Our History

Building with 1887 sign

We saw that it needed to be done, so some of us just started meeting.

Delores Dalke (Founding HCF Board member)

It’s the community’s foundation, so the foundation can be used to channel funds for any project that people feel is important and that fits under our criteria.

Mike Kleiber (Founding HCF Board Member and First Board Chair)

In the early 2000s, a series of informal conversations among a small group of civic and business leaders led to a plan to establish a charitable community foundation in Hillsboro.

Building upon the pioneering vision that had shaped the Hillsboro community, they saw the foundation as a way for private donations to invest in the betterment of the community. A community foundation would provide “a vehicle to give back to the community” and a “tax-free method of funding community projects.”

These discussions led to the creation of the Hillsboro Community Foundation on April 12, 2004. To provide direction and oversight, an initial five-person board of directors was installed, comprised of those leaders involved in the planning.

The first public presentation to launch the foundation was held May 4, 2004 at the Hillsboro High School. From that meeting, nineteen households contributed startup seed money of $2,250 which was used to fund brochures and promotional materials.

Key Milestones and Events in HCF’s History

As I work with other small communities across central Kansas, I often use the Hillsboro Community Foundation as a great example of what a small community and a dedicated group of volunteers ‘with a little persistence and patience’ can accomplish.

Dennis Lefevre (Former Director, Central Kansas Community Foundation)
April 2004

HCF is established and formally authorized to operate as a community foundation.


Summer 2005

HCF delivers its first gift to the community by raising more than $10,000 toward the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the Hillsboro Fire Department. The camera is later credited with helping save the local hospital from a near disastrous fire on New Year’s Day, 2006.

November 2006

The HCF Board kicks off a $250,000 fundraising campaign to establish the Hillsboro Impact Fund, an endowment fund of “unrestricted” capital from which the investment earnings will be used to source an annual grantmaking process.

December 2007

Pledges and contributions to the Hillsboro Impact Fund reach $265,000 with more than 100 donor households and businesses pledging funds toward the campaign.

January 2008

HCF receives its first managed designated endowment from the Lehigh Senior Center to establish the Lehigh City Parks Fund for maintenance and beautification of the local park.

February 2008

The first annual grants from the Hillsboro Impact Fund totaling $6,000 are awarded among six successful applicants.

April 2010

HCF receives a bequest of $388,000 from the Marga Ebel Estate to establish an endowment for the support of children’s health in the community. It is the first such legacy gift received by the foundation.

November 2010

HCF announces it has qualified for a matching-fund grant of $363,000 from the Kansas Health Foundation’s GROW II program. With total assets nearing the $1 million mark, HCF also announces the hiring of its first part-time director.

December 2011

The USD 410 School District transfers the John A. and Harriet Kizler Wiebe $200,000 Scholarship Fund to HCF for the purpose of managing the fund’s investment returns and increasing annual scholarship awards to deserving students.

October 2012

The Marga Ebel Children’s Dental Program is created to provide financial assistance to parents who might not otherwise be able to afford dental care for their children.  It is the first program of its kind in the state of Kansas.

June 2013

HCF partners with the Hillsboro Development Corporation and Tabor College in the purchase and remodel the bowling alley on Main Street. Donors contribute $130,000 through HCF to the project.

October 2014

The parent-led effort to renovate the Hillsboro Elementary School playground receives a $25,750 grant from HCF endowment funds. The grant provides an early boost to the goal of obtaining a matching grant from the State of Kansas.

February 2017

Endowment assets exceed $2 million following the ’10 and 2: Driving Into the Future’ fundraising campaign begun in 2014 as part of HCF’s 10th anniversary.

January 2018

Total community impact through grants and distributions surpasses the $500,000 mark, with over $350,000 coming from the earnings of long-term endowment funds.

September 2020

The community rallies together to establish the Demarius Lives Scholarship Fund at HCF in honor and memory of Demarius Cox. Over $33,000 is donated in connection with a 2K Color Fun Run/Walk that draws more than 300 participants.

September 2022

Total community impact through grants and distributions reaches $1 million, driven by the recent completion of several community projects funded in part though HCF.

April 2023

Donors contribute more than $470,000 through HCF for the Hillsboro Community Childcare Center development project.  The donations assist in the effort of obtaining multiple matching grants totaling $1.2 million.