The University of Nebraska Foundation’s board of directors has announced the election of Bill Jackman of Dallas as the new board chair for a two-year term.

The foundation’s trustees elected Anne Hubbard, M.D., and Thomas H. Warren Sr., both of Omaha, to serve as board directors for a three-year term.

Board member Don Voelte of Omaha was elected chair-elect and will serve as board chair beginning in fall 2021.

JoAnn Martin of Lincoln, CEO of Ameritas, concluded her term as board chair and continues her service as a member of the board of directors.

“Our directors are incredibly generous in sharing their time, talent and treasure to help us in our mission to grow relationships and resources that enable the University of Nebraska to change lives and save lives,” said Brian Hastings, president and CEO. “The foundation was formed 83 years ago by volunteer leaders, and today we are fortunate to still have a cadre of our most ardent supporters who provide outstanding volunteer leadership.”

Jackman graduated from the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln College of Business. A former member of the Nebraska Huskers basketball team, he went on to play professional basketball with teams in the United States and other countries before earning an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He’s worked in finance and wealth management and is currently senior vice president of wealth management investments at UBS Financial Services in Dallas. He’s been a trustee of the NU Foundation since 2000 and joined the board of directors in 2012.

Hubbard received a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine and practiced as a radiologist for more than 20 years. She spent her career at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and then at UNMC and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha. She is director of the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation, a family foundation established by her mother. She’s been a trustee of the NU Foundation since 2017.

Warren is president and CEO of the Urban League of Nebraska. He received a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in criminal justice and is a graduate of Morningside College where he studied criminal justice and sociology. He joined the Omaha Police Department in 1983 and served as chief of police from 2003 to 2008. He’s been a trustee of the NU Foundation since 2015 and a member of its governance committee since 2017.

Voelte is owner of VoKe Energy and has held leadership positions for energy companies over his career spanning more than 40 years. He’s a graduate of the UNL College of Engineering and chairs the college’s advisory board. He joined the foundation’s board in 2016, serves on various board committees and has been a foundation trustee since 2001.

Other current members of the foundation’s board of directors are Dan Bahensky of Kearney, Paul Engler of Amarillo, Texas, Charles D. Fritch, M.D. of Bakersfield, California, Carey Hamilton of Omaha, Norman R. Hedgecock of Lincoln, Margaret M. Holman of New York City, Robert Kelley of Scottsbluff, Rodrigo López of Omaha, Jane E. Miller of Omaha, Angie Muhleisen of Lincoln and J. Scott Nelson of Lincoln.

Directors who serve as ex officio board members are Brian F. Hastings, president and CEO of the NU Foundation; Timothy Clare, J.D., chairman of the University of Nebraska board of regents; and Susan M. Fritz, Ph.D., interim president of the University of Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and University of Nebraska Foundation hosted a dedication and ribbon-cutting event Oct. 22, 2019, celebrating the philanthropy that made the Biomechanics Research Building’s new addition possible.

The privately funded $11.6 million expansion more than doubled the size of the original building, bringing the facility to 57,000 square feet and adding critical space for research, machining, prototyping and education. The building is home to the Division of Biomechanics and Research Development and houses all research conducted by the Department of Biomechanics, the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability and associated programs.

The William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation of Omaha generously provided the lead donation for the project to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

UNO’s Biomechanics Research Building is the largest academic and research facility of its kind in the world, and its research and education programs are at the forefront of the study of the human body in motion.

The theme of the celebration was The Impossible Dream, a reference to the Spanish novel “Don Quixote” and the musical adaptation “Man of La Mancha.” Nick Stergiou, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomechanics and the UNO Distinguished Community Research Chair in Biomechanics, said the theme speaks to the boldness of what his team is working to accomplish and the incredible contributions of Omaha’s philanthropic community.

“We are beyond excited to celebrate how an impossible dream became possible,” Stergiou said. “The vision and the support of Bill, Ruth, and all of our donors has been a tremendous blessing as we’ve grown in size and impact. This event is about how their belief and generosity helped us achieve something we could only imagine when I started at UNO more than 20 years ago. Today, I’m proud to say we always rethink the impossible, since nothing seems truly impossible anymore.”

Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. said the event was about both generosity and vision, and that the best is yet to come for biomechanics at UNO.

“I will tell you that it’s a promise to the future,” Gold said. “The discoveries, the creative activity, the research, the students that will pass through the halls of this building will make you proud, and all of us are here to ensure that that is the case.”

Construction on the addition began in the spring of 2018. Work is now in its final stages.

The dedication event follows the September announcement that the Department of Biomechanics received a grant of $10.3 million, the largest single research grant in UNO history. The new record surpasses the department’s previous record, which lasted five years.

In this video, Chancellor Gold and Department Chair Nick Stergiou discuss the importance of recent grant funding and the research goals of the university’s biomechanics program.

I will tell you that it’s a promise to the future. The discoveries, the creative activity, the research, the students that will pass through the halls of this building will make you proud, and all of us are here to ensure that that is the case.” Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. Chancellor.

A replica of Barbourofelis fricki, an ambush predator that stalked camels, horses and other prey across Nebraska roughly 7 million years ago, is a centerpiece of Cherish Nebraska. The privately funded exhibition is located on the fourth floor of the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall on UNL’s campus.

Get your hands on Nebraska’s history

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Cherish Nebraska explores the future of science by interacting with its past.

Michela Wipf will always cherish the day this past March when she chaperoned her fourth-grade daughter’s class field trip to Lincoln.

The highlight, Wipf said, was touring the newly renovated fourth-floor exhibit space at the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall – a state-of-the-art space called Cherish Nebraska – and watching her daughter Lilli, in her pink pants and pixie haircut, explore all the galleries with her young hands and brain. …

Lilli studied rocks and fossils and feathers under magnifying machines. … She learned about climate change from a story being told on a huge digital globe … she learned about little parasites that live inside the guts of fish and about animals of all kinds, from all eras of Nebraska’s fascinating natural history. … She even got to observe a real scientist in action in a real lab behind glass walls.

Lilli wants to be a scientist herself when she grows up. So it was a day, Wipf said, that her daughter will probably always cherish, too.

 “I think I took about 100 photos,” said Wipf, who runs a photography studio in Weeping Water, Nebraska. “I loved seeing Lilli and her best friend in that tunnel where they could pop their heads out. Then I loved watching all the kids sticking their hands in the mouth of that – I think it was a mountain lion – and pretend to get eaten. That was cool. Their expressions were priceless. I just loved watching Lilli interact with all the computers that where everywhere. 

“I just loved the entire thing. I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to Morrill Hall before. And then walking into the fourth floor, I just could not believe how many interactive projects there were. There was something for everybody.” 

The privately funded Cherish Nebraska, which opened this past February, celebrates the state’s natural heritage as it has been shaped over the millennia. Visitors of all ages can immerse themselves in the exciting world of scientific discovery while learning about the university’s research on all of its campuses.

Susan Weller, the museum’s director, says a goal of Cherish Nebraska is to inspire kids like Lilli and her young classmates from Weeping Water Elementary to consider careers someday in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“Honestly, I think a lot of kids who go there will now consider more science careers because of how interactive it is — we probably could have spent three or four hours just on the fourth floor. We can't wait to go back.

- Michela Wipf
After being closed to the public for more than 50 years, the fourth level of the historic 1920s-era Morrill Hall has been transformed into state-of-the-art exhibits using modern technology. Cherish Nebraska celebrates the state’s natural and cultural history.

“You can’t aspire to have a career you don’t know about or haven’t tried out,” Weller said. “Cherish Nebraska opens visitors’ eyes to the diverse kinds of STEM careers already out there – typically in a fun, engaging way. Who knew there’s a career studying fish guts to discover parasites? Or that you could be paid to collect snow to predict spring melt run-off?

