ELKHART -- The Elkhart County Community Foundation awarded $167,053 in grants during the 2010 fall and winter quarters to help 16 organizations improve their programs, facilities or services during 2011.
The all-volunteer grant committee received 28 applications totaling over $578,000 with resources to award grants to 16. Of those, the committee awarded $20,000 or more to three groups.
The Elkhart Community Soccer Association received $25,000 to help build and renovate a soccer complex; Bashor Children's Home received $20,000 in support of foster parent recruitment; and Five Star/Manowe Ministry received $20,000 in support of Elkhart Central High School programming.
Jim Siegmann, ECCF program manager, said the committee talked about the Elkhart Community Soccer Association as an economic and community development initiative as well as a youth program.
The soccer association hosts games for several area soccer clubs at the NIBCO Soccer Complex in Elkhart, according to John Deputy, a member of the association's planning and infrastructure committee. That often includes Northern Indiana Soccer League tournaments, which draw thousands of players, parents and spectators to the area.
"The challenge we have is that the demand for the complex and the demand from the community is clearly there," Deputy said. "We want to upgrade the complex to meet the demand" and also in preparation for the future.
Siegmann said that the grant committee saw this as an economic development project because of the number of people in Elkhart during tournament events.
The Bashor Children's Home application pointed out the lack of qualified foster parents for children in need.
"The process which links potential foster parents with boys and girls waiting to be placed in caring homes doesn't provide the resources to recruit the necessary adults. The lack of this basic requirement was brought to the attention of the grant committee. They understood the importance of finding capable, committed adults who are devoted to helping kids whose lives are often the most difficult... and so awarded a grant to Bashor Children's Home to aid in recruiting competent foster parents."
Siegmann said ECCF has awarded a few grants to Five Star in the past. Five Star is an area after-school program that tries to teach kids values that will lead to good decision making. Siegmann said this grant will help them expand their program to Elkhart Central High School.
"They take kids who are at risk, they take kids who have a lot of cards stacked against them and help them keep their ship traveling in the right direction," Seigmann said, "and they have a good track record doing it."
The ECCF was established in 1989 to inspire people to make charitable gifts that improve the quality of life in Elkhart County. The grant process is open to all not-for-proft 5-1(c)3 agencies in the county.
Since its creation, the ECCF has granted funds totaling $5,325,197.