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Sonora Area Foundation Announces $50,000 Innovation Competition

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Sonora, CA – After nearly three decades and $32 million in giving, a local philanthropy group as a way of commemorating its 30th anniversary is issuing a challenge to local nonprofits.

Continuing to build on its promise to focus its efforts “For Good – For Ever,” the Sonora Area Foundation announced on Thursday its plans for an “innovation competition” with $50,000 in prize money to be shared by one or more winning Tuolumne County nonprofits.

Executive Director Darrell Slocum shares, “We think it is really important for our area nonprofits to find time to challenge themselves with [contemplating] what types of programs or expansions of existing programs that could be out there on the horizon and we realize that it is difficult to carve out time to do that.”

So, he says, “We came up with the idea of the competition in order to motivate and hopefully inspire our local nonprofit organizations to find that time, and perhaps the prize money would be an even further incentive.”

The core of the challenge, he emphasizes, is for nonprofits to consider and answer the question: What would you do if you could do anything?

He muses that the competition — albeit, on a much smaller scale — might somewhat compare to the resiliency competition process that Tuolumne County and the State of California went through a few years back to consider what solutions might be developed to address current needs. Among those considered for that endeavor were those that built on existing resources, while some were templated off ideas from other places, and others were created through collaborative efforts.

Innovation Competition Microgrants Available

In addition to $50,000 in prize funding, SAF is also offering nonprofits in need of strategic planning assistance the opportunity to apply for microgrant, which could be used to help pay for a facilitator, innovative planning retreat or whatever might be needed to help generate a project or program proposal.

Although application details and deadlines will not be finalized until early next month and SAF will be directly providing area nonprofits with contest guidelines, participating entities are being asked to submit a one-page email letter informing SAF of their intention to submit a project proposal.

SAF created back in 1990 through the caring and means of Irving J Symons and his sister Elaine Symons Baker, two local residents highly involved in their community, was the means by which they could help improve quality of life and provide a way for others to do the same. Over the years, their legacy endures and has attracted hundreds of additional donors to also invest in the area’s future, further providing the nonprofit the ability to make substantial funding and scholarship grants.

Besides awarding competitive grant monies to qualified nonprofit and public agencies and making discretionary monetary gifts through its grace fund, SAF assists donors in their efforts to contribute, not only to existing funds but also in establishing new ones specifically geared to help them accomplish their own charitable goals and interests.

As part of its mission to help strengthen local communities, the foundation also takes on the role of a neutral leader with a reputation for bringing all sides together to discuss and help find solutions to important issues both broad and specific.

To learn more about SAF efforts and opportunities, click here.

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