Simplified: The new Sioux Falls Parks Foundation aims to be proactive in finding ways to strategically link big donors to park investments.

Why it matters

  • Public-private partnerships aren't new to the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation department. The Kirby Dog Park and planned Jacobson Family Plaza are two recent examples.
  • The new foundation – announced Tuesday to Sioux Falls City Council – formalizes the work of seeking out and managing these significant donations in the future.
  • A 10-person advisory board will oversee the foundation, led by Jennifer Kirby, and the foundation is an affiliate of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation – meaning it's not a standalone nonprofit, but it is a private group separate from the city.
"We felt like we’ve been very successful in the organic process of donors coming forward and finding a project that they’re interested in funding," Parks Director Don Kearney said. "To have somebody proactively pursuing those, we think we could be a whole lot more successful in developing those public private partnerships."

What are people saying?

"Our Sioux Falls park system ... it's really the crown jewel of the City of Sioux Falls, and it has something to offer to absolutely everybody in our community," Councilor Rick Kiley said Tuesday.

In a statement announcing the partnership, Mayor Paul TenHaken also voiced support for the foundation, adding that it will "continue the tradition of public-private partnership success."

"I think this is a great opportunity for people to give back ... and to be able to really move the needle," Councilor Christine Erickson said.

It's also important to note – as Councilor Janet Brekke pointed out in Tuesday's meeting – that the fundraising asks are coming from the private foundation and not from the city our council members.

  • Board member Don Kearney will be on the board in an ex officio capacity, not as an active fundraiser, due to his job as parks director.

Who's on the board?

The board includes chair Jennifer Kirby and the following:

  • Scott Christensen
  • Charles Gullickson
  • Alex Hagen
  • Jason Harrboldt
  • Don Kearney
  • Kim Patrick
  • Steve Sanford
  • Rochelle Sweetman, and
  • Bill Townsend.

What happens next?

The advisory board will begin talking with potential donors, Kirby said.

  • They're specifically looking to pair donors with either transformational park projects or to find donors willing to include the new parks foundation in their estate planning.
"We just want to continue the tradition and the legacy of private individuals making a difference in our community," Kirby said.