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Community Foundation receives $1M grant

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

The Community Foundation of Grant County has received $1 million in matching grants from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The first grant consists of $700,000 which Lilly Endowment Inc. will provide in matches of $2 for every $1 donated. The money will support the work of the Community Impact Funds, which the Community Foundation uses for unrestricted endowments.

The second grant will match 60 cents to every dollar donated up to $300,000 and is designated for a charitable project addressing a systemic issue. The Community Foundation plans to use this funding to continue supporting the work of Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County in confronting child poverty.

Lilly Endowment Inc. has given the Community Foundation six similar gifts in previous years as part of its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative. According to the Community Foundation’s Executive Director Dawn Brown, these grants are a tremendous opportunity that allows the foundation to provide a lot more local grantmaking.

“It’s a big win for the whole county,” Brown said. “It’s really remarkable what (Lilly Endowment Inc. does), and we’re really grateful.”

The Community Impact Funds, which the $700,000 grant will support, are used to make the grants given to local nonprofits serving the community. Some organizations these funds have supported annually include Family Service Society, Carey Services and the Grant County Rescue Mission. Brown said that one reason Lilly Endowment Inc. provided this matching grant was to strengthen the Community Foundation’s grantmaking muscles.

One project aided by the Community Impact Funds recently was the new veterans monument in outside City Hall in Gas City. According to Gas City Mayor Larry Leach, the $15,000 matching grant provided by the Community Foundation played a major role in getting the project started. The money actually made up roughly 10 percent of the entire project, he said, which he estimated will be in the neighborhood of $200,000 once complete.

“This (monument) was on my bucket list,” Leach said. “I wanted to see this done before I left office. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time. … (Now) it’s happened.”

The Community Foundation can’t fund everything, Brown said, but it awards as many grants throughout the year as it can. Earlier this year, the foundation hosted a grant celebration for about four or five organizations that had completed their grant projects.

One organization celebrated was the Marion Alumni Association, which had used its grant money to purchase new band uniforms for the first time in 30 years. The Fairmount Police Department also celebrated obtaining defibrillators for patrol cars to provide the potentially life-saving equipment sometimes needed when responding to vehicular accidents.

“We do tons of things all throughout the year, depending on who applies and our board making those decisions on who we are able to fund,” Brown said. The more money the foundation has, she said, the more “yeses” it can provide.

While the $300,000 grant is a less robust match than the $2 for $1 match of the Community Impact Funds, Brown pointed out that any matching grant provides an immediate return on investment for donors and furthers important work in the local community. She looks forward to assisting the work of Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County in dismantling child poverty and helping local families to thrive.

Another opportunity Lilly Endowment Inc. provided for the Community Foundation was a new challenge Brown found intriguing. According to Brown, if every member on the foundation’s board donates $500 during this grant cycle, Lilly Endowment Inc. will donate $100,000 for the foundation to use at its discretion. This offer was given to all the Community Foundations in Indiana, which is the only state to have a Community Foundation represented in every county.

This challenge to get 100 percent involvement from the 20-member board was designed, Brown believes, to encourage board members to be active in their foundation and say “thank you” in a tangible way.

“I’m hoping that every foundation in the state is able to make that challenge,” she said.

For more information on the Community Foundation of Grant County, visit givetogrant.org.