Oktoberfest creates community fund at foundation

Tribune Staff Reports

For years, Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. has provided grants to the community from its income generated through the annual festival that fills downtown city streets with fun, food and activities.

It has long been a way of paying back to the community that supports Seymour Oktoberfest.

In the past, Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. has made grants to various nonprofits in Jackson County, purchased items such as the bleachers used by the city of Seymour for community events and supported other local festivals such as the Crossroads Acoustic Festival.

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The Seymour Oktoberfest board of directors remains committed to supporting the communities of Jackson County.

With that in mind, the organization created a community fund this winter at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

The $25,000 gift was matched by $50,000 available through the GIFT VII initiative funded through Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by the foundation.

That means the new fund, the Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment, will make grants into the community in the name of Seymour Oktoberfest through the foundation’s fall grant cycle. Because the fund is endowed, only earnings on the fund will be spent, allowing the fund to finance grants in perpetuity.

“For our organization, the Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment is a great opportunity to emphasize our commitment to promoting community cooperation and progress in Jackson County,” said Ben Stahl, president of Seymour Oktoberfest Inc.

“Even more so, the endowment fund is about securing our legacy,” Stahl said. “Thanks to the support of the community, our festival is entering its 47th year. We are blessed to have reached this milestone, and we hope to carry this tradition on for many years to come. Through the endowment fund, we are making a commitment to having a positive impact on Jackson County even if our festival one day comes to an end.”

The foundation is pleased to be able to help Seymour Oktoberfest meet its goal of continuing to support nonprofits in the community, President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Davis said.

“The Community Foundation of Jackson County is in a good position to receive grant applications, review them and help make certain that grant dollars help advance life and help make a difference in Jackson County,” Davis said. “We appreciate the confidence that Seymour Oktoberfest places in the foundation and that it values the work we do. More so, we appreciate the group’s desire to help others.”

The Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment will make its first grants during the fall grant cycle in 2020. New funds are given a full year to grow before paying out their first grants.

“It helps protect the original gift’s value over the years,” Davis said.

The Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. gift to the foundation came through the organization’s granting process.

“We are happy that the Oktoberfest fund could benefit from the GIFT VII initiative, a generous opportunity made available from the folks at Lilly Endowment Inc.,” Davis said.

Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. intends to make future gifts to the fund, but others can donate to the fund, as well. For information, contact the foundation at 812-523-4483 or go online at cfjacksoncounty.org.

The foundation strives to help nonprofits and local communities make a positive impact on their community through the fall grant cycle in a way that donors intended with their gifts.

“The foundation’s grant committee, board of directors and staff work hard to ensure that our community and field of interest earnings provide as large an impact as possible throughout Jackson County,” Davis said.

The grant committee strives to ensure grant dollars reach across Jackson County, said Priscilla Wischmeier, chairwoman of the foundation’s board of directors. She also serves as chairwoman of the grant committee.

Last fall, for instance, the foundation approved grants that will assist projects and programs in Brownstown, Crothersville, Dudleytown, Hamilton Township, Medora, Redding Township and Seymour as well as places in between, Wischmeier said.

Earnings from community and field of interest funds are generated through prudent investment of the endowed gifts from individuals and businesses. A portion of the earnings from those investments remain in the endowed funds to protect against inflation, while other earnings become grant dollars that are awarded through the fall grant cycle, impact grants and classroom education grants.

The Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment was one of six new funds created through the GIFT VII matching program, helping the foundation earn $500,000 in match funds from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The initiative was announced Oct. 10, and the foundation earned its full $500,000 in match dollars through gifts and pledges into those six new funds and eight other existing community funds.

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About Seymour Oktoberfest

Seymour Oktoberfest Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization managed by community volunteers.

The first Seymour Oktoberfest was in 1973.

The 47th annual Seymour Oktoberfest will be Oct. 3 through 5

Information can be found at seymouroktoberfest.com.

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Unrestricted funds

The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following endowed community funds: Aisin U.S.A. Mfg. Inc. Endowment; the Donn Bishop Memorial Endowment; the Don Bollinger Memorial Fund; Jackson County Community Endowment; Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment; Bob and Kate Hall Endowment; Thomas J. Lantz/Montgomery, Elsner and Pardieck Community Endowment; Psi Iota Xi Sorority, Alpha Beta Chapter Endowment; Potts Family Endowment; SIHO Insurance Services Community Endowment; Virginia G. Otto Endowment Fund; Irwin Union Bank and Trust Co. Fund; the Larry and Joanne Sunbury Community Endowment; the Michael and Ardith Fleetwood Unrestricted Endowment; the Nehrt Family Community Endowment; the Mary Evelyn Mellencamp Memorial Fund; the Mark and Sue Smith Community Endowment; the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 Community Fund; the Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment; the Schneider Nursery Community Endowment; and the John and Kay Beatty Community Endowment.