Challenge Met! $200K Earmarked for Future Humanities Programming in Sioux Falls Area

Left to Right: SFACF President Andy Patterson, SDHC board member Cathy Clark, past SDHC board member Sheryl Baloun, SFACF board vice chair Scott Christensen, SDHC board chair Judith Meierhenry, SDHC executive director Sherry DeBoer, former SDHC board member Margaret Cash Wegner, former SDHC board chair Jean Nicholson. The above group of people met at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation Office to celebrate SDHC meeting its fundraising challenge an entire year early. 

$50,000 Matching Funds Presented to South Dakota Humanities Council during Sioux Falls Ceremony

The South Dakota Humanities Council received a check on Friday, Dec. 15 that was cause for a major celebration. 

It marked a momentous achievement for our organization and the generous donors who helped us meet a fundraising milestone that will provide an extra $200,000 for humanities programming in the Sioux Falls area.  

The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation hosted the South Dakota Humanities Council on Friday, Dec. 15 to celebrate SDHC meeting the SFACF "Arts Endowment Challenge: A Community Foundation Initiative."

The South Dakota Humanities Council is the first participating organization in the challenge to achieve its goal and receive a matching grant. At the celebration, SDHC board chair Judith Meierhenry accepted the $50,000 challenge contribution on behalf of SDHC. 

SDHC and two local non-profits – the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science and the Sioux Empire Community Theatre – were chosen in 2015 for the program through a competitive application process. Upon completion of their fundraising goals, SFACF provides a $1 match for every $3 raised in endowment donations by the participating organizations. SFACF holds and manages the endowment funds. SDHC met its goal one year early.

The memo line from SDHC's Arts Endowment Challenge Match check from Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

The memo line from SDHC's Arts Endowment Challenge Match check from Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

Strengthening Sustainability

SFACF President Andy Patterson said the Arts Endowment Challenge was created to "strengthen sustainability by increasing assets and heightening public awareness of the importance of maintaining a vibrant arts community. We endorse the value of the arts in our region, and congratulate SDHC on meeting its challenge goal."

"We're excited to reward the first of the three organizations who accepted our ambitious challenge," said Regina Jahr, Vice President for Development of the SFACF. "The South Dakota Humanities Council has enriched our community by providing books and author presentations to local elementary students, and this endowment will enable them to continue promoting reading and literacy in the Sioux Falls area."

The council's endowment raised through the Arts Endowment Challenge will support literary arts programming such as One Book South Dakota, the Speakers Bureau, Book Club to Go, literary grants and Festival of Books events in Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner and McCook counties.

More Literary Opportunities

SDHC Executive Director Sherry DeBoer is eager to continue providing valuable literary opportunities for Sioux Falls-area readers of all ages.

"I'm so grateful for the generous gifts from the SFACF and the over 60 organizations and individuals whose contributions will impact so many lives," she said. "I'm especially grateful to those who provided major leadership gifts, including the current and past board and committee members who helped SDHC raise $150,000 to receive this match. Meeting our goal an entire year before the deadline illustrates our proficiency and will allow us to begin drawing money for special programs one year sooner."

Perpetual funding of literary arts programming in the Sioux Falls area fits the South Dakota Humanities Council's mission to "celebrate literature, promote civil conversation, and tell the stories that define our state."

"We pursue fundraising opportunities vigorously because we know how meaningful these humanities experiences are for both impressionable young people and adults who are interested in becoming students again," DeBoer said.

SDHC Fundraising Helps Bring Big Name Authors

J. Ryan Stradal spends time with readers at a 2017 One Book SD event in Sioux Falls.

J. Ryan Stradal spends time with readers at a 2017 One Book SD event in Sioux Falls.

SDHC brought Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo to Sioux Falls for the Young Readers Festival of Books in 2014 as part of its Young Readers Initiative, which has since provided more than 12,000 books to elementary students in Sioux Falls and other areas of South Dakota.

Adults also experience "up close and personal" meetings with prominent authors through connections established by SDHC and Festival of Books. J. Ryan Stradal, a New York Times Bestselling author, discussed intimate details of his hit novel "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" with readers in Sioux Falls in 2017 before appearing at the statewide South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

About SFACF and the Arts Endowment Challenge

The Arts Endowment Challenge is made possible by a generous unrestricted bequest to the Community Foundation. "As a result of this legacy, generations of Sioux Falls area residents will enjoy performances, create beauty, enhance the economy of our area, and enrich our culture," Patterson said. "That's why the Community Foundation board chose to use this generous gift to spur significant giving to qualifying arts organizations."

Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation gathers, grows, and grants charitable dollars — creating endowments, investing the assets, and using the proceeds to fund worthy community projects. Since its inception in 1984, SFACF has distributed over $138 million in grants to charitable, educational, cultural, religious, and scientific activities. SFACF serves Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, and McCook counties and communities within a 25-mile radius of the City of Sioux Falls. Visit for more information.

Help Us Continue Valuable Programming 

Want to join the masses of SDHC supporters who help us accomplish these important goals? Click below to find out more about how to donate to the South Dakota Humanities Council