Funding a Better Wyoming: Where Statewide Grants Are Going



Wyoming is a state that doesn’t get a ton of attention in terms of philanthropy news. It has a state population that’s less than the city of Boston and Wyoming-based foundations are not exactly plentiful. Yet grantmaking here is on the rise, especially for causes related to animals and the environment.

A big name to know in Wyoming philanthropy is the Wyoming Community Foundation (WCF), which recently gave more than $3 million to groups across the state. Let’s take a look at where these grants are going and where WCF's priorities lie.

Big topics of interest among Wyoming donors lately have been wildlife, art, children, and seniors. On the recent list of grantees are Audubon of the Rockies, Joshua’s Storehouse, Natrona County Restorative Justice, Nicolaysen Art Museum, and Raising Readers in Wyoming. Natrona County has been driving WCF’s strategy lately, but some groups outside of the county have been receiving support too. These include Rainhorse of Big Horn County, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretative Center, Youth Clubs of Park County, and the YMCA in Sweetwater County. Of the latest $3 million commitment to statewide nonprofits, the community foundation’s local board, the Casper Community Foundation, distributed $210,750 to 18 nonprofits in the region.

“Each year we receive more and more requests for funding,” said Anita McLaughlin, program associate at the Wyoming Community Foundation. “Because of donor support, outstanding nonprofits are able to look to us for assistance. We are able to give to interesting, community-building projects and at times, even support organizations looking to grow.”

Today, WCF manages around 400 funds for its donors, which is pretty impressive considering the state’s population and average income per capita. Last year, the foundation awarded $6.3 million to Wyoming organizations, yet that was a slip down from total giving amount of $8 million in 2016. Overall, the most WCF grants have been going to Natrona County, followed by Albany County, Sheridan County, Freemont County, and Laramie County, where WCF is based.

As we’ve learned from following the WCF blog, the board and staff here have been increasingly interested in race and the growth of minority groups in the state, as well as hunger and after-school programs for kids. The funder accepts applications in the broad areas of arts and culture, health and human series, environment and conservation, and civic and community building. You can learn about available opportunities that are open to applications here.

Related: Philanthropy in Wyoming: Who's Giving and for What?