Skip to Main Content
CFO Stories

Leading Locally: Nixa Community Foundation

Nixa, the largest community in Christian County, was named in 1881 for the local blacksmith. Today, it is home to more than 23,000 people — and Sucker Day, which began in 1957. The annual festival grew out of tradition: In the beginning, locals would close up shop and skip school to go fishing.

Affiliate Foundations

The CFO’s first affiliate enters 30th year of philanthropic service

The legacy of the Nixa Community Foundation comes through in years, but also in lives. Since its founding in 1993, the work of the CFO’s first regional affiliate has grown through the time and energy of locals, some with longstanding connections to the area, who chose to invest in a new idea. That success helped pave the way for the way for a list that now includes more than 50 local affiliate foundations in communities across central and southern Missouri.

In Nixa, three decades of seeds have grown into layers of support for one of the fastest-growing communities in the Ozarks. Distributions have also increased: In 2019, the NCF hit an all-time high of more than $71,000 back into the community in just one year.

“Since our inception, we’ve donated over $3.7 million to the community,” says Paul Johns, a longtime board member. “You’ve got to have some impact with that over the years. All of that was in small increments, but when you spread it out, you get more help to more people, more kids. It’s just awesome.”

One example came years ago, when the NCF helped fund a car for the school’s D.A.R.E. program.

“Our first, biggest donation out was $10,000 to them for that vehicle,” says Sharon Whitehill, an advisor who formerly served on the board.

Nixa Public Schools is one of the top beneficiaries of the Nixa Community Foundation. The school is also supported by the Nixa Education Foundation, which holds funds with the NCF and is a member of the CFO’s Rural Schools Partnership.

Many needs and focuses have been served by the NCF, which is comprised of around 60 different funds. One even allows all Nixa city employees to donate directly via automatic payroll deduction.

“Every employee that we hire, our HR director talks about it and makes it an option for them,” says Jimmy Liles, president of the NCF and administrator for the City of Nixa. “A lot of employees take advantage of that — they’ll do an automatic withdrawal for whatever amount they choose, and then it goes into that fund.”

There has been support of Troop 200 with the Boy Scouts — “they graduate a lot of Eagle Scouts, and every year I feel that we are always very supportive of their needs,” says Board Member Callie Linville — to hundreds of free weather radios to support for local food pantries, ham radio operators, and even local students who want to go to prom, but don’t have the resources.

The NCF also recognizes the individuals who help make their community great every quarter through “Extra Mile” awards.

“It’s for anyone who has literally gone the extra mile to help people in Nixa,” Johns says. “A lot of these people wouldn’t get recognition otherwise. I think that‘s a really cool thing.”

Ultimately, it all goes back to enriching the community for today — and tomorrow.

“At some point, I've been a beneficiary of the Community Foundation and didn’t probably even realize it,” Linville says. “Did my teacher have extra reading books? Or is it simply that I can go through the drive-thru at Scooters, and the person that's taking my order had reading comprehension problems, and they got scaled up and they can take my order again for my coffee? It’s all full circle.”

Nixa Community Foundation’s Next Goal: Greater community connections and awareness

“I think we have a great community, and a community full of people that want to take care of others. They want to give. We just need to get that avenue out there for them to do that,” Liles says, pointing to priorities including an enhanced social media and web presence.

In addition to other channels, board members share about the importance of helping educate about the ways people can be connected with the NCF now.

“It doesn’t have to be necessarily a legacy,” Linville says, noting that it’s about shifting the mindset of community members. “You can make an impact now. You can go ahead and open a fund now and we can start granting out of that fund past a certain threshold.”

In their own words

Why do you serve?

2021 board jimmy liles web

I have a passion for kids. This is a way for me to be able to give some of me to that future, and to be able to help support not just this generation but future generations.”

—Jimmy Liles, NCF president

Sharon whitehill nixa 4x5

I love Nixa. I love the people, I love the community. This is where my family grew up and this where my grandchildren are growing up. It’s just been an honor to be able to give back to so many organizations, and be able to see what they do with those grants.”

—Sharon Whitehill, NCF board member

Callie linville nixa 4x5 1

“I feel like by serving, I’m honoring my family members that have set up funds and have passed, mostly my grandparents. I feel like I’m honoring their wishes and their desires.”

—Callie Linville, NCF board member

Paul johns nixa 4x5 1

“In some ways, I think it’s good for the Nixa Community Foundation to help instill a sense of loyalty to their hometown. Nowadays, it’s more of a bedroom community for Springfield than ever. There’s so many people who live here who are really not invested in the community. We want to try and draw them in and get them involved and make them proud of where they live.”

—Paul Johns, NCF secretary/treasurer

Support our mission by becoming a donor today.

Donate Now