Parents want the best for their children. Dean and Betty White want their children and grandchildren to live in a community whose reputation for pulling together endures.
"Dean and I are really passionate about Chippewa Falls. Things happen here," observes Betty. "The community doesn't have trouble raising money when there's a need. It truly is a magical place. We recognize that and want to keep it going."
After two decades of raising their son and two daughters, devoting time to local nonprofit
organizations that provided high-quality experiences for their children, and after
contributing to programs meeting current needs within the community, Dean and Betty began to
think about long-term philanthropy.
Their attorney encouraged them to meet with the Community Foundation of Chippewa County about the possibilities of local giving. Impressed with the Foundation's work, Dean began serving on the Board of Directors, and in the fall of 2015 they established the Betty and Dean White Family Endowment Fund, which will provide grants to community organizations for current needs.
After Dean attended a Board of Directors Strategic Planning Retreat session, focusing on ways to advance the work of the Foundation, he realized that, "unrestricted funds are the most valuable. A lot of times money is not available to meet current needs." As a result of that session, Dean and Betty chose to establish an Unrestricted Fund. This type of fund takes advantage of the extensive knowledge that members of the Foundation's Grants Committee and Board of Directors have in identifying community priorities. "The people on the Foundation's committee and Board are very qualified to do what they do," Betty said. "We have total trust in them."
Unrestricted funds enable the Foundation to respond to the region's changing needs by supporting new community initiatives. Many local nonprofit organizations that enhance the area's quality of life depend on the funds. "Our vision is that the fund will be used for the most current urgent needs for years to come," Dean said.
Having lived mostly in the area, Dean and Betty value how people in the Chippewa Falls area bond together for the good of the community. "A lot of what we enjoy here is funded through individual philanthropy," Dean said, calling to mind donors' tremendous support when a second addition onto the Chippewa Ice Arena was built. He was Chippewa Youth Hockey Association president then. "The ability to do that in a community this size is second to none."
Even when fundraisers for city projects and other capital campaigns happen close together, the community comes through. "Chippewa Falls is a small town that knows it's a small town but does big-town things."
Dean was born in Germany where his dad served in the U.S. Armed Forces. His family moved to the Lafayette area when he was three. Betty grew up in Chippewa County. They became friends while in high school. Both attended UW-Stout, were married in June 1983, and have lived in Lafayette ever
since. One adult daughter, an adult son, and preschool-age grandchildren live on what they light-heartedly dub "the White Compound" -land adjacent to their house. Their other adult daughter is engaged and moving to New Richmond soon.
They feel that their decision to name the fund after the entire family rather than just the two of them plants a seed for their children, grandchildren, and future generations, who they hope will be inspired to contribute to the fund when weighing their own philanthropic options.
Dean is executive vice president of manufacturing for Spectrum Industries, Inc. in Chippewa Falls. Before owning White's Wildwood Retreat, which opened in 2005, Betty was program director of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin in the Northwest District for ten years. While serving on numerous boards of various organizations, they've noticed a common thread: each works to make the community a better, safer, more enjoyable place to live. They know that the area's numerous philanthropists, several of whom are their friends, clearly recognize and believe in that common thread too.
"We're surrounded by role models who make us better people and inspire us," Betty said.
The Betty and Dean White Family Endowment Fund is a vehicle for giving in perpetuity. "We just want to make the community a great place for our grandkids to live," Dean said.
For grant making at the discretion of the Foundations Board of Directors.