 “We’ve heard many stories of how visits to the museum inspired careers in a variety of science professions. For those who didn’t become scientists, the museum still has been central to their appreciation of fossils and other wonders of the natural world. Our hands-on science exploration zone encourages children to be scientists themselves, ask questions, and search for answers. Our visitors are encouraged to ‘do’ science – that’s the most fun part.” 

Morrill Hall served over 94,700 visitors in fiscal year 2018, Weller said, and about 22,000 of those were Nebraska students. Morrill Hall also served an additional 1,800 students with its virtual field trip science programs. 

Lead donors for Cherish Nebraska are the Hubbard Family Foundation, the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation and Ruth and Bill Scott. Others supporting it include the Don Dillon Family Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation, Mark and Diann Sorensen and Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Friends of the State Museum. 

Until the opening of Cherish Nebraska, the fourth floor of Morrill Hall had been closed off to the public for more than 50 years.  

Wipf said her daughter had been looking forward to going to Morrill Hall because her dad had been talking it up to her for months. He’d told Lilli how, when he was a kid, he and his father would send fossils they found exploring the creek beds around Weeping Water to the scientists at Morrill Hall.

After going to Morrill Hall that March day, Wipf said, Lilli came home and talked it up to her little sisters.

“Lilli absolutely loved it,” she said. “She was so excited that she came home and told her dad and her twin sisters all about it. Of course, the fourth floor was the main topic. She even wanted me to buy a season’s pass.”

The family, she said, is now  planning a return trip to Morrill Hall this summer.

 “It’s just such an amazing museum,”  Wipf said. “Honestly, I think a lot of kids who go there will now consider more science careers because of how interactive it is – we probably could have spent three or four hours just on the fourth floor. 

“We can’t wait to go back.”

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Morrill Hall Fund

A gift to this fund provides much needed support for the general benefit and support of the museum’s programs and exhibits. This fund is expendable, rather than endowed, meaning it is made available immediately to the museum for its priority needs. 

Jerry Varner earned his bachelor’s degree (1963), master’s degree (1965) and doctorate (1972) — all from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln — in electrical engineering.

Jerry became a member of the Burnett Society in 2015 when he decided to include the University of Nebraska Medical Center in his estate plans.

After teaching in the electrical engineering department at UNL for 54 years, he currently serves as the head undergraduate adviser. In addition to his career at UNL, he consulted for the National Institutes of Health for 20 years and enjoys tutoring fifth-grade math students at a local elementary school.

Let’s learn more about Jerry and why he supports NU.

What was the first job you ever had?

My first job was selling popcorn in the lobby of the Rivoli Theatre in Seward, Nebraska. I was in middle school and worked there until I went to UNL. I eventually did everything there except sell tickets. I was even one of the projectionists. That was a time when movies were going to widescreen and the technology was changing. It intrigued me because I have always liked the engineering aspects of how things work.

Best advice anyone ever gave you?  

The best advice I can give is “smile and the whole world smiles with you; cry and you cry alone.” It doesn’t do any good to be negative. Being positive helps you learn from adversity, which is always the best learning experience. As a teacher, I try to get students to be problem solvers and productive contributors to society. Technology by itself is not the answer. It’s what can be done with it in beneficial ways that is.

Who is someone from history you’d want to invite to a dinner party if you could? And why?

I would invite Leonardo da Vinci to my place for dinner because he was the original Renaissance man. He was able to be a changing force in both science and the arts. He was centuries ahead of his time in his conceptions of what was possible and had workable theories to achieve those dreams.

What is the first question you’d ask that guest from history?

I would love to ask him what he thought about the world around him and the scientific and art culture at the time he was living.

What is the one song you would be sure to play to set the mood at that dinner party?

I tried to find a song that would encompass engineering to set a mood and found “Make a Circuit With Me” on Google. It’s a real song from the ’70s, but probably not very popular.

What is the question you like being asked the most?

