Grant dollars provide a huge impact across Jackson County. Recipients attest to their effect.

“Volunteers are the heart and soul of our mentoring programs,” Executive Director Kate Eder of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana said. “Volunteers serve as our ‘Bigs,’ acting as positive, reliable role models for children who do not have many appropriate influences in their lives. Last year’s grant helped us connect more Bigs and Littles.”

The Seymour-based agency received a $2,000 Community Foundation of Jackson County Fall Grant last year to help fund the agency’s mentoring recruitment program. The effort targets people age 18 and older to serve as positive role models and mentors for children who don’t have such positive influences in their lives.

The agency provided Big Brothers Big Sisters T-shirts to participants to help spread the word about the program.

“We also were able to produce new recruitment materials to encourage volunteer participation in our mentoring programs,” Eder added.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters grant was among 18 grants awarded last autumn to nonprofits and other qualified agencies through the fall grant cycle.

The staff at the foundation and our 20-member board of directors, with a little help from other community volunteers, do our best to prudently administer more than $10 million in assets to generate earnings that are granted for scholarships, classroom education grants, community impact grants and our fall grants cycle.

Work on this year’s fall grants is already under way. Over the next several weeks, foundation Vice President Sue Smith and I will answer questions, review drafts and accept applications. Forms are available online at cfjacksoncounty.org. The deadline for receiving applications is July 31.

Once the deadline passes – there are no extensions – Sue will review the applications for compliance (all applications must involve 501(c)3 organizations or governmental units) and then our grant committee, which consists of Board members and community volunteers, will conduct site visits to review the applicants’ requests.

Two factors that can play a role in determining grants include whether a nonprofit organization’s board is engaged financially and whether other funding sources are being pursued for the project. We like to see board members with skin in the game, and we support the concept of bringing funding partners together to deal with community issues and needs collectively.

Once site visits are completed, the foundation staff and grant committee convene to determine which applications will be awarded grants. This will take place in September, and our full board of directors will consider the recommendations in October. While we’d like to say every organization that applies receives funding, we can’t.

Last year, for example, the foundation approved 18 fall grants totaling $38,167 with earnings from unrestricted and field of interest funds. Other grant requests, however, were denied. There simply weren’t enough grant dollars.

This year, the foundation doard of directors approved a granting rate that will pay out more than $315,000 in grants from scholarship funds, donor advised funds, designated funds, agency funds and unrestricted funds. That includes more than $38,000 for the fall grant cycle.

We hope to see the amount of earnings available for scholarships and grant opportunities bump up in the next couple of years because of our success in bringing in more than $1 million in newly endowed gifts through the Lilly Endowment GIFT VI program, which wrapped up in 2016.

And your gifts, of course, can help make those grant dollars grow, too. If you would like to donate to any of the Foundation’s endowed funds or to create your own fund, call me at 812-523-4483. We can discuss your interest in helping others in the community and how to make your assistance a reality.

Right now, as the foundation celebrates our 25th anniversary, gifts of more than $500 to new or existing endowed funds can earn match dollars.

Your endowed gifts can, through prudent investment, generate earnings for scholarships, classroom education grants, fall grants, agency grants and community impact grants to help people all across Jackson County. Over and over, year after year.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 140 funds with total assets of more than $11 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to president@cfjacksoncounty.org.