ELKHART — The Elkhart County Community Foundation made $560,353 in grants to 29 area nonprofit groups over the last two quarters, the foundation announced Thursday.
The biggest single grant, $200,000, went to the Horizon Education Alliance, a group working to improve education at all levels across the county.
“ECCF is proud to support the Horizon Education Alliance,” said Jill Richardson, chairwoman of the foundation’s grant committee, in a written announcement.
“The collaborative efforts we are seeing between industry, private individuals and all Elkhart County school systems are exciting. If there is one thing that can impact our entire community, it is education,” Richardson said. “This alliance is taking on all levels of education from birth to adulthood. Horizon Education Alliance is focusing on well-researched programs and has plans for measuring outcomes. We look forward to learning where this will lead Elkhart County.”
The alliance is important to the foundation, said Pete McCown, president of the foundation. “The Horizon Education Alliance is a natural extension of our own interest in community development and quality of life,” McCown said.
The foundation played a key role in both versions of the Horizon Project over the last decade, and they see the alliance as embodying those efforts. Though the foundation and the alliance are separate entities,“We see them as an extension of our own work,” McCown said.
That’s part of why the largest single grant in the foundation’s history went to the alliance.
That covered nearly half of the alliance’s goal of raising $450,000 for the first 15 months, which will end at the end of December, according to Brian Wiebe, executive director of the alliance. Wiebe called the grant “very significant,” along with nearly as much that’s been donated by others.
Wiebe said the alliance is “grateful for the community foundation’s confidence in HEA and in our multi-year plan. It’s exciting to see a community vision emerge over a number of years, and then to see us move aggressively into implementation.”
They’ve hired staff and are teaming up with other organizations to improve parent engagement, pre-school, K-12, college and career, and adult education.
In addition to the horizon grant being the largest in the foundation’s history, the total amount awarded for the first half of the foundation’s fiscal year set a record.
That record won’t stand for long, though. The foundation is working on how best to deploy future gifts, which will dwarf this amount thanks to a gift made last year by Guy David Gundlach, a gift with a total between $140 million and $150 million.
That is starting to trickle its way in. Before Gundlach’s gift, the foundation had up to about $800,000 a year to give out in grants. There’s now a task force in the foundation to decide “how do we build a new architecture for giving away $8 million a year rather than $800,000 a year,” McCown said.
“There’s going to be an interim year here where there’s probably some greater deployment of grant resources in 2013, early 2014, but until we’ve finished our thinking and planning and research work, we’re not going to hit all eight cylinders,” McCown said.
“We’re going to do this listening tour, the grant task force is doing its work, doing its research,” he said.
That process could take through this calendar year, which gets into budget year 2014 for the foundation.
In the interim, though, the foundation board added $1 million to the $600,000 they’d already budgeted for grants this year, McCown said.
Other than Horizon, the organizations listed in the grant list for the first half of the foundation’s 2013 budget year are:
Elkhart Civic Theatre, $9,000;
Ruthmere Foundation, $10,000;
Emerge Ministries, $10,000;
Guidance Ministries, $25,000;
Child And Parent Services, $20,000;
Church Community Services, $17,000;
Greencroft Foundation, $10,000;
Elkhart County Council on Aging, $4,000;
MDC Goldenrod, $12,000;
Women’s Care Center, $15,000;
Harvest Basket for Community Services, $10,000;
It’s Possible, $10,000;
Camp Watcha-Wanna-Do, $5,000;
Michiana Male Chorus, $3,000;
Campus Center for Young Children, $8,449;
Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, $23,674;
Crossing Educational Center, $70,000;
Habitat for Humanity, $30,000;
Pinecrest Preschool and Children’s Center, $30,000;
Yellow Creek Day Care, $2,580;
Elkhart Community Schools, $5,000;
Elkhart County 4-H, $1,100;
Downtown Elkhart, $2,500; and
Edward Lowe Foundation, $2,050
Truth reporter Marlys Weaver-Stoesz contributed to this story.