Grants make community impact


The Community Foundation of Jackson County is in the business of encouraging philanthropy and granting money to help programs and the people they serve in our community.

When I started with the foundation five short years ago, my predecessor, Bud Walther, who has since moved back home to Louisville, assured me that I’d soon learn giving away money isn’t as easy as it looks. My eyebrows raised and quite possibly my left eye squinted just a bit, perhaps betraying that I wasn’t quite sure how that could be true.

Soon, however, I learned he was correct. Bud was right. Giving away money — at least wisely — isn’t easy.

Nevertheless, 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 $11 million in assets to generate earnings that are granted for scholarships, classroom education grants, community impact grants and what we call our fall grant cycle.

The fall grants make an impact across Jackson County. Last year, for instance, fall grants were awarded in Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora, Seymour and points in between. Points like Cortland, Dudleytown and Redding Township.

Work on this year’s fall grant cycle is already underway. 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 The deadline for receiving applications is July 31. Sorry, no extensions.

Once the deadline passes and Sue reviews them for compliance (all applications must involve 501(c)3 organizations or governmental units), our grant committee, which consists of nine board members and one or two community volunteers, will conduct site visits to investigate the applicants’ requests and their need.

Two factors that can play a large role in determining grants include whether a non-profit 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.

Once the site visits are completed, the foundation staff and grant committee convene to determine which applications will be recommended for grants. This will take place in September, and our 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 20 fall grants totaling $32,536. Earnings from all of the foundation’s unrestricted funds generated $26,418 of what was granted. The rest came from field of interest funds and three other funds, the Immanuel United Church of Christ Vernon Township Community Endowment, the Schneider Nursery Inc. Unrestricted Community Fund and the Orville and Mary Schnitker Memorial Endowment.

Six other grant requests were denied last fall.

This year, the foundation’s board of directors approved a granting rate that will pay out more than $437,000 in grants from scholarship funds, donor advised funds, designated funds, agency funds and unrestricted funds. That’s slightly up from $433,000 approved for 2018.

We hope to see the amount of earnings available for scholarships, the fall grant cycle and other grant opportunities bump up in the next couple of years because of our success in bringing in more than $750,000 in gifts and pledges last fall through the Lilly Endowment GIFT VII match program that we wrapped up Dec. 31.

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

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. Forever.

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You can make gifts to the community funds and field of interest funds administered by the Community Foundation of Jackson County. They include:

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 & 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 & 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 & Sue Smith Community Endowment; Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 Community Fund; the Schneider Nursery Community Endowment; the John and Kay Beatty Community Endowment; and the Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment.

Field of interest funds

The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following field of interest funds: The Cartwright Endowment for the Arts (performing arts); Granger H. and Ruth M. Smith Drug Abuse Prevention Fund; Carl Hemmer Memorial Fund (performing arts); Tri Kappa Endowment (charity, culture and education); The Shelter Fund (homelessness); Nippon Steel Pipe America Inc. Charitable Endowment for Education; and the Jackson County Youth Foundation.


Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with 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 Dan Davis at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].

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