Community Foundation awards more than $93,000 in grants

The Community Foundation of Jackson County recently approved 19 grants through its 2021 fall grant cycle.

Two of those grants strive to help the community lift area residents out of or off the cusp of poverty. Another will help feed children enrolled in Jackson County schools. And yet two others will provide children and family activities at area parks.

The 19 grants recently awarded through the competitive fall grant program totaled $93,173. Last year, the foundation approved 18 such grants totaling $84,676.

Those grant dollars are spread across Jackson County, said Trish Butt, chairwoman of the foundation’s grant committee.

“That is one of our goals as we review grant applications,” she said. “The foundation truly is the Community Foundation of Jackson County. Our list of donors reflects that, and so does our list of grant recipients year after year.”

The foundation approved a $7,500 grant to Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour for its efforts with its Pathways program and a $4,000 grant to Jackson County United Way for its work with holistic financial stability education programming and staging of a poverty simulation in the summer of 2022.

The foundation has partnered with United Way, Anchor House and other agencies in an effort to combat poverty and its impact across Jackson County.

United Way aims to move families living in or near poverty into the middle class, in part by helping them learn to become more financially stable.

“Our anticipated outcomes are to break down the communication barriers between poverty and middle class citizens, to form connections between residents and not only identify the path but lead families from the 39% of Jackson County residents living in poverty down the path of financial stability,” Executive Director Maci Baurle said.

The poverty simulation will continue work started with two presentations in 2019 that were funded with grant dollars from the foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT VII initiative. The simulations attempt to bridge the gap between those in poverty and those not in poverty.

“The idea is to educate middle and upper class individuals about the realities of poverty, follow up with debrief about the experience and offer action steps they can pursue to implement change that might benefit their neighbors,” Jena Hanks of United Way said.

The work is important, Baurle said, because a “community only thrives if their people are.”

The grant to Anchor House will help the community’s homeless shelter deliver programming and mentoring aimed at addressing barriers to independence and offer resources to support individuals and families transitioning from the emergency and family homeless shelters into independent living situations for up to six months.

“By providing these resources to clients from intake to post-transition, Anchor House provides more than temporary shelter. It provides continued support to create lasting change and reduce the need for a return to services or homelessness,” Anchor House Executive Director Megan Cherry said.

“One criticism of emergency shelter program is the fear that providing temporary emergency housing does little to address long-term, inherent barriers to independence,” Cherry added. “Families who are in crisis after spending a few weeks or months in a program risk a return to homelessness if they suffer a further setback. The Barriers to Bridges programming addresses the root causes of clients’ crises, creates a client decision-oriented strategy to address those barriers and problem-solving for unforeseen setbacks.”

Those new skills should help keep them from stepping back into homelessness, she said.

The foundation also approved a grant of $7,500 to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to help fund its school-based pantry program to help students and their families struggling with the issue of food insecurity.

Haley Nagila of Gleaners reported in its grant application that the rate of child food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic increased a staggering 40%, meaning an additional 630 children were experiencing chronic hunger in Jackson County.

Gleaners has established school-based pantries at Brownstown Central High School, Seymour High School and Medora Junior-Senior High School. All are open to the public.

The agency expects that during the 2021-22 school year the program will serve at least 130 duplicated households each month of operation, distribute 50,000 meals to the food insecure in Jackson County and provide 10,000 pounds of produce to the food insecure.

“This program alleviates a significant financial and emotional burden on students and families struggling to budget for monthly food supplies,” Nagila said.

The menu items and fresh produce supplied through the school-based pantry program provide a healthy dose of nutrients to promote a healthy lifestyle for clients who often lack access of essential nutrients, she added.

The foundation also approved two grants what will enhance family activities at two of Seymour’s parks.

An $8,000 grant to The Arc of Jackson County will help provide handicapped-accessible playground equipment and flooring at Gaiser Park, and a $7,500 grant to the Jackson County Public Library will provide for the installation of a story stroll at Shields Park.

A story stroll includes the placement of pages from a children’s book along a public walking path, promoting literacy and positive physical activity while engaging children and their families and caregivers.

A partner in the project, Seymour Community School Corp., will provide a Spanish translation of the pages as a volunteer opportunity for high school students, library Director Julia Aker said.

These grants along with the others cover a wide area of impact across Jackson County, foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Davis said.

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

Earnings from community and field of interest funds generated through prudent investment of the endowed gifts from individuals and businesses fund the fall grant cycle.

A portion of the earnings from those investments remains in the endowed funds to protect against inflation.

Grants approved 

The following grants were approved by the Community Foundation of Jackson County:

Actors Community Theater of Seymour, $2,500 for new flats, platforms, outside signage and paint.

Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, $7,500 for the Barriers to Bridges program.

The Arc of Jackson County, $8,000 for handicap-accessible playground equipment and flooring at Gaiser Park in Seymour.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana, $1,533 for a computer for a new program coordinator in Jackson County.

Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, $5,196 for junior staff and building workforce readiness.

Community Provisions of Jackson County, $1,500 for repairs to sidewalk, LED lighting and ventilation system.

Englishton Park, $2,000 for camp tuition for Jackson County youth.

Everyday Connections, $1,750 for the Social Connections program.

Girls Inc. of Jackson County, $1,000, for the Friendly PEERsuasion program.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc., $7,500, for the school-based pantry program for Jackson County schools.

Jackson County History Center, $5,625 as matching funds for an Indiana Historical Society grant of $37,500.

Jackson County Public Library, $7,500 to build a story stroll in Shields Park.

Jackson County United Way, $4,000 for holistic financial stability education.

Mental Health America of Jackson County, $11,299 for mental health initiatives in Jackson County.

Riverview Cemetery, $4,000 for removal of ash and other old trees.

Seymour Museum Center, $7,500 for HVAC units at the museum.

Seymour Municipal Airport Authority, $8,000 to establish an endowment fund, the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Endowment.

Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, $3,500 to upgrade facility into a traditional art gallery and classroom space.

Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, $3,270 for two laptop computers for Jackson County case managers.

Unrestricted funds 

The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following unrestricted endowed funds: Aisin USA Mfg. Inc. Endowment; Donn Bishop Memorial Endowment; 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 Trust Co. Fund; Larry and Joanne Sunbury Community Endowment; Michael and Ardith Fleetwood Unrestricted Endowment; Nehrt Family Community Endowment; Mary Evelyn Mellencamp Memorial Fund; Mark and Sue Smith Community Endowment; Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 Community Fund; John and Kay Beatty Community Endowment; Seymour Oktoberfest Community Endowment; Sarah M. Waldkoetter Community Fund; Schneider Nursery Community Endowment; Jackson Lodge 146 F and AM Endowment; Helen and Bill Swain Community Endowment; J.B. and Carrie Hackman Community Fund; Bob Poynter GM Community Fund; Donald J. Klaes Community Endowment; and Cathy Grant Schneider Community Endowment.

Field of interest funds 

The Community Foundation of Jackson County administers the following field of interest funds: 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; Jackson County Youth Foundation; and Donald J. Klaes Music the Performing Arts Fund.

Donor-advised fund 

One other fund administered by the foundation contributed earnings for the 2021 fall grant cycle the Orville and Mary Schnitker Memorial Endowment.