Community Investment Grants

Community Investment Grants are made from the unrestricted pool of resources at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. Grant decisions are intended to support the mission of the Community Foundation — to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity.

Grant committees review requests over $25,000 twice a year. Application deadlines for committee review are and August 13, 2021 and February 16, 2022. Applications for requests under $25,000 have no deadlines and are reviewed on a weekly basis.

The Community Foundation has identified the following areas of emphasis for grantmaking:

  • Early Childhood Development & Education
  • K-12 Career Awareness & Exploration
  • K-12 Internship & Apprenticeships
  • Vibrant Downtowns
  • Trails & Parks

Additionally, the Community Foundation will consider requests for initiatives to support youth and families, parents, vulnerable populations, talent attraction and retention, post-secondary education access, public art, and arts/culture events.

Results-Based Accountability™

To increase impact, the Community Foundation uses a Results-Based Accountability framework.  This offers a step-by-step process to get from the RESULTS we want to improve to the MEANS to create impact.

Community Investment Priorities

Kids & Families

To improve the living experience for Elkhart County citizens through safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, with a focus on impacting children birth to age 8.

Area of Emphasis:
  • Early Childhood Development
    & Education
Additionally:
  • Parents
  • Vulnerable population
  • Youth & Mentoring

Career Pathways

High School Students

To improve the quality of life for Elkhart County residents by generating, developing and supporting career advancement and educational opportunities.

Area of Emphasis:
  • K-12 Career Awareness & Exploration
  • K-12 Internships & Apprenticeships
Additionally:
  • Post-Secondary Access
  • Talent Development, Attraction & Retention

Placemaking

Young kids walking on the Pumpkinvine Trail

To create open communities in Elkhart County which inspire, attract, engage, and connect people, to enrich their living experience.

Area of Emphasis:
  • Vibrant Downtowns
  • Trails & Parks
Additionally:
  • Events (arts, culture, entertainment)
  • Public Art

Grant Process

  • Following a conversation with a Program Officer, submit an online application.
  • A single application makes you eligible for a grant of any size.
  • Decisions on grants of less than $25,000 can be made quickly by staff.
  • Requests of more than $25,000 are reviewed by volunteers on grant committees twice a year.
  • Download the budget worksheets and other documents to help complete your application.

Nonprofit downloads

FAQS
Answers to common questions

Frequently Asked Questions

All public charities with an IRS 501(c)3 status serving Elkhart County are eligible.  In addition, other organizations may be eligible to receive grants for charitable purposes. These include schools, municipalities, governmental units or Chambers of Commerce. 

For large organizations with multiple departments, such as schools and municipalities, the highest-ranking official (such as Superintendent or Mayor) must approve grant applications before submission.

Please speak to a Program Officer before submitting an application.  A Program Officer can give you direction and suggestions to make the process smooth and efficient.  The Community Foundation accepts requests for under $25,000 at any time.  Committee-level applications (greater than $25,000) are due in mid-February and mid-August.

The Community Foundation has criteria by which staff and grant committee members review and evaluate grant applications. These criteria include Impact, Project Goals, Organizational Capacity, Stakeholder Support, and Partners. An Evaluation Rubric establishes criteria and standards for different performance levels and describes what performance looks like at each level.

The Evaluation Rubric provides a guide for organizations to prepare applications and reviews to be done with consistency and thoroughness. An organization or project is not required to be strong in all areas to receive funding, and funding decisions are not made strictly numerically.

Grantmaking supports the Community Foundation’s mission – “to improve the quality of life by inspiring generosity.” Responding to needs and opportunities in the community to achieve the most significant impact over time is the guiding purpose of the grantmaking process.  In addition, as a  steward of the community’s resources, the Community Foundation desires to support projects that are important to the community.  Donations from the community to a project are indicators of community support and are a factor in funding decisions.

A Program Officer is assigned to manage each application and partner with the organization to develop a strong proposal.  The Program Officer anticipates questions from the reviewers so the organization can provide additional information. If the organization is new to the Community Foundation, the Program Officer may explore information about the governing board, history of programs, and financial performance. If the organization is newly formed, additional questions about the plan for ongoing operating support and methods for measuring impact may be explored by the Program Officer.

For requests over $25,000, the committee members may submit questions following an initial review of the application.  These questions are shared with the organization to prepare responses. In most cases, a time will be arranged for the organization to present (in person or via video). This presentation is typically 10 to 15 minutes and includes an overview of the project, followed by questions and answers. The final funding decision can be expected within two weeks of the committee meeting.

The Community Foundation would not exist without “community.” We believe it is our responsibility to maintain a process that preserves community volunteers as decision-makers in the grantmaking process with support from foundation staff. Therefore, the Community Foundation has developed a structure consisting of three committees, each consisting of volunteers who live and work in Elkhart County. The team of Program Officers makes funding recommendations for grants under $25,000. The Board of Trustees ultimately approves or denies all grant requests.

While the community dollars invested through this process are significant, the Community Foundation can only fund 25 percent of the requested dollars because of the many requests received. The Community Foundation is not typically the first funder nor the largest funder of a project.

Grant applications for less than $25,000 are reviewed and awarded within six weeks.  Organizations seeking larger grants are notified of the decisions within 2 – 3 months, by the end of April and October.

Most recipients will complete a report and (may) complete a site visit on or before the first anniversary of their grant date. The organization is given the due dates, with reminders sent in advance. Recipients of a multi-year grant can expect an annual progress report and possibly a site visit before the following year’s payment. Also, depending on the nature and size of the grant, an additional, comprehensive report may be required following the end of the project (typically applied to multi-year or long-term projects). Site visits, when requested, usually fall in the month after the report is due to allow the Program Officer time to review the information before the visit. However, site visits are flexible, arranged at a mutually agreeable time.

The Community Foundation loves to share in our partners’ success and in telling your story. We encourage our grant recipients to download our press kit with logos and a sample press release. In addition, we also encourage you to reach out to our Marketing Team to discuss additional marketing or promotions you would like to consider in support of your project and how we may be of help.

  • Direct assistance to individuals or scholarships for tuition
  • For-profit organizations
  • Projects aimed at promoting a religion or construction projects for religious institutions without community access
  • Political campaigns or direct lobbying efforts
  • Projects that do not serve residents of Elkhart County
  • Reduction of debt, including payment for expenses incurred before grant approval
  • Travel for bands, sports teams, classes, and similar groups
  • Food requests from food pantries
  • Medical, scientific, or academic research
  • Problems resulting from an organization’s failure to plan adequately. Such as:
  1. Relying on a small number of donors for support without developing a plan to sustain programming
  2. Running operating deficits over multiple years
  3. Not anticipating construction contingency costs
  4. Not planning for maintenance costs or replacement costs of existing equipment

 

Contact Us

The programs team at the Community Foundation is ready to offer a hand. Reach out today.

Candy Yoder

Candy Yoder

Chief Program Officer

[email protected]
(574) 295-8761

Amanda Jamison

Amanda Jamison

Senior Program Officer

[email protected]
(574) 295-8761

Ray Caldwell

Ray Caldwell

Program Officer

[email protected]
(574) 295-8761

Vonnie Trumble

Vonnie Trumble

Associate Program Officer

[email protected]
(574) 295-8761