From the Community Foundation’s Program Team

Candy YoderThe daffodils are blooming. The sun is shining (at least more than it did in March). And we are excited about all that’s happening in our community and at your Community Foundation.

We hope you enjoy springtime and this update from us at the Community Foundation.


Candy Yoder
Chief Program Officer

Kevin Deary joins the Community Foundation

We are thrilled that Kevin Deary, longtime CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, has joined our team. He retired from BGC in December after nearly 40 years of working with kids and helping our local organization grow significantly.

Kevin will oversee The Learning Center programming, including the free educational sessions to those working in the nonprofit sector and CEO Roundtables. As director of professional & organizational development, he’s our official coach and mentor for the nonprofit sector. He will do that independently of the grant process and serve as your resource as you fulfill your important missions. This interview with Kevin is a helpful explanation of what he’ll be focused on:

Vonnie Trumble has been overseeing TLC in addition to her job as a Kids & Families program officer. She’s done a tremendous job and will help Kevin transition into his role. Thank you, Vonnie, for all your excellent, caring work.


The Community Foundation’s board approved its spring grant disbursements at its meeting on April 13. This will result in $3,405,732 of new grants to dozens of nonprofits and programs throughout Elkhart County.
The grants awarded between October 20, 2022 and mid-April 2023 are:
  • Career Pathways grants totaling $1,141,000
  • Kids and Families grants totaling $1,116,401
  • Placemaking grants totaling $551,200
  • Connected Network of Trails Initiative grants totaling $202,823
  • Opportunity Fund totaling $394,308

The Learning Center season winds down

Our season of sessions for The Learning Center ended with our session on Thursday, April 13. We are thrilled with how many of you came to one or more of our events this year and are at work on the next season starting this fall. (If you have ideas of what you’d like to have in terms of planning sessions as part of TLC, reach out to Kevin Deary at [email protected].)

Our friends at Beacon Health & Aquatics have a number of free events at their facility and are hoping that members of the nonprofit community will utilize them and share the offerings with your network. You can learn more at the Aquatic Center’s website and download a calendar. The rooms in The Commons where we often have Community Foundation meetings or gatherings are also available for rent to those in the nonprofit community.

Connect in Elkhart County events ramp up

As winter turns to spring, people are hitting the trails in Elkhart County. We hope to see you at one of our many Connect in Elkhart County events in the coming months:

  • May 6, Ridge Run & Roll (Middlebury)
  • May 19, BicycleFest, a Bike to Work Week event, 5 to 8 p.m. at Elkhart Environmental Center
  • June 2 and 3, Wheels and Deals Cycling Celebration, 5 to 9 p.m. at Goshen’s First Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
  • June 17, Pumpkinvine Bike Ride (Goshen)
  • August 12, Pedal Party (Wakarusa/Nappanee)
  • August 19, Quilt Garden Ride (Elkhart)

We’ll update more information on the Connect in Elkhart County website as we have details about these events.

Building Strong Brains has a new leader 

Veteran educator and speech-language pathologist Kimberly Boynton will be the first coalition director for Building Strong Brains, Elkhart County’s Early Childhood Coalition. 

The coalition’s goal is to ensure that every kindergartner has the necessary skills to succeed in elementary school. Five agencies — Horizon Education Alliance, Oaklawn, CAPS – Child and Parent Services, Crossroads United Way, and Community Foundation of Elkhart County — are collaborating on the coalition. The Community Foundation will employ Boynton, and her work will be guided by a community-driven plan.

Boynton is an experienced speech-language pathologist and assistant professor of speech-language pathology at Saint Mary’s College. She has worked in public education, higher education, and the nonprofit sector, (mostly in Elkhart County) and will begin her new role on June 1. 

The coalition is focused on changing outcomes over the next decade or more, and three grant applications are already in process or submitted to support this community initiative.

Candid available to the public

Candid is a powerful set of tools that is being offered to all nonprofits (and others) in Elkhart County.

Candid formed as GuideStar merged with Foundation Center, bringing their databases of nonprofit financial information and granting database together under one name. The result is a website that offers access to GuideStar, Foundation Directory, and a Grants to Individuals module with profiles of 10,000 grantmakers. 

Candid’s mission is to “get you the information you need to do good.”

For the coming year, the Community Foundation is providing free access at any Elkhart County library and at our offices. You can utilize the site at a library or when on our public wifi network to search for potential funders for your cause and to view your profile that funders can access

Vonnie Trumble is the contact person for this effort. Please contact her with any questions.

Leadership academies

The Goshen and Greater Elkhart chambers of commerce are seeking students for their upcoming fall leadership academies.

A leadership academy helps its members become better leaders. The academy offers training in leadership skills, as well as access to mentors and other resources. Both also engage the nonprofit community to help connect participants and encourage volunteerism.

Anyone who participates in Leadership Academy will learn how to:

  • Build relationships with others
  • Make decisions more easily
  • Overcome obstacles and challenges
  • Gain confidence in themselves and their abilities

Vibrant Communities’ Next Chapter

Vibrant Communities has helped change Elkhart County for the better and raised awareness about both who we are and how we can work together to thrive. A new action agenda outlines several key tactics for building strong and resilient communities. 

One important strategy is to identify critical partners who can work together to achieve common goals. These partners may include residents, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, and higher education institutions. By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, communities can ensure that everyone’s voices are heard and that everyone is working towards a common vision for the future. Another important tactic is to convene community leadership to review and prioritize objectives. 

A speaker series is being planned as an ongoing forum, as well as a 2023 Sentiment Survey (Collaboration with IUSB), Community Champion Roundtables, and celebration of the Year of the Volunteer in collaboration with Acts of Service.

Ray Caldwell, a Community Foundation program officer, is helping lead this effort.