A new non-profit organization has been started under the umbrella of the Kansas Sampler Foundation with the specific purpose of serving as a crowd-funding and volunteer-sourcing platform for Kansas community projects.
The organization, called We Kan Network, has already evaluated 24 community projects that were submitted to be pilot projects for the initial phase of the platform, Kanstarter.
Projects in the towns of Burdett, Plains, Wilson and Yates Center were chosen for the initial effort. Their projects will go live on this crowd-funding site sometime in early October. After the projects are funding the process will be opened up to more towns with projects that fit the criteria.
These four towns will help Kanstarter tweak the process and the system to make it as efficient and successful for all. The first meeting will be August 29.
After each step Kanstarter will share information to help other communities start working on the submission process.
Projects include restoring a miniature golf course for free public use in Burdett, buying land for the nonprofit grocery store in Plains, converting ruins from the old stone opera house in Wilson into an amphitheatre, and a recreation trail in Yates Center.
Board members of the new nonprofit are Luke Mahin of Courtland; Liz Sosa of Garden City and Andrea Springer of Hutchinson. Kansas Sampler Foundation co-founder Marci Penner is the director.
The Kansas Sampler Foundation was founded in 1993 by Mil and Marci Penner and immediately took on the annual Kansas Sampler Festival as a project.
The Sampler Festival started in 1990 as a book signing for their first Kansas guide book, the Kansas Weekend Guide. The Penners produced the book as a way to promote travel within Kansas. It was held on the Penner farm near Inman until 1997, when the decision to have it move around the state to better showcase rural communities. It moves to a new location every other year.
The 2014 festival was held in Wamego and saw record attendance. The 2015 festival will be May 2 and 3 in Wamego.