I like being asked how long I’ve been teaching and why. I’ve really been teaching since my grad school days in the ’60s. I never intended to be a teacher, but I had a professor while I was a grad student who had me write one of the labs he was teaching. He then said, “Well, Jerry, you wrote this lab, why don’t you just go ahead teach it?” — which I did. He also had me fill in for him in other classes when he was gone, more and more often. I found I really liked the teaching experience and seemed to connect well with the students.

I think that professor, who was really my mentor, did all that on purpose because he saw the teacher potential in me, and I’m glad he did. As I mentioned before, I enjoy the life skills that I hopefully am able to pass along to students in my teaching — things like problem solving, common sense and value-based decision making. And if a little engineering gets thrown in there, well then, that’s all the better! Ultimately, I try to get my students not to fear failure.

Why do you plan to leave a gift to the University of Nebraska in your estate?

Because of my recent experience with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, I am including them in my estate plans. I want to help make a difference in people’s lives by making available new and better health care for everyone. And on top of that, I get such a great feeling when I’m “giving back.” No chemical drug can make me feel the joy I get when I am able to help somebody by giving back. And I don’t just mean financially. Giving back also means giving time for a cause, not for me, but for others and those who may follow us. I hope that no matter what my physical condition may be, I’ll always be able to do something in the spirit of contributing.

Dr. Carole Levin, a beloved history professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, established a history scholarship fund to help students succeed.

She chose to create the fund now as an expendable fund so it can be awarded and help students now, with the intent of fulling endowing it through a planned gift.

She wanted to make an impact sooner than later.

However, through a great relationship with an anonymous donor, two generous gifts have been made to her scholarship fund, enabling Dr. Levin to endow the fund now.

The inaugural recipient of the scholarship is Ceclia “C.J.” Kracl, who was selected in 2018.

In this video, C.J. expresses her thankfulness for the scholarship and shares why Dr. Levin is such an inspirational teacher and human.

Taylor Morgan, a freshman University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineering student, is grateful to be one of the Ken Jones Scholars — and grateful for the chance to meet Ken Jones in person.

Check out the video below and see the impact this scholarship has had on her and her family as she says, “Thank you to the Burnett Society, for all you do. All students, including me, really appreciate it.”

Taylor is one of more than 50 students who have received the Ken Jones Scholarship so far.

Jim attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney before enlisting in the Air Force. He then spent 20 years at the State Bank of Riverdale before becoming Buffalo County commissioner. Jim was a state senator from 1990 to 2007 in the Nebraska legislature. Learn more about Jim and why he supports the University of Nebraska.

What was the first job you ever had?

My dad was an electrician, and he owned a service station. I was about 12 or 13 years old, and I thought I knew everything, like we all do. I went with him and helped wire houses, back when electricity was first coming in the 1940s during the war. Then in about 1951, I worked at the station and helped a neighbor irrigate. I was pretty diversified!

Best advice anyone ever gave you?   

I was at my grandmother’s house when I was about 7 or so, and I dropped one of her famous, prized China dolls, and it broke. I tried to tell a white lie to get out of it, and it just broke her heart. She was even kind of crying. I finally had to tell the truth — that I was going outside to look at a motorcycle, and I just kind of threw the doll down, and it broke. She said, you know, if you just tell the truth the first time, then you don’t have to remember things.

Who is someone from history you’d want to invite to a dinner party if you could, and why?

It would probably be either Hippocrates or Winston Churchill. Churchill was a practical man who said what he thought, and I just think it would be fun to have a man like that come to your home for dinner, lunch or whatever.

What is the first question you’d ask that guest from history?

I guess I would ask Churchill how do we learn? How do we keep from repeating the same thing over and over, like war?  We just don’t learn. We repeat them over and over, and it does nothing but harm others, including our loved ones. I just think he might have the answer if he could wake up and tell us.

What is the one song you would be sure to play to set the mood at the dinner party?

I have played for a thousand dinner parties, and I played for the last five presidents of the university. I’d play the song “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller. Everybody loves to dance to it. And then “As Time Goes By” from the movie Casablanca.

What is the question that you like to be asked the most?

