By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – In the unincorporated resort town of Big Sky, organizational funding remains a hot commodity. Approximately $1.5 million more than the nearly $8 million available was requested in resort tax funding this spring alone, and the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation is seeing a sharp increase in requests as well.

This spring, the foundation received a record number of grant applications, with 62 organizations asking for more than $900,000.

That dollar amount is nearly double what the foundation has seen in past years, said Anna Shipley, the foundation’s communications coordinator. Originally planning to award $200,000, the foundation was able to come up with an extra $46,500, granting funds to 34 local groups in support of education, arts and culture, conservation and community service.

“It’s the first year we’ve exceeded $200,000,” Shipley said. “Your club or organization is only as strong as your community, and the two need to go hand in hand to be successful. … There’s a need for mental health services, affordable housing and smart growth.”

Shipley said one of the favorite aspects of her job is helping the foundation with the grant awards. “Seeing the impact it makes in our community, it’s totally amazing to see that,” she said.

Since its inception, the foundation has provided funding to support, among many others, conservation initiatives by the Gallatin River Task Force; the International Baccalaureate Diploma program at Lone Peak High School to support critical, innovative thinking; and mental health programs through Women in Action.

Each spring, the Yellowstone Club’s foundation also awards four education scholarships. This year, Bozeman High School seniors Avery Berg and Liam Diekmann and Belgrade High School senior Katelyn Hoppe received funds to put toward higher education this fall.

Lone Peak High School freshman Sara Wilson is the recipient of the Big Bald Dave Scholarship, and is traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia this summer to teach English, and help install filters in the drinking water systems in several remote villages.

The foundation emerged out of the Great Recession as a grassroots effort by members of the Yellowstone Club to provide economic support for the community. Officially established in 2010, the nonprofit has continued to support organizations in Big Sky, and throughout the Gallatin Valley.

The foundation accepts donations from Yellowstone Club members and the Big Sky community. Additional funds are raised during the invitation-only summer Weiskopf Cup golf tournament in September, the March Wine and Song members-only benefit, and the New Year’s Eve Name That Run members-only auction.

While the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation has established itself as a support network for Big Sky, Shipley said the foundation will continue to find its place in the community as Big Sky grows. She added that in the future, the Yellowstone Club Community, Moonlight Community and Spanish Peaks Community foundations might find ways to collaborate. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to work together to help the community.”

The Yellowstone Club Community Foundation will begin another grant cycle this fall, with applications due on Nov. 1. To learn more about the foundation, visit yellowstoneclubfoundation.org.

This is part one in a three-part series on Big Sky’s private club foundations. Read about the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation in the July 3 edition of EBS.