YES! Fund kicks off campaign

By Corene Brisendine

YES! Fund kicked off its annual fundraising campaign this week in an effort to support local youth programs.

YES!, which stands for Youth Empowerment for Success, gives children the opportunity to participate in after-school, summer-enhancement and other programs. The campaign runs roughly from Independence Day to Labor Day each year.

Last year the fund donated $180,000 to local youth organizations including UFM Community Learning Center, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, tutoring programs through Kansas State University, Parents as Teachers, and Pawnee Mental Health Services youth programs. The fund has brought in an average of about $180,000 each year for the past several years.

Edward Seaton, who recently retired as publisher for the Manhattan Mercury, started the fund following the 1993 flood as a way to help victims in Manhattan.

He said at that time, he acquired help from the McCormick Tribune, owner of the Chicago Tribune, which gave matching donations. After the flood, the Tribune offered to keep the charity running, and Seaton said the advisory board decided to switch its focus to youth programs in Manhattan. Then, in 2011, the Tribune pulled out of the charity, and the fund was brought in under the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation.

In addition to accepting private donations, YES! Fund has partnered with the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Caroline Peine Charitable Foundation and the advisers of the YES! Fund to match all donations received.

The fund also receives $10,000 a year from the Caroline Peine Foundation, The Manhattan Mercury, the Goldstein Community Fund, The Master Teacher, Kansas State Bank, Phil and Margaret Howe, Roger and Connie Sink, Briggs Auto Group, and Ed and Karen Seaton.

The Peine Foundation matches up to $65,000 in donations over a four-year period that began in 2011 and limits those donations to support of athletic programs. The Greater Manhattan Foundation has also limited funds to athletic programs above the $65,000 cap by the Peine Foundation. The advisory board did not stipulate any limitations on matching funds. Therefore, all donations are doubled in matching funds by one of the three organizations.

Seaton said over the last 20 years, the fund has donated $365,000 to flood victims in 1993, about $1 million to the Flint Hills Breadbasket Christmas Program, and another $4.4 million to the youth programs in Manhattan for a total of just under $6 million in charity.

Seaton said the organization primarily raises funds though advertising and direct mailing to previous donors.

Those who want to donate can go to This fund is directed to benefit young people in Manhattan only.

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