River City Six: Jeff Yost
Nebraska Community Foundation (www.nebcommfound.org) is a statewide 501(c)(3) organization using charitable giving to build prosperous communities. Jeff Yost is the President & CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation.
Tell us a little about your organization.
Nebraska Community Foundation isn’t your typical community foundation, nor is it a grant maker. NCF is in the empowerment business. We work with more than 200 affiliated funds and 1,500 volunteers across the state to put financial and human capital to work in their places, based on local needs and priorities. Using the tools of philanthropy, community development and economic development, we’re helping Nebraskans across the state create the hometowns of their dreams.
What are you the most proud of?
I am incredibly proud of all that Nebraska Community Foundation has achieved. This organization continues to grow and evolve in ways I never could have imagined. Currently we serve a network of 250 communities across Greater Nebraska. Our network and this movement continues to grow by leaps and bounds. In the last five years, NCF has received 39,000 contributions to its affiliated funds. Three hundred Nebraskans have told us they are including their hometown in their estate plans. Since Nebraska Community Foundation began its work, more than $292 million has been reinvested in Nebraska’s people and places. It’s truly extraordinary.
On a more personal note, I am beaming with pride over the success of my hometown, Red Cloud and the work of the Red Cloud Community Foundation Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation which has been instrumental to Red Cloud’s progress.
Red Cloud has prioritized heritage tourism and early childhood development as two driving forces behind their people attraction and economic development strategies. Many graduates from the late 1990s and the early 2000s have returned home to build businesses and raise their kids. Elementary school classes are now significantly larger.
Red Cloud identified its assets. Every year at least 8,000 tourists come to Red Cloud to visit Cather historical sites. 80% of these visitors are from out-of-state. But very few of them spend the night or a weekend. What if 20% of these visitors spent the weekend as opposed to the day? Thanks to local philanthropic dollars there is now a full-time heritage tourism development director working on this opportunity. The economic impact of heritage tourism development could exceed $3 million per year.
This December Red Cloud will open a state-of-the-art early childhood development center that will serve 80 children. This $3.5 million project (which includes a $1.5 million endowment) will make Red Cloud even more attractive to talented young people, newcomers and returners.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
An extremely committed NCF volunteer and longtime board member once told me that the nicest thing you can do for your children is give them siblings. I think it’s a pretty profound thing to say, especially being one of six kids. My siblings have provided a huge support network in lots of different ways throughout my life.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
What is your favorite TV show?
The West Wing.
If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so? – Nebraska Community Foundation is always on the lookout for organizations and individuals who are passionate about the future of Greater Nebraska to partner and collaborate with. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll point you in the right direction. You can also learn more about Nebraska Community Foundation’s mission and work at www.nebcommfound.org.