When I was a legislator, I used to speak to kids as they came to the Capitol, and they would always ask what it was like to be a senator. I thought how neat it is that kids would want to know something like that. Kids are so interested in that, and I loved to explain why I was one. And when I would play the piano, I would like it when adults stopped and asked how long I’d been playing. Everyone would say how their mom tried to get them to play the piano. Most people wished that they would have studied the piano or kept practicing the piano.

Why do you plan to leave a gift to the University of Nebraska in your estate?

It’s not a right to receive money, and it’s not a right to be a beneficiary. You’ve got to pick and choose, and you’ve got to listen to people and understand where the money might be needed. We all have different priorities.

I like music, and one day I thought, why not give a scholarship to kids to motivate them to come to UNK. So, I talked to J. B. Milliken and Chancellor Kristensen, and it helped me to make a choice to set up a scholarship at UNK in music. Later, they built the nursing addition at UNK. My mother worked as an aide at the hospital in Kearney 70 years ago, and she loved being a nurse. I thought it would be nice to give scholarships to students who want to be nurses, too, so I made a provision in my will to fund nursing. I’ve been fortunate all my life. There’s a quote by somebody, “give as you have been blessed,” and I’ve just been blessed my whole life.

Group’s total contribution now exceeds $215,000 since 2014

The Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration (FAAC) has donated a $60,000 pilot grant to go toward Alzheimer’s disease research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The donation marks the sixth grant the FAAC has donated to UNMC since 2014 and brings the group’s total contribution to more than $215,000.

Marv Welstead, a 98-year-old Fremont man who lost his wife, Jean, in 2009 after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s, is honorary chairperson of the FAAC. On Feb. 21, the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce inducted Welstead into its Hall of Fame on his 98th birthday.

“Marv has been the driving force behind the FAAC’s success,” said Dan Murman, M.D., professor and vice chair of clinical and translational research in the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences. “He’s been tremendously supportive. His commitment to the battle against Alzheimer’s disease is truly inspirational.”

The latest FAAC grant will support UNMC’s Alzheimer’s research in two areas – developing screening biomarkers and exploring novel treatment approaches.

Dr. Murman said the screening biomarkers include cerebrovascular measures, retinal measures, and blood and saliva samples. Each of these screening biomarkers is noninvasive and relatively inexpensive, he said. These novel biomarkers would be compared to more traditional biomarkers such as using an MRI scan to measure brain neurodegeneration or a PET scan to determine the amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain.

The grant will provide additional support for several clinical trials at UNMC, Dr. Murman said, including a study of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (r-TMS) as a treatment to improve memory in subjects with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the FAAC funding will allow UNMC to recruit subjects for several new clinical trials of promising new medications.

“We can’t thank the FAAC enough for its support,” Dr. Murman said. “The ongoing contributions from the FAAC allow us the flexibility to try new things and seek new advances. We are honored to use their funding to look for answers to this incredibly difficult disease.”

A progressive, degenerative disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among people 65 years and older. It currently affects more than 35,000 Nebraskans and more than 5 million persons nationwide.

The money raised by the FAAC is donated to the University of Nebraska Foundation, which then distributes it to UNMC as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It is raised through a variety of channels, including a walk, a golf tournament, a bowling tournament, online gifts and memorials, Welstead said. The FAAC is a component fund of the Fremont Area Community Foundation.

“We’ve received tremendous support from the various groups in Fremont,” Welstead said. “It’s unbelievable. We’ve been getting some very generous memorials from families who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s.”

Welstead acknowledged Dan Kauble, a retired executive from Hormel who has been assisting him in raising money for Alzheimer’s disease. He also saluted Riley Faulkner, president of the FAAC, and Cathi Sampson, vice president of the FAAC.

“We love to raise money locally and then keep the money in Nebraska by giving it to UNMC and UNL,” Welstead said. “We know the University of Nebraska is doing some outstanding research with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Welstead noted that the FAAC will generate more funding through a charity golf tournament on June 23 at Fremont Country Club and a pancake feed sometime in September.

