Our History

1984 – What began as an idea and then a Chamber of Commerce Task Force; The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. was incorporated. Founding Board Members stepped forward to serve. Chuck Osterholt named first Executive Director. Gannett Foundation made first $40,000 gift.

1985 – Began meeting, established statement of purpose, and formed committees. Developed criteria for the distribution of funds. Received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Held first Annual Meeting.

1986 – First funds were established. First grants were awarded. Held first “Skins Game” to raise funds for the Foundation. Second major gift of $30,000 received from Gannett Foundation bringing total gifts to $132,000 since inception.

1987 – Began educating Board Members on Planned Giving concept. Developed first marketing plan.

1988 – Developed Executive Director job description and contract. Hired Lois Ball as second Executive Director. Printed the scholarship survey notebook. Conducted first strategic plan. Total assets exceeded $100,000

1989 – Published first newsletter. Help fund and participate in COMPASS community needs assessment. Began “Give Five” program to give five hours a week and five percent of income to philanthropy. Visit from professional consultant Helen Monroe.

1990 – Number of Funds has grown to twenty-two. First Fund Raising Workshop held. Established a clearinghouse for nonprofit furniture, equipment, and supplies. Assets reach nearly $150,000.

1991 – Hired Elizabeth Wright as Executive Director. Began receiving GIFT (Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow) grant monies from Lilly Endowment Inc. Established goal to reach $5 million by year end 1996. Lilly Endowment Inc. granted $107,620 for operations and $1.7 million for endowment growth.

1992 – Formal Investment Policy adopted, and first professional money manager hired. Bylaws were revised and updated. Specialized software was purchased to monitor all fund activity. 27 endowed funds and 15 non-permanent funds. Assets grew to more than $1.3 million with $500,000 major gift from L. Hewitt and Amelia Carpenter.

1993 – Staff increased to include two part-time individuals. One accountant and one clerical support person. Fund raising and grant writing workshops were held. Marketing efforts increased tribute gifts to the Foundation. Total funds reached 62 in number. More than one million in endowed gifts generated slightly over $500,000 in Lilly matching dollars.

1994 – Local Rotarians challenged other clubs and organizations in the community to contribute for matching dollars. Funds exceed the 70 marker. Accounting and estate planning seminars held. Reference Library on grant writing was purchased and housed at Marion Public Library. Assets total nearly $2.5 million. A special project grant of $100,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. helped with the $200,000 raised locally for the Waterfront Parkway Project and the Business Education Partnership Program expansion.

1995 – Funds have increased to over 90. Hosted not-for-profit organization seminar. Completed Lilly Endowment asset building challenge six months early with outstanding community support and a million-dollar gift received from Robert and Janis Board bringing total assets to nearly $5.5 million.

1996 – Helped to establish new community foundation for Blackford County with Executive Director serving as a consultant/part-time director. Hosted strategic planning, grant writing and endowment building seminars. Made first proactive grant. Applied for GIFT Phase II grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. Funds total 120. Assets have grown to nearly $7 million and more than $1 million distributed back to community.

1997 – First Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship offered for 1998 graduates. Specialized software for community foundations purchased. $250,000 special project grants were awarded including $50,000 to the Waterfront Parkway Project and $50,000 to the Business Education Partnership. Completed GIFT Phase II challenge early by raising $500,000 locally to generate $500,000 for unrestricted endowment. Completed GIFT Phase III in six weeks by raising more than $1 million in new gifts to generate another $1 million in match from Lilly Endowment Inc.

1998 – Adopted special affiliation with the United Way. First Youth Grant Program was established to teach youth about philanthropy. Developed mission: To enhance an improved quality of life in Grant County. Assets exceeded $10 million with 144 funds being administered.

1999 – Participated in Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT Phase IV Program. Office Building was acquired, renovated, decorated, and equipped with Lilly matching monies. Leased office space to the United Way. Hosted legal training seminar. Executive Director traveled to Russia representing Indiana Community Foundations. Assets total more than $16 million with 153 funds. In three years, Blackford County Community Foundation assets total more than $3.5 million.

2000 – Supported and acted as neutral convener of Framework for Change. Began community strategic planning sessions for CAPE (Community Alliances to Promote Education). Adopted Ethical and Operational Standards for Community Foundations. Completed Taking Stock Self-Assessment of the Foundation funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. Successfully completed GIFT IV raising $100,000 locally to receive $300,000 for operations from Lilly Endowment Inc. and $1.2 million to receive another $1.2 toward endowed funds.

2001 – Received $50,000 CAPE Planning Grant for community convening to identify greatest educational need. Awarded $300,000 to CAPE Consortium of all Grant County schools. Applied for GIFT Phase V from Lilly Endowment Inc. $5 Million CAPE grant was submitted to Lilly Endowment Inc. 40 organizations applied for Foundation’s $600,000 impact grant monies. $200,000 was awarded to St. Martin DePorres Community Center and $400,000 was given as a challenge to the YMCA toward their building campaign. Received $5 million CAPE (Community Alliances to Promote Education) for Grant County community with Indiana Wesleyan University acting as grantee with Foundation’s endorsement.

