About Us

The Mariah Fund is a 501(c)3 Private Foundation, formed to provide capital funding to non-profit organizations in Dodge City, Kansas and other communities of Western Kansas, for the exclusive purpose of enhancing regional tourism through both targeted and collaborative efforts.

Typical applications for grant funding will be solicited from organizations that are actively involved in projects that need capital or matching funds for attraction development projects.  For example, a museum may request funding to build additional facilities that will display and preserve their collection of horse-drawn carriages of the 1880’s.  Mariah’s funding may be available to meet a matching requirement to another larger grant opportunity.

Other funding applications may be for regional projects that will affect several organizations and communities.  As an example: Wild West Country, the Southwest Kansas Tourism Region which includes members from 22 counties who work as a team to promote travel within the area. Members are as diverse as the communities represented. They may apply collectively to Mariah to fund development of regional tour routes, highlighting a portion or all of their members.  Such a project may include brochures, advertising, billboards, and illustrate day-trips that encourage local and regional visitations, including Dodge City.

Our Mission

We believe our culture and heritage is worth fighting for and sharing with others.

We work with non-profit groups across southwest Kansas to help spread the word of everything our region has to offer because increased tourism benefits everyone.

In some cases, tourism development may be a function of rehabilitation of a historical building or feature or leveraging a downtown ‘Main Street’ project where it will encourage private and public partnerships.  The Mariah Fund may place a portion of their emphasis on funding grants that ‘make the communities or attractions look better’ and preserve areas of historical significance.

Also, there may be opportunities to fund projects that are not necessarily a tourist destination, but still play a complementary and supporting role in the overall delivery of services and experiences to area visitors, including the market development of the region as an experiential and historical asset to visitors.

At the root of this long-term coalition for regional tourism development is the funding Mariah receives from Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City.  While Boot Hill Casino & Resort does not participate in the administration or management of The Mariah Fund, it’s clear that grants made should in some way connect with Dodge City and enhance the opportunity for regional tourists to visit the area.  That measured success ensures continued, and potentially larger, funding opportunities by Mariah.

All of these examples center on a common theme of adding capital value to organizations that are directly or indirectly involved in the tourism industry, making them more successful in meeting their individual and collective missions.  By extension, that will lead to the development of the entire region and encourage multiple partnerships.  Applications were first available in Spring 2011.  Through 2018, Mariah Fund has approved 130 grants for $2,043 Million to 99 separate organizations in Western Kansas – funding projects with a combined total cost of over $17.674 Million.  The Kansas Department of Commerce previously reported in March 2015, to Kansas Lottery, that the overall estimated economic benefit to Kansas, of Mariah Fund grants through year-end 2014, was $33,560,555.  As of the end of 2018, using the same factors, Mariah Fund’s approximate total economic benefit to the State of Kansas is now estimated to be $164.99 Million since its inception in 2010.  Mariah Fund is one of the largest funding organizations in the State of Kansas for regional tourism, cultural and heritage projects.

Jeff Thorpe

President & CEO

Thorpe retired in 2010 after a career spanning over 42 years as a trust-investment banker, the last 19 years leading the wealth management division of Fidelity State Bank in Dodge City, KS. Jeff was a founding board member of the Wyoming Community Foundation and has served on the board, and current Chair, of the Community Foundation of SW Kansas since 1992. He has extensive experience with both public and private foundations, serving on many non-profit boards of directors including 18 years with Boot Hill Museum, Inc. In 2007 he was named Volunteer of the year in Kansas by the Kansas Economic Development Association. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas and as an appointee to the Tourism Task Force of Dodge City, KS.

Dick Fankhauser

Chairman

Dick was born in Eureka, Kansas, and moved with his family to Garden City in 1948, from Ness City, Kansas. He graduated from Garden City High School. Attended Garden City Community College and Kansas State University. Dick worked at Fankhauser, Inc., dba Cash & Carry Lumber, Masonry Products and Concrete Industries from 1956 until the business sold in 1996. He served as President of Fankhauser, Inc. from 1983 to 1996. He is currently in Commercial Real Estate and Post Office rentals in Garden City with his brother. Dick has been active in various Garden City and Finney County, Kansas organizations; serving on the Airport Board, as a Garden City Commissioner, Chamber of Commerce, and the Finney County Economic Development Corp for many years. He also has served as a Bank Director for a local financial institution.

Mia Korbelik

Secretary

Korbelik recently retired as Executive Director of the Crisis Center of Dodge City. In addition, she has served on the Board of Trustees of Sterling College and appointed by the Kansas Attorney General to the Board of Trustees of Sunflower Foundation, a $75 Million state-wide foundation whose mission is to enhance the health of all Kansan’s. She currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Sunflower Foundation and as Secretary of the Mariah Fund.

Joe Peters

Director

Peters is General Manager of Magouirk Chevrolet in Dodge City, KS, and President of AutoSure, Inc. Joe has long been involved in Dodge City activities, most recently serving as Chairman of the Board of Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jenna Shook

Director

Scott Bogner

Director

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Tom Taylor

Director

Dee Thorpe

Grant Administrator