MISSION: To Improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity.
The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is dedicated to transforming Elkhart County by:
Advising donors of all types and their professional advisors on charitable giving.
Awarding grants to effective nonprofit organizations that are doing invaluable work in our communities.
Providing leadership to address critical needs with a focus on youth development, vibrant community and quality of life.
While vacationing in Naples, Florida in the mid-1980s, Elkhart County resident Oscar Schricker observed people being approached for financial contributions by the local community foundation. Thinking about the abundant wealth in Elkhart County, he and a friend, Jim McNamee, began talking about the possibility of forming a community foundation in our county.
Each talked to colleagues and friends, including Bill Myers, who became the first president of what was to become the Elkhart County Community Foundation (renamed the Community Foundation of Elkhart County in 2015). Dr. John Foreman generously made the first significant contribution. Others who became founding directors were Charles Ainlay, Jon Armstrong, Lehman Beardsley, Wilbert (Bill) Budd, Arthur J. Decio, Samuel Hoover, William Johnson, Lee Martin, Richard Pletcher, Laura Rydson and Thomas Warrick.
According to Schricker, “a lot of people had foresight and saw the possibilities.” One of these caring individuals was Wilbert (Bill) Budd. Budd was an engineer who served in many capacities at CTS Corporation including that of executive vice-president and senior director. He was best known for his quiet dedication to numerous Elkhart-related philanthropic causes and organizations, most notably the Community Foundation as a founding director and former treasurer.
Prior to 2012, Budd was credited as the Community Foundation’s single largest contributor. He died in early August 2006 at the age of 93, leaving a $7.4 million gift to the Community Foundation the following year. Budd always wanted to inspire successful men and women to make the most of what they earned. “If you have been prosperous in this community,” he often said, “be a good steward and continue to give something back.”
In 2012, the Community Foundation received an end-of-life gift from the estate of Legacy Society member Guy David Gundlach. He had died unexpectedly October 16, 2011 in Malibu, California at the age of 56. The initial gift was just over $114 million. However, upon receipt of property from the estate the final gift was closer to $150 million.
According to Community Foundation President Dr. Pete McCown, “We are honored David chose the Community Foundation as the conduit of his gift to the people of the county. We are committed to be thoughtful stewards of David’s wishes.” Having no spouse or children, Gundlach requested that the Community Foundation be the charitable beneficiary of his estate, channeling its proceeds to county nonprofit organizations. Gundlach’s gift is being held in the Community Foundation’s unrestricted Fund for Elkhart County.
With the opportunity to continue to do good – if not greater – work with local nonprofit partners in Elkhart County, the Community Foundation initiated a Listening Tour in 2013. McCown and foundation staff members met with over 80 diverse groups of people from throughout Elkhart County, talking and listening to gathering of 10 to 12 people at a time. People like friends and neighbors of Community Foundation board members, members of the Hispanic community, farmers, teenagers, senior citizens, law enforcement offices, Amish bishops, nonprofit executive directors, homeless residents of the Faith Mission and more. We asked: “What do you think would be the best use of this extraordinary gift to our community?” And we listened.
The response from the Listening Tours was clear: focus on our county’s children. So, from the data gathered, the emphasis for grant making out of the unrestricted Fund for Elkhart County was focused on Youth Development first, followed by Vibrant Community and lastly Quality of Life, in hopes to make major transformative changes in Elkhart County.
A Note of Thanks
The telling of the Gundlach chapter in our history would not be complete without offering our sincere thanks to two individuals who played significant roles as this chapter unfolded: Liz Naquin Borger and Mike Pianowski, both former Community Foundation board members.
Liz Naquin Borger, a friend of David Gundlach since childhood, was the personal representative of his estate. She is currently Senior Vice President/Investment at Stifel: The Elkhart Group.
Mike Pianowski, partner in Sanders Pianowski attorneys at law, served as lead attorney for the Guy David Gundlach estate.
A sincere, heart-felt thank you to these two individuals who basically put a year of their lives on hold as they traveled the globe to settle David’s estate.
Thanks to the many generous donors of the Community Foundation, we are now celebrating 30 years of service to Elkhart County. Due to the generosity of the Elkhart County communities, we are one of Indiana’s largest community foundations with assets of more than $300 million. Since our inception, over $100 million has been granted into the community. We are made up of more than 400 charitable funds established by individuals, families, companies, nonprofits and private foundations. Our capacity to serve the community is directly tied to our ability to preserve and enhance our financial assets. It is with strength and hope the Community Foundation seeds the local landscape, supporting plans, programs, and ideas that potentially stand the test of time. The Community Foundation strives to be a local entity known for inspiring good and impacting success for current and future generations.
In December 2019, Acts of Service became part of the Community Foundation family. The program began in 2017 by Lippert Components to encourage volunteerism. Acts of Service uses technology and processes to link volunteers with needs in the community and is growing, with more than 30 business partners encouraging employees to use the program to help others.
Founding donors are those individuals or organizations that contributed $50,000 or more from the inception of the Foundation through June 30, 1995.
These include Bashor Children’s Home, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Goshen Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbert H. Budd, First Congregational Church, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Corson, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Deahl, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Decio, The Decio Family (Terrence, Jamee, Lindy, Reilly, Jay, and Leigh), Sherrill and Helen Deputy Family, Elkhart County Council on Aging, Elkhart County 4-H, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Fidler, Dr. and Mrs. John Foreman, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Hartman, Mr. F.L. Hascall, Goshen College, Goshen Rotary Club Scholarship Endowment, Greencroft Foundation, Gunden Family,
Also: Paul and Joyce Hultin Family Endowment, KeyBank, LaCasa of Goshen, Lilly Endowment, Inc., Mervin D. Lung Family, Martin Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Martin, Mr. William F. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Naquin, Northridge High School Dollars for Scholars, Oaklawn Foundation, Mrs. Lee A. Rieth, Ms. Martha Reith, Mr. and Mrs. Marly Rydson, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Sailor, Salvation Army of Elkhart, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Sherman, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Schricker, Ina L. Strasser Endowment, Trinity United Methodist Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Basil S. Turner, United Way of Elkhart County, Mr. and Mrs. Richard VanDerKarr, Maynard W. Wells Family, YMCA/YWCA Joint Community Project.
Community Foundation Staff Presidents:
1989-1999: Bill Myers
2000-2011: W. Earl Taylor
2011 – present: Dr. Pete McCown
The Community Foundation is blessed by the hundreds of volunteers from throughout our county’s cities and town who so unselfishly give hours of their time to Community Foundation committees. From the grant committees to our scholarship committee, from volunteer experts within our local legal community to our financial advisors, we could not accomplish what we do without their commitment. For this we are sincerely grateful.
The Community Foundation team members enjoy serving Elkhart County by responding to current and emerging community needs and providing efficient service to our donors, nonprofit organizations, volunteers and community. Team members are encouraged to be self-directed, motivated, highly professional and creative.
Whether you are applying for a full-time, part-time or internship position at the Community Foundation, please email a cover letter and current resume to Info@InspiringGood.org.