system change in five areas: early childhood, innovative workforce, strong neighborhoods, affordable housing, and civic investments.
What are some of the lessons you've learned from your time as president of the Lincoln Community Foundation?
Some of the basic things are the importance of having a great staff. Having that base and a great board of directors is so key. I think that it really helped to have all those pieces in place. From there we could just try to be everywhere we could be and bring people together. I'm from a small town, the feeling of what we historically know about barn raising is that it takes everybody. It takes the whole community to get it done. That's just the way I look at the community. It takes us all.
Do you have a program that comes to mind when you think of the impact of the Lincoln Community Foundation?
You can't deny the success of Give to Lincoln Day. To date, over $40 million that has been donated to the nonprofits. What a generous community we have. It’s just amazing. The first year of COVID we raised $1.2 million in March, and we were thinking maybe we shouldn't have Give to Lincoln Day that year. We went forward with it and raised $7 million. It was amazing and now in 2021 it raised $8 million. What has happened is that it has become that barn. People love the way Lincoln feels on that day. They want to recreate it, and they love the spirit of it. It is so important to build that culture of giving.
Lincoln Vital Signs is another impactful initiative. In 2012, at a funders meeting a big concern was identified. With the recession there were federal, state and local budget cuts. The needs were going up. How could we explain to the community? We came to the Public Policy Center and had the great opportunity to work with the researchers there to eventually commission what we now call Lincoln Vital Signs. That was another tremendous body of work. Funders have continued to stay at the table because they know how important Lincoln Vital Signs is to the community. I feel really good about being a part of that.
What hopes do you have for the future trajectory of the Lincoln Community Foundation?
There has been growth at the Lincoln the Community Foundation. More and more people know about LCF and feel connected and want to help. A talented staff and dedicated board are in place. We have a great new leader, Alec Gorynski, coming in 2022. We have the energy and commitment to continue to grow and make a difference in our community. Alec has been a grantmaker and involved in housing initiatives in Omaha and Lincoln. LCF is in a really great position to move into this new era.
Our community leadership, our giving days, and donor advised fund grants are all about today. At the same time, we have this great body of legacy work to help people who want to make sure that Lincoln is on a good trajectory, forever. We're the keeper of these wonderful legacies. It is a great organization where we can be working for today and for tomorrow.