Foundation distributes grants

Leslie Silverman
The Hill City Area Community Foundation (HCACF) handed out numerous grants at an awards ceremony party Feb. 24.
The awards went for mostly one time projects to organizations that directly impact the Hill City area. 
Despite being an ongoing event the  Black Hills Film Festival received $1,000 to bring back seminars and workshops to Hill City.
HCACF advisory council president Melissa Rupert said the festival will not receive money year after year from the foundation but that this funding was specifically to bring the festival back to Hill City in a major way. 
Chris VanNess, executive director of the Black Hills Film Festival, said the festival used to host seminars and workshops in Hill City but that COVID-19 changed that. This grant money will specifically go to “bring back live events after two years of being hunkered down,” said VanNess when accepting the award. The Black Hills Film Festival will take place during Buffalo Round Up weekend (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) and the festival is working in conjunction with Custer State Park on a buffalo stew feed.
“It’ll be a great time,” VanNess said.
The Hill City Evergreen Garden Club received $1,000 toward its wreath project. The wreath project occurs each year during the holidays. However once again Rupert explained that this is a one-time funding opportunity.
Garden club president Gail McKane said the money will help keep the wreaths affordable for Hill City residents while still allowing the Club to give out scholarships to students. The wreaths are continually some of the finest quality and most affordable in the Black Hills.
The HCACF also supported the Hill City Senior Center by providing them with a $2,532 grant for a flagpole. As Merle Glenn explained this will be an opportunity for the center to show its patriotism on a daily basis as well as on major holidays such as the July 4, Memorial Day  and Veterans Day. The new pole will be located on the side of the Hill City Center building.
The Hill City Friends of the Library (FOL) received a small $450 grant for new signage for the book sales that it conducts twice a year. The sales take place in June to coincide with the Fine Arts in the Hills Show and sale and in the fall to coincide with the quilt show. The sales are a signature event for the FOL and allows people to stock up on bags of books ranging in genres.
St. Rose of Lima Church received a $2,750 grant for some updating of kitchen equipment bathrooms and security cameras. The Church is the meeting location for Love INC Heart of the Hills which provides various services and classes to Hill City area individuals. Rupert calls the church a “big deal” for Hill City.
St. Rose of Lima also holds English classes for Spanish speaking people and is a safe zone building for the community. 
The Hill City School District Art Department received a $2,580 award, which according to art teacher Jessica Kautz will impact each and every art student.
“They don’t have basketball games or a chance for the community to support them,” Kautz said. “They have no place to showcase what they do.”
This grant however, will change that, by providing a gallery space specifically for art. 
Kautz joked the custodial staff was “sick of her gluing things to walls.”
Kautz has been expanding the art program and acquiring valuable equipment, like a printing press and light tables though the Donor’s Choice program. She has visions of a Rangers Rock elementary program where painted rocks can travel to tourist destinations via tourists who have come to Hill City. Students can then track where their rocks go, similar to the Flat Stanley program popular in the early 2000s.
“I love that this community supports the arts,”  Kautz said, adding she is grateful for the award for the new displays.
Rupert is pleased with the amount of support and the number of people who continue to support the HCACF. She said award decisions were difficult this year and that the advisory council made its decisions based on how it could have the greatest impact on the most people in the Hill City area. 
The HCACF is always taking donations to support its mission. More Information can be found at

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