Community foundation reaches goal

Tribune staff reports

The Community Foundation of Jackson County has raised more than $1 million to boost its local grants and scholarships.

In less than a year, the foundation secured $540,862 in local donations and pledges. That amount was matched with another $500,000 from the Lilly Endowment through the Lilly GIFT VI initiative, which kicked off in August.

The money will increase the foundation’s grant-making capabilities by $40,000 annually, depending on interest earnings, said Dan Davis, president and CEO of the foundation.

The foundation awards scholarships to area high school and college students, Classroom Education Grants to teachers in Jackson County, agency grants to local nonprofit groups and Community Impact grants to projects that help make a difference in the community.

Recent gifts to the foundation along with the Lilly grant increased the assets of several of the foundation’s existing endowment funds and created five new funds, Davis said.

Denise Connell, chairwoman of the foundation’s board, said she wasn’t surprised by the community’s generosity but was impressed by the short time it took to raise the money.

“I think it speaks well of the appreciation for and understanding of the valuable work that the foundation does with the community’s generous gifts to improve life in Jackson County,” she said.

A total of 208 individuals, businesses and organizations donated through the GIFT IV initiative to help the foundation receive the matching Lilly grant. Donors included longtime supporters of the foundation, area businesses and new donors.

The Lilly Endowment helped start the community foundation in 1992.

“In the years since, it has continued to help our foundation grow and to benefit people and programs all around Jackson County,” Davis said.

This year, the Community Foundation of Jackson County will distribute $328,073 from scholarship funds, donor-advised funds, designated funds, agency funds and unrestricted funds. That’s up from $299,000 approved for 2014. It can be expected to grow in coming years as a result of the GIFT VI initiative, Davis added.

A bulk of the new gifts and matching grant dollars will increase the foundation’s unrestricted funds. Among unrestricted endowments are two new funds created through GIFT IV, including the Michael and Ardith Fleetwood Unrestricted Endowment.

“We wanted to establish an unrestricted fund to provide for general grant-making to help the community foundation continue to identify and address needs in our county,” Mike Fleetwood, of Seymour, said of his family’s decision to start the fund.

“Unrestricted funds are critical to ensuring that the Community Foundation can work to positively impact our community,” he added. “Unrestricted funds provide the greatest flexibility in impacting developing and current issues facing this area.”

Fleetwood served 10 years on the foundation’s board before stepping down. He rejoined the board in April and serves as director-in-charge of Blue & Co. in Seymour.

The Fleetwoods maintain that making charitable donations and volunteering in the community are a responsibility of those who live here.

“We believe that each of us has a responsibility to give back in some way to our community,” Ardith Fleetwood said. “Whether that be our time or our financial support, we all have a shared responsibility to work to improve where we live.”

Mike Fleetwood added, “Jackson County is a reflection of all of the past efforts of others, and we feel strongly that our current efforts should also be invested to continue to ensure the development and improvement of this county.”

Another fund established through GIFT VI dollars is the Orville and Laura Lubker/Purdue University Scholarship Fund. The Lubkers, retirees from the Brownstown area, created the fund to give back to the community and benefit Brownstown Central High School graduating seniors who plan to attend Purdue University.

Orville Lubker, a 1952 graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, was a teacher and guidance counselor for many years at Crothersville, Tampico and Brownstown schools.

“We have always valued education, and the scholarship is a way of giving back to the community where we have lived, worked and done business,” Laura Lubker said of why they decided to establish the scholarship fund.

“I think it’s a good chance to honor students at Brownstown who work hard for their grades but who may not have the highest scores and who have a financial need,” Orville Lubker said of the scholarship. “With the cost of college these days, most everyone probably has some sort of need.”

By the numbers

208: The number of individuals, businesses and organizations that made donations through the Lilly Endowment GIFT IV initiative.

$540,862: The total of gifts and pledges through the program.

$500,000: Total of matching dollars from Lilly Endowment

$1,040,862: Total of newly endowed dollars

$226,234: Total of new gifts into unrestricted funds

$314,628: Total of new gifts to other funds

At a glance

About the Community Foundation of Jackson County:

  • The foundation administers more than 140 funds with assets of more than $10 million.
  • It was created in 1992 and distributed its first grants to the community in 1994.
  • Grants from the foundation total more than $5 million.

For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the foundation or how you can start a fund, call 812-523-4483 or email Dan Davis at president@cfjacksoncounty.org.