It has been 10 years since the incorporation of the Mariah Fund in Dodge City and southwest Kansas.

The nonprofit foundation was formed in 2008 to provide capital funding to nonprofits in Dodge City and other communities of western Kansas for the exclusive purpose of enhancing regional tourism through both targeted and collaborative efforts.

The Mariah Fund focused on the 22 counties in southwest Kansas, funding grants for tourism, heritage and cultural projects.

"After 10 years — we’ve shared a great deal of experiences with you, forming partnerships and together we’ve all made things happen," said Jeff Thorpe, president and CEO of Mariah Fund Inc. "A simple idea became a community asset to Southwest Kansas and we all have our fingerprints on that success and economic impact."

Donor funding comes through a legal agreement with Butler National Service Corp., manager of Boot Hill Casino & Resort, with initial funding beginning in 2010 with the opening of the casino.

"Every grant tells a story of community involvement, giving life to projects that enhance our lives and bring visitors to our towns," Thorpe said.

Mariah Fund has partnered with 86 separate entities in 23 Kansas counties, granting nearly $2.2 million and funding 153 projects with total costs of $17.1 million in its 10 years.

According to Convention & Visitors Bureau director Jan Stevens, the initial proposal from the Boot Hill Casino and Resort included provisions for a fund that would support tourism in southwest Kansas. "The Mariah Fund was the result of that commitment," Stevens said. "I’m not sure other state-owned casinos from around the state have made such a large commitment to tourism.

"It shows the forward thinking and spirit of cooperation of the folks who put together the winning bid for Dodge City."

Stevens added that the Mariah Fund aids with education in the form of a scholarship to those who attend the Tourism Conference each year with many tourism professionals taking advantage of the opportunity.

"I have seen the Mariah Fund has helped so many communities with increasing tourism, and Dodge City has been one of the top recipients," Stevens said. "How lucky we are here in southwest Kansas to have such a commitment."

Some of the recipients of the Mariah Fund has been Dodge City Days, Dodge City Roundup, Carnegie Center for the Arts, Boot Hill Museum and many more.

"Mariah Fund has contributed monetarily to Carnegie over the years for various projects and events," Carnegie director Bobbi Brown said. "Mariah Fund has provided grant monies for the Window of Opportunity Fund, which helped us repair the original stained glass windows (they are over 100 years old as the building was built in 1906), bringing the Dennis Hopper statues, commonly called 'Muffler Men,' to Dodge, the most well-known being Salsa Man (Mobile Man is standing near Sublette) and allowing Carnegie to create sign boards for each and providing us the opportunity to create a 'Back to school' carnival coming Aug. 24 this year.

"Without these grants, the Carnegie could not bring so many exciting and fun projects and events to the community of Dodge City. It is our intention to promote the arts through classes, events and tours of our beloved building. It truly is an historical masterpiece and we appreciate each and every member, donor and visitor who help us thrive."

Lara Brehm, executive director for Boot Hill Museum, said, "The Mariah Fund has been so generous to Boot Hill Museum for many years and we are so appreciative for all that they have given us. These projects would not be possible without the Mariah Fund."

For more information, contact Thorpe at jeff@mariahfund.com, call 620-255-2910, or visit the website at www.mariahfund.com.

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com.