By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – After concluding the 2018 spring grant cycle in May, Spanish Peaks Community Foundation is preparing for another round of fundraising efforts.

On July 4, Spanish Peaks will host the Fourth of July Firecracker Scramble golf tournament, with the goal of raising at least $50,000, according to John Haas, foundation president and founder.

“I’m excited that we sold this event out and we’re grateful for all of our donors,” Haas said about the inaugural 18-hole tournament. While all of the foundation’s money is raised from Spanish Peaks members, he said they’re supported by area businesses and entities such as Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. and Big Sky PBR with event prizes. “Even though we’re funded from the inside, we get lots of donations from community members.”

This fundraiser is one of three hosted by the foundation each year, the others of which include an end-of-the-year Holiday Après Ski party in December and a February Spanish Peaks Auction.

The proceeds from these events are allotted each spring and fall exclusively to Big Sky-specific organizations. This spring, the foundation awarded approximately $75,000 to causes that include the Arts Council of Big Sky, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Big Sky Broadway, Big Sky Community Organization, the fire department, and Gallatin River Task Force, among many others.

Haas said that he enjoys being able to help Big Sky.

“The most rewarding part of the job is giving out the checks,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience. It’s 100-percent giving back to the world.

“It’s not the end-all, but we’re trying to make a big effort,” he added.

Haas started the foundation in 2011, at a time when the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club was experiencing financial hardship and many employees were laid off. After witnessing a former employee go broke at the checkout line in the Hungry Moose Market and Deli, Haas said he felt compelled to do something to help Big Sky.

“I spent the weekend thinking about what I could do and that’s how the whole thing started,” he said, adding that in the inaugural year, the foundation raised $100,000 which was distributed to employees who lost their job.

From that initiative the grant cycle was born and the following year Spanish Peaks awarded approximately $15,000 to local organizations. “It just kept going and going,” Haas said, adding that the following year the foundation gave about $30,000.

Now, the Spanish Peaks foundation distributes approximately $200,000 in grant awards every year.

The Spanish Peaks Community Foundation will begin another grant cycle this fall, with applications due on Oct. 1. To learn more, visit spanishpeaksfoundation.org.

This is part two in a three-part series on Big Sky’s private club foundations. Read about the Moonlight Community Foundation in the July 20 edition of EBS. To view the first installment featuring the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, visit explorebigsky.com/yellowstone-club-community-foundation-continues-to-grow-with-big-sky/25606.