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Editorial: Heritage Fund assets growth lead to strong community

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The county’s largest community foundation is in the middle of a five-year effort to raise an additional $20 million in assets by 2018.

This goal, set by the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, is an ambitious one — but also a beneficial one that will support area residents.

Heritage Fund provides gifts and grants to nonprofit organizations in the county, funded through donations and fundraising efforts. Heritage Fund had $53.8 million in assets at the end of 2012, so it didn’t have to take on this project. Thankfully, it did, however.

With the winding down of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, which for decades was instrumental in supporting community projects and nonprofit organizations, the Heritage Fund’s role in the community has taken on even greater significance. The foundation started the asset development campaign last year in an effort to offer more grants and scholarships, such as Welcoming Community grants and prekindergarten scholarships.

Initial results of the asset development campaign show that it’s moving ahead well and is being helped by generous donors. The foundation reported its assets at $61.6 million by the end of 2013 and said it already has raised about one-third of its $20 million goal. Heritage Fund received $2.73 million in new cash gifts and $4 million in estate and non-cash gifts in the past year.

The foundation’s Not-for-Profit Endowment Challenge also has played a role in boosting its assets. Heritage Fund asked organizations to grow their endowment funds by raising $10,000 in order to earn matching funds from the foundation. That resulted in 10 organizations increasing their endowments.

Most importantly, Heritage Fund has helped a lot of organizations and people in the past year. Here are some examples:

More than 400 grants were awarded, totaling $3.09 million.

The foundation’s Community Fund awarded $515,000 to support 125 nonprofit organizations.

Ninety students received a total of $313,000 in scholarships.

$50,000 was given in scholarships to private preschools for 4-year-olds in financial need to prepare for kindergarten.

$40,000 was granted to the Welcoming Community Arts, Culture and Design Grant program.

That’s a significant amount of money helping organizations that work to make life better for county residents.

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