James Russell: What a small foundation can do

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This is the story of a small 501(c) foundation called The John and Grace Nauman Foundation that was established on July 9, 1998, in Carson City. First of all, it is important to know who Loretta Grace Nauman and John Nauman were.
Grace Nauman was born on July 27, 1911 in Wray, Colorado. She was educated at the Colorado State Teacher College, which became Colorado State College and then the University of Northern Colorado in 1970. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree and stayed on to do graduate work in education. She became an elementary school teacher first in Dresslerville and then in Carson City at Fremont Elementary School and Gleason Elementary. She ended her career as principal of Corbett Elementary School. Grace died on June 30, 2006.
John Nauman was born June 7, 1904, in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota. John obtained a political science degree from the University of Northern Colorado and worked as a high school teacher. He later returned to the University of Northern Colorado for graduate studies in engineering. John moved to Nevada to work for the Nevada Department of Transportation and became a program engineer with NDOT. John died on April 19, 1991, having resided with Grace in Carson City for 49 years.
Grace at the age of 87 decided that she needed to do something with her estate and at the suggestions of her financial adviser, Tom Seeliger, met with her attorney Todd Russell. Tom’s father Al Seeliger, superintendent of schools in Carson City, had been a friend of John’s. John liked to invest in stocks and used Tom as his stockbroker. Todd Russell had grown up down the street from the Nauman’s house.
By and through the efforts of Tom Seeliger and Todd Russell, Grace decided to set up a 501(c) foundation. John had been an investor all of his life and, as such, the foundation was funded with $1 million to start.
Because John and Grace were both interested in education, the foundation was started to provide scholarships to Carson City High School students to attend Northern Colorado University, the University of Nevada, Reno, and Western Nevada College. Additionally, funds could be provided for the benefit of: The First Presbyterian Church (where John and Grace had been members), the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada, the Children’s Museum, the Nevada State Museum, the Carson City Public Library, the Brewery Arts Center, and Cottey Junior College for P.E.O. (Grace was a member of P.E.O).
The initial trustees were Grace Nauman, Violet Burly, (a good friend of Grace), Howard Anderson (an engineer and good friend of Grace) and Todd Russell. Today the trustees are John McKenna (a CPA in Carson City), Joan Gardner (who grew up next door to Grace and John) and Todd Russell. The trustees have always volunteered their time to the foundation.
On Grace’s death in 2006, the remaining balance of her estate, after certain gifts to friends, was received by the Foundation in the approximate additional amount of $1.5 million.
Since its incorporation, the foundation has paid out approximately $1.2 million for scholarships to the University of Nevada, Reno, with a preference given to students seeking an education degree or an engineering degree, and to Western Nevada College. The foundation has selected each year four to five graduates of Carson High School to receive four-year scholarships in the amount of $4,000 a year. The applicants are interviewed by the trustees. The students must maintain a 3.0 grade point and take a minimum of 12 credits a semester to keep the scholarship.
The foundation has additionally paid out over $500,000 in donations to the entities allowed. To date, the foundation has maintained its funded base of approximately $3 million.
The important aspect of this story is how two people who had no children affected the lives of so many children in the Carson City area by the way of scholarships, the Museums, the Carson City Library, and the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Nevada. They should be honored for their generosity and foresight.


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