Foundation’s fund drive needs push to meet goal

The Jennings County Community Foundation wants to make an impact in the lives of local residents, which is why it’s eager to succeed in a grant-matching initiative.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is giving away $66 million to help community foundations in Indiana grow their endowments for local grants. Jennings County has been promised $250,000 if it can raise $250,000 in undesignated funds — those that can be used for any purpose.

“It gives us a lot more flexibility to help organizations in the community,” said Barb Shaw, executive director of the foundation, which opened in the mid-1990s.

The foundation has raised most of its portion, but still needs $52,900 by the March 31 deadline to be successful, Shaw said.

“It’s been challenging and is still a challenge,” said Kathryn Johnson, the foundation’s assistant committee chair for the matching fund drive. “A lot of board members have helped. A lot in the community have stepped up to the plate and helped as well. They’re helping the community for the long term.

“We’ve been going to the community and asking individuals and organizations for support. Some are mailings and others we contact in person,” Johnson added.

Most grants have been in the $1,000 to $5,000 range, while the largest has been $35,000, Shaw said.

Jennings County has a lot of needs, Shaw said, such as improving the homeless shelter in North Vernon and aiding disaster relief.

With the Lilly funding, the Jennings County Community Foundation could give grants of greater amounts to community nonprofits, Shaw said.

Typically, the foundation awards $400,000 to $500,000 each year in grants, most of which are $10,000 competitive grants, Shaw said.

Last year, 102 scholarships were awarded to Jennings County students, she added. Past grants have aided domestic violence awareness and prevention, renovation of the Park Theatre Civic Centre and the Hayden Historical Museum, for example.

How to help

To contribute to the Jennings County Community Foundation’s “March to the Match” fund drive:

Go online at jenningsfoundation.net/donation.php

Make a check out to the Jennings County Community Foundation and note that it is for the Lilly match. The foundation’s mailing address is 111 N. State St., North Vernon, IN 47265.

Call the foundation at 812-346-5553 or send an email to jccf@jenningsfoundation.net.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.