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 2019, Mariah Fund has approved 153 grants for $2,196 Million to 86 separate organizations in Western Kansas – funding projects with a combined total cost of over $17.097 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 2019, 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 and Legal Administrator, 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 chaired its Investment Committee. Jeff served on the board, and past 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 served 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. He was the organizer and Founder of Mariah Fund.

Mia Korbelik

Chair

Korbelik 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 has served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Sunflower Foundation and currently is a member of the Board of Trustee's of Dodge City Community College. She is Chair of the Mariah Fund Board of Directors.

Joe Peters

Director - Treasurer

Peters was General Manager of Magouirk Chevrolet in Dodge City, KS, and President/Owner 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. He serves as Treasurer of Mariah Fund.

Jenna Shook

Director

Scott Bogner

Director - Secretary

Scot acquired ownership of Kitchens, Inc. in Dodge City, KS and serves as its President & CEO. Previously he was President & owner of Southwest Casework. In 2009 he combined the architectural custom cabinet manufacturer with Kitchens Inc. The company has grown to include a second showroom in Manhattan, KS. Scott is active on several board of directors in SW Kansas and is currently Secretary of Mariah Fund's Board of Directors.

Tom Taylor

Director

Tom was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, a graduate of Kansas State University, he had a 42-year career with the High Plains Journal, a leading agricultural publication. Starting as an advertising rep. and eventually becoming Publisher in 2008. Now retired in 2016, Tom also served as President of the National Agri-Marketing Assoc. and served as Chairman of the Agri-Council, a division of the Ag Publishers Association. Locally, he served as Chair of the Dodge City, Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Dodge City/Ford County Economic Development Corp and is Chairman of the Dodge City Planning Commission.

Lona DuVall

Director

Lona is president and CEO of Finney County Economic Development in Garden City, Kansas. She grew up in the nearby rural community of Leoti, KS, population 1,450 people. After College, she had a banking career until joining Finney County Eco-Devo in 2010. She chairs the dairy committee for the Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance

Dee Thorpe

Grant Administrator

Co-founder of Mariah Fund, Inc. with her spouse Jeff Thorpe. She retired in 2014 after a 22-year career at High Plains Journal, a leading agricultural publication, serving in management capacities as Manager of Classified Advertising and Sales Support for a Mid-West region of 10-States.