Research support

Funding from the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration (FAAC) has assisted numerous investigators in their research. They include:

UNMC:

Daniel Murman, M.D., neurological sciences

Sachin Kedar, M.B.B.S., neurological sciences

David Warren, Ph.D., neurological sciences

Tony Wilson, Ph.D., director of the Magnetoencephalography Laboratory at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine;

Alex Wiesman, Ph.D. candidate who works with Dr. Wilson

UNL:

Greg Bashford, Ph.D., biological systems engineering

Mohammed Alwatban, Ph.D. candidate who works with Dr. Bashford

Omaha Gives, the seventh annual 24-hour charitable challenge in Omaha, is set for May 22, 2019. The giving begins at midnight, and hourly drawings and prizes make your donations go further.

Causes at the university’s two campuses in Omaha stand to benefit from your support during this event.

Maverick Food Pantry at the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Those interested in supporting the University of Nebraska at Omaha during Omaha Gives may contribute to help the UNO Maverick Food Pantry at omahagives.org.

Today, more than 200 U.S. colleges operate food pantries, as food insecurity is becoming more evident on campuses nationwide. UNO is no exception.

Since UNO opened the Maverick Food Pantry in 2013, it has distributed nearly 10,000 pounds of food to currently enrolled UNO students and members of the UNO community who are in need. This critical assistance includes nutritionally balanced food packages containing approximately two days’ worth of non-perishable food items.

Every gift through Omaha Gives increases the chances that UNO will also receive matching dollars made available by the event’s sponsors and benefactors.

You may make your gift on May 22 or schedule your gift now.

You may also find a list of other UNO organizations participating in Omaha Gives here.

SHARING Clinics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center

Those inspired to benefit the University of Nebraska Medical Center during Omaha Gives are encouraged to make a gift to help the UNMC SHARING Clinics.

SHARING Clinics is a longtime community health care services program operated by students. The faculty and students involved are volunteers at four clinics dedicated to primary health care, STI testing, primary care for Type 2 diabetes and vision care.

For every $1 donated, $8 in medical services is provided and enables UNMC to provide high-quality, low-cost health care and human services.

Gifts to the UNMC SHARING Clinics during Omaha Gives also help UNMC take advantage of available matching support made possible by the event’s sponsors and benefactors.

You may make your gift on May 22 or schedule your gift now.

About Omaha Gives

Omaha Gives is a year-round online giving platform organized by the Omaha Community Foundation to grow philanthropy in Douglas, Sarpy, and Pottawattamie counties. Each year, there is a 24-hour online giving event in May to celebrate nonprofits.

This year’s giving day will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The goal is to inspire the community to come together for 24-hours to give as much as possible to support the work of public 501(c)(3) nonprofits in the metro area.

The minimum donation is $10 and there is no maximum. Prizes, Challenge Funds, and Incentive Funds amplify charitable donations to make each dollar go further.

Food and shelter insecurities are an unfortunate reality for students at Nebraska and nationwide.

Those inspired to support the University of Nebraska–Lincoln during the communitywide Give to Lincoln Day on May 30 are encouraged to contribute to the the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+.

One in three students at Nebraska worries about not having enough food to eat. Gifts will benefit the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+ and support its work in providing free food and hygiene supplies to students in need throughout the year.

Huskers Pantry has helped more than 800 students since it opened in 2017 with more than 5,500 people visiting the pantry. During the last semester alone, an average of more than 92 students visited Huskers Pantry each week.

Gifts can be made on May 30 or any time before then.

Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry+ is partnering with the University of Nebraska Foundation to promote the support on May 30 for university community members who are in need.

Give to Lincoln Day is an annual 24-hour event that encourages people to contribute to Lincoln and Lancaster County nonprofit organizations on May 30, 2019. Give to Lincoln Day at givetolincoln.com is coordinated by the Lincoln Community Foundation in partnership with local nonprofit organizations.

Every donation makes a bigger impact on Give to Lincoln Day, because nonprofits also get a proportional share of a $450,000 match fund made possible by LCF and generous sponsors.