2002 – Conducted an updated strategic plan for the Foundation. Hosted a grant writing workshop for area nonprofits. Successfully completed GIFT Phase V operating challenge raising $100,000 locally to receive another $100,000. We received nearly $300,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. matching a like amount raised for unrestricted endowment.

2003 – Hired professional investment consultant to monitor investment portfolio. Revised investment and spending policies. Total funds were at 185.

2004 – Celebrated Foundation’s Twentieth Anniversary. Gave special $20,000 grant. Executive Director traveled to Eastern Europe representing Community Foundations. Provided special $40,000 last dollar needed to complete Boys’ and Girls’ Club new facility campaign. Participated in United Way 4-Community grant for Grace House. Funds exceed 200 with $14 million in endowed funds.

2005 – Applied for CAPE III funding of $800,000. Project Leadership staff funded by CAPE II were moved to Foundation Office. Statement of Ethical Principals adopted. Total funds at 225. Foundation’s total assets reached $17.7 million mark. $800,000 was received from Lilly Endowment Inc. for CAPE III to further sustain existing CAPE II programming. $250,000 was also received from Lilly for Sustaining Resource Development to help the Foundation become self-sufficient.

2006 – Created Community Development Officer and Clerical support positions. Lower level of Foundation building was remodeled to accommodate CAPE staff. Funds total 228 with new gifts totaling $1,624,896.

2007 – Spirit of Philanthropy Awards created to recognize philanthropic endeavors. Partnership established with IWU, Taylor, Ivy Tech, Economic Growth Council, Gas City, and Marion to promote educational opportunities.

2008 – Total assets exceed $18 million with 243 individual funds. $1.3 million distributed in grants, program support and scholarships. Foundation celebrated 25th Anniversary. Averaging more than $1 million in new gifts annually and giving back more than $1 million to the community.

2009 – Celebrated our 25th Anniversary $1.6 million in new gifts received with $1.8 million in payouts. Fund total reaches 245.

2010 – Property behind Foundation office building was acquired, and dilapidated structures removed improving appearance of the neighborhood as well as providing additional space for parking. Total assets reached over $19 million with more than 275 funds. Foundation one of first to be reconfirmed as in compliance with the Ethical and Operational standards for Indiana Community Foundations on July 20, 2010.

2011 – Executive Director Elizabeth Wright announced retirement plans for 2012. Efforts to make Project Leadership its own separate entity were undertaken.

2012 – Executive Director Elizabeth Wright retired; Dawn Brown hired as new Executive Director. Project Leadership receives its own 501(c)(3) and becomes an official non-profit organization.

2013 – Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Economic Growth Council, and Community Foundation partnered together to create Garfield Garden in the lot behind the Foundation. Our Operating Endowment reached the level of 100% sustainable. We hit $19.M in assets…a longtime goal and amazing achievement.

2014 – Awarded $1,444,059 in grants to worthy causes in our community and nearly doubled the average amount granted annually. The Foundation has proceeded to award between $1 and $3 Million annually since this year. Received over $3 Million in donations, including $1 Million from Lilly Endowment Inc.

2015 – Awarded the Foundation’s first two Big Idea grants: Launch Marion for a small business accelerator and center ($170,000) and to Affordable Housing Corporation for expanding and enhancing developmental assets for children living in poverty ($115,885). The Community Foundation also awarded a $120,000 proactive grant to Project Leadership for a new Sanborn Scholars Technical Certification Program with Ivy Tech Community College.

2016 – The Community Foundation met the GIFT VI $1 Million Match offered by Lilly Endowment Inc with more than 340 donors contributing to 95 existing endowment funds. Plus, there were 15 new endowment funds established as donors took advantage of the rare opportunity to receive matching dollars.

2017 – Officially hired Cathy Weatherspoon as the Executive Director for Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County.

2018 – Awarded the Foundation’s first Crowdfunding grants to The Quilters Hall of Fame ($10,000), Marion High School Alumni Association ($40,725), and City of Gas City ($69,407).

2019 – Celebrated our 35th Birthday by gifting the community with an interactive mural to commemorate our assets hitting an all-time high of $27 Million and giving back more than $20 Million to the Grant County community through our grantmaking efforts. The Community Foundation of Grant County received a $75,000 Community Leadership Planning Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to deepen the Foundations understanding of the challenges facing Grant County due to our high rate of child poverty, the opportunity to convene key local solution-oriented stakeholders, and both the time and funding to further explore how to effectively play a leadership role in implementing initiatives—all strategies that enhance the quality of life in Grant County. Received over $3 Million to 19 local nonprofit organizations from the Merlin J. Loew Family Trust.

2020 – Awarded $129,127 in Rapid Response Grants as a result of the global pandemic and a Governor-ordered stay-at-home quarantine mandate to flatten the curve, while local social service organizations worked tirelessly to assist communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Met the Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT VII Match.  Launched the first Impact Investment with the Bridge the Gap—an alternative to payday lending loan program.

2021 – Officially brought Thriving Grant County under the umbrella of the Community Foundation as a supporting organization.