- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

INMAN, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Sampler Foundation plans to support projects aimed at helping rural communities with a new website similar to the popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

A pilot website, called Kanstarter, is scheduled to be operational later this month, the Hutchinson News reported (https://bit.ly/1A5dh9P ).

“This is like a dream come true to help these rural communities,” foundation director Marci Penner said. “We wanted to do the site in a way that inspires people to help sustain rural life and Kansas communities.”

Penner said $200,000 in community-service tax credits from the Kansas Department of Commerce will be used to build the site. Initially, only communities with 2,000 or fewer residents will be able to post projects but that will change in the future, she said.

Earlier this summer, the Kansas Sampler Foundation and its partner organization, the WeKan Network, sought proposals for the pilot program. Penner and a selection committee narrowed the list to four projects: updating the Burdett Mini Golf Course; purchasing land in Plains to build a grocery store; constructing an amphitheater to replace the Wilson Opera House; and constructing a recreation trail in Yates Center.

Projects chosen for the website will have to be good for the community and supported by several generations. The projects cannot cover salaries or promote religious or political views, Penner said.

“Small towns, I think, get exhausted after a while,” said Katie Hammeke of Burdett. “After a while you just can’t fund everything. Being able to look beyond our community to help with this project will be really nice.”

Penner said the pilot program’s first phase will likely run for about 60 days, ending around December. After working out kinks, the site will likely be open for anyone to post a project that meets the criteria.

Six percent of the donations will go to the foundation, 3 percent to credit-card companies that make the transactions and the remainder will be used for the projects.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com


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