Celebrating community support, work

Four years ago, Child Care Network and the Community Foundation of Jackson County joined forces and commitment to create a 100-plus seat child care center in Jackson County, part of efforts to obtain funding through the Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT VII program.

Just in time for Christmas in 2020, we received word from Lilly Endowment that it had approved a $1.8 million grant for the foundation to help finance the Child Care Network project.

Speed on through the following two years and the bumps of a continuing COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting higher costs for construction materials, furnishings, kitchen appliances and other items associated with a construction remodel, and you arrive at January 2023.

That is when Child Care Network really did it. They opened the 100-plus-seat child care center in the former Seymour Christian Church at Fifth and Chestnut streets downtown.

Now, parents with newborns and youngsters as old as 5 have a new, wonderful place to receive high-quality child care. Families struggling financially can receive a stipend to help cover the fees, a stipend also funded through that Lilly grant.

Stories like this are among the many reasons why the foundation joins more than 900 other community foundations across America to mark Community Foundation Week, set this year for Nov. 12-18.

Our goal in participating is to raise awareness about the role of philanthropy and to foster local collaborations and innovations to address persistent civic and economic challenges — including poverty and the lack of child care — in our community.

The foundation serves all of Jackson County, from Reddington to Crothersville to Medora to Freetown to Seymour and all points in between, including Brownstown. A check of our grant and scholarship recipients easily illustrates that point.

Launched Nov. 12, 1989, through a proclamation by former President George H.W. Bush, the first Community Foundation Week included a congressional briefing about the work of community foundations throughout the nation and their collaborative approach to working with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to address community challenges. The first community foundation was established in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Community foundations in Indiana alone made more than $194 million in grants in 2020 and held more than $4.3 billion in assets. Your Community Foundation of Jackson County manages more than $16 million in assets. Last year, it awarded $899,595 in grants and scholarships.

Former Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson once described the role of community foundations this way: “Community foundations in Indiana play a key role in identifying and solving problems across our state. Each foundation has an in-depth knowledge of local concerns which enables them to effectively address the root of many issues. They are the drivers of community enhancements and push our state forward.”

The Community Foundation of Jackson County tries to live up to that description through our prudent stewardship of gifts, our annual grant-making cycles, our Impact Grants, our scholarship program and our involvement in the community, including our support in the creation and construction of the Jackson County Learning Center, our work with the Jackson County Education Coalition and our grant dollars to help Child Care Network create a community child-care center.

Since its founding in 1992, the Community Foundation of Jackson County has awarded more than $12 million in grants to local organizations and scholarships to hundreds of students to help them pursue their educational dreams. As of October 31, we had awarded more than $894,000 in grants and scholarships so far this year.

The foundation is an advocate for local philanthropy, providing opportunities for donors to make a difference in their own unique ways through charitable giving. Gifts that can keep on giving, perpetually. The foundation celebrates the rich past of Jackson County and looks to a bright future. And as our motto says: “Together, we grow tomorrows.”

Our staff and board of directors, made up of 20 individuals from throughout Jackson County, invite you to explore our website, cfjacksoncounty.org. You’ll access a wealth of information about our organization, our current funds, our grant cycles and how you, too, can become a donor and help make a difference. If you would like, please call to make an appointment to visit with us at our offices.

Our work — funded through the gifts of people like you — help make a difference in the lives of countless people across Jackson County.

As we enter the giving season, millions of people from every background will be looking to give back to the communities that have supported them. They’ll also look to ensure that their heartfelt giving — however they choose to give — will have the most impact. And a lasting impact. That’s why so many of them will choose to give to a community foundation.

A gift to your local community foundation is an investment in the future of your community. We like to say that community foundations are “here for good.” At the Community Foundation of Jackson County, we don’t think about the next election or business cycle, we think about the next generation and the next after that.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected].