A Letter from Community Foundation president, Pete McCown, and board chair, Dzung Nguyen.
It’s humbling when people choose the Community Foundation of Elkhart County as the way to make their generosity live on for future generations.
Whether it’s helping young people better afford higher education or supporting the work of the great nonprofits who create a safety net in our community, the gifts to the Foundation make our community stronger and plant seeds that will grow and bloom in unexpected and remarkable ways.
The real work of the Foundation is matching donors and worthy causes. It is work that our staff and volunteers take seriously. Watching them interact with donors and grant recipients is inspiring. These people are the engine that truly inspires good and improves the quality of life in our community.
They do this work with high degrees of commitment and professionalism. From those who answer the phones to those who make the tough decisions on how to award grants, it inspires us to support their work and help them be community leaders. The fiscal year that ended this summer was remarkable. We received $12.9 million in new gifts between July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016. That is just astounding! The assets of the Foundation were $231.6 million when we closed the books in June. The story of generosity in this community continues to grow and be told in new ways.
Due to the generosity of our fund holders and the growth of our unrestricted fund (Fund for Elkhart County), we distributed more than $16.1 million in grants and scholarships. We’re also grateful to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. which inspired even more generosity through their GIFT VI Initiative that was completed in March.
In addition to its role in being a caretaker for the generous gifts of others, your Community Foundation of Elkhart County has been invited into several processes to improve life in our county and larger community. We are thrilled to be among the thought leaders in those efforts. We are excited and proud to be a part of the Regional Cities Initiative (being involved in a regional mindset and movement) as well as the local efforts of the Vibrant Communities Initiative.
Vibrant Communities of Elkhart County gathered more than 600 people this spring to discuss making this place more liveable. Conversations in our cities and towns gathered people to talk about what we want to be as a community. The Community Foundation helped sponsor this conversation because we thought it was important.
The resulting strategic plan will give our staff and volunteers, as well as others in our community, a road map for the future drawn from the dreams of our residents.
For more than a year, the Regional Cities of Northern Indiana worked to secure a $42 million grant from the state of Indiana. Pete has been a key member on that governing board, which was humbling and exciting, particularly as the group was successful in getting the funding that will help transform our region for years to come.
Alongside both of those efforts, Community Foundation leaders have been involved in conversations about a new natatorium and River District in Elkhart. We have been at the table and worked to advance a new type of development for Elkhart and Elkhart County. If successful, we will have a world-class Fitness and Aquatics facility on the plot next to two rivers in downtown Elkhart. We could also have apartments and shopping that look different than what we have had in the past in that same River District.
It’s an exciting time to live and work in Elkhart County. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County and all those who support it as donors and volunteers is a key part of that. We are grateful for all that is happening in this amazing community.