Monthly Archives: April 2024

LIFE grants support LaGrange County youth projects

LIFE members volunteer at The Waters in LaGrange.

LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded ten LIFE grants totaling $17,495 to area organizations and schools during its 2024 LIFE grant cycle.

The grants will support educational and youth projects in LaGrange County.

LIFE is a youth philanthropy program of the LaGrange County Community Foundation. Members represent Lakeland, Westview and Prairie Heights High Schools, with one representative from each class in 9th-12th grades.

The students learn about philanthropy and charitable giving and are responsible for reviewing and making funding recommendations for the LIFE funds at the Foundation.

“Grants awarded through the LIFE program provide members with grantmaking and charitable giving experience. They connect with programs active in our community and financially support them through this competitive grant program,” said Leanna Martin, Community Foundation Program Director and LIFE Navigator. “It’s an excellent way for youth to be a part of the bigger picture within LaGrange County.”

Prairie Heights High School received a grant of $1,050 to help purchase professional style mixers for its culinary program. The program is in its second year at Prairie Heights, with nearly 60 students enrolled in the Culinary Arts career pathway. The culinary students have catered meals for athletic teams, provided refreshments for dances and made muffins and cookies for the food service at Prairie Heights.

Westview Elementary School also received a grant of $1,800 to help purchase display boards for the Westview Elementary Art Show.

Additional 2024 LIFE Grant recipients include:

  • Community Harvest Food Bank, “Kids BackPack and TeenPak Hunger Relief Initiative,” $2,500;
  • Crossroads United Way, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library LaGrange County,” $2,500;
  • LaGrange County Department of Parks & Recreation, “Adventure Bound 2024,” $2,500;
  • Prairie Heights Football Boosters, “Prairie Heights Football Annual Free Youth Camp,” $1,800.
  • Westview Elementary School, “Personal Hygiene Supply Packs,” $2,020;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “aMAYzing Crew (technology),” $2,125;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “Oakley’s Cardio Drumming Squad,” $700; and
  • Youth for Christ Northern Indiana, “Westview Campus Life,” $500.

Each school year, LIFE seeks proposals for youth programs serving youth in LaGrange County. LIFE members review the submitted grant applications and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who approve the grant awards.

These grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the LIFE Grantmaking Fund at the Community Foundation.

LaGrange County Community Foundation receives $750,000 Lilly Endowment Matching Grant

LaGrange County Community Foundation has received a matching fund grant totaling $750,000 as part of the eighth phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s initiative, Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VIII).

LaGrange County Community Foundation will use the funding to further develop its unrestricted fund – the Caring Community Fund – and to support the development of the Hawpatch Trail in Topeka.

Lilly Endowment will provide $2 for every $1 contributed to LaGrange County Community Foundation’s Caring Community Fund and unrestricted funds through December 31, 2025. The Caring Community Fund and unrestricted funds help address current opportunities and challenges in LaGrange County.

Lilly Endowment will also provide $1 for every $1 contributed to the Hawpatch Trail Fund at the LaGrange County Community Foundation through December 31, 2025. The Foundation is supporting LaGrange County Trails’ effort to develop a biking and walking trail in Topeka on the former Wabash Railroad. Gifts to the Hawpatch Trail Fund will support trail development as the group acquires the property, completes survey work, and begins engineering for construction of the trail. Gifts to the Hawpatch Trail Fund will be matched up to $225,000.

LaGrange County Trails seeks to build the Hawpatch Trail in Topeka on the former Wabash Railroad line.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for the continued generous support of community foundations in Indiana, including LaGrange County. With local contributions and the Lilly Endowment match we will add $787,500 to LCCF’s unrestricted funds and $450,000 for the development of the Hawpatch Trail,” said Executive Director Octavia Yoder. “One of the key opportunities in LaGrange County’s comprehensive plan is the further development of multi-use trails in LaGrange County. This is pivotal opportunity to support the development of a trail that will greatly enhance the quality of life in southern LaGrange County.”

“We are thankful for the opportunity to grow long term assets for LaGrange County and to continue to meet nonprofit and community needs. GIFT VIII represents a unique opportunity to triple the value of a donation,” Yoder added.

Donors can also establish a named unrestricted endowment fund with a qualifying gift of $3,500. Donors interested in receiving a $2 for $1 match on a donation should contact Executive Director Octavia Yoder.

Through GIFT VIII Lilly Endowment has awarded matching fund grants totaling $133.8 million to community foundations serving all 92 of Indiana’s counties. Eligible community foundations submitted proposals requesting grants ranging from $100,000 to $15,000,000 based on the population of the counties they serve.

In 2023, Lilly Endowment launched GIFT VIII to help community foundations strengthen the towns, cities and counties they serve. Matching fund grants are one several funding opportunities designed to help community foundations promote long-term viability; further strengthen their abilities to lead; encourage board engagement; and support and develop strategic efforts to enhance quality of life in their communities.

McBride joins Community Foundation team

Jennifer McBride serves as our Office and Scholarship Manager. Her role primarily focuses on the Foundation’s daily operations, greeting visitors, processing donor gifts, coordinating board and committee meetings, as well as managing the Foundation’s scholarship programs.  

McBride holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Trine University. She worked for LaGrange County government for 17 years, and previously worked at the Town of Shipshewana. One of her passions is reaching and serving youth – she has been a dedicated volunteer in church youth group programs for the past several decades.

McBride is a lifelong LaGrange County resident and lives in Howe with her husband, Rick. She has three children and three grandchildren.

McBride volunteered as a scholarship evaluator for the Foundation’s Community Scholarship Program in the past and was eager to dive into her new role this February. She is responsible for building and managing the online applications, promoting opportunities to local youth, coordinating volunteer evaluators, and presenting the final awards to students.

She is excited to be a part of the Community Foundation team.

“My heart is for the people of the community,” McBride said. “I enjoy being able to help others,” she added.