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KINGSBURG – The Kingsburg Neighborhood Grant Committee of the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation is seeking grant inquiries - or requests for funding - from local, non-profit/tax-exempt entities.

Administrative assistant Donna L. Rogers said the Foundation has been meeting since 2001 and still continues to review applications to make contributions for the benefit of the community.

Applicants who qualify will fill out a funding questionnaire as a second step. First, to follow state mandates for the Foundation, applicants that are non-profit, tax-exempt public institutions - schools, libraries, and religious and civic organizations - must provide a copy of their IRS Letter of Determination before any application process can proceed. The Foundation is not able to give to individuals.

Hillblom grew up on his family’s farm in Kingsburg, attended Reedley College and California State University, Fresno, before earning a law degree at the University of California, Berkeley. While working through school, he delivered packages for law firms in the San Francisco area and went on to co-found DHL. He and his business partners built the world’s largest global air courier, DHL Worldwide Express. Hillblom died in a plane crash in 1995 and since then, his will stated the primary directive for his estate was to fund high-quality medical research in California, Rogers said.

Stewardship of Hillblom’s philanthropic goals for medical research falls to a Board of Directors, which includes several family members, close business associates and friends. And from that larger group, the local Kingsburg Neighborhood Grant Committee.

“He also expressed a desire to help meet needs in the community where he grew up and thrived,” Rogers said of the Foundation’s local efforts. “A listing of the many local recipients of funding would demonstrate the KNGC’s faithfulness in honoring Larry’s wishes for benefitting his hometown. Grants and donations range from financial assistance to small, non-profit ventures, to large building and preservation projects of historic significance.” 

The Foundation fully funded the Larry L. Hillblom Tennis Complex at Kingsburg High School for multi-school, tournament-grade competition.

“The high school was delighted to accept this major addition to its athletic facilities; and the Foundation was pleased that it would benefit the whole community,” Rogers said. The Committee decided this would be the only project to be named in Hillblom’s honor.

The Foundation recognizes that high school graduation is a beginning, more than an ending, and thus offers scholarships each year in hopes of contributing to the continued success of Kingsburg’s graduating seniors. 

The annual $20,000 Larry L. Hillblom Memorial Scholarship is offered to applicants with GPAs in the top 15 percent of their graduating class.

“As a student body president, varsity athlete, high-achieving scholar and working member of a farming family, Larry Hillblom understood the tremendous effort represented by all graduates, whether college-bound or not,” Rogers said. 

More than 10 years ago, the Kingsburg Neighborhood Grant Committee began offering $7,500 Larry L. Hillblom Vocational Scholarships for students pursuing degrees in the medical field, mechanical training, forestry, cosmetology and other areas. Multiple scholarships are awarded to applicants with a financial need and a desire to commit to the next step of career preparation.

“The Foundation believes high-quality vocational training opens doors to better-paying jobs in the short term; and has the potential for launching long-term careers in the trades and businesses that are crucial to every community.”

Since many students have a connection to, or interest in, future employment in agriculture, the Hillblom Foundation recently added to its support for vocational education by giving gifts of $50,000 each to the local FFA and 4H Chapters to help promote a shared desire for helping to grow responsible, productive citizens.

“We want to strongly encourage high school students who are not planning to pursue a four-year degree, to start thinking now about the advantages of vocational training; and, to research some of the accredited programs/courses available in areas that may be of interest,” Rogers said. She encourages students to reach out to their high school’s Counseling and ASB Offices to find out more about applying for these scholarships.

For information on the Hillblom Foundation, there is the www.llhf.org website, however the grants arranged there are for medical research. Local grant inquiries need to come through the Kingsburg office.

To find out more, visit the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation’s Kingsburg Neighborhood Grant Committee office at 1458 Draper St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, or call 897-7050, fax 897-7590 or by email at dlr@llhf.org.  

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