Author Archives: Leanna

Spring Community Impact Grants total $45,940

The LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded Community Impact Grants totaling $45,940 in June to 11 projects and programs benefiting LaGrange County.

Through Community Impact Grants, the foundation aims to support nonprofit needs and provide innovative programs and services in LaGrange County.

Veterans Headstone Project was among the 11 organizations that received funding. The Community Foundation awarded Veterans Headstone Project $6,015 for the American Flag Holder Program – World War II, a project that identifies and repairs or replaces American flag holders. The grant will support the replacement or repair of 274 veteran’s gravesite flag holders.

The LaGrange County Historical Society also received a $5,000 matching grant to support the preservation of a stained glass window at the LaGrange County Historical Museum. Founded in 1967, the Historical Society maintains a collection of LaGrange County history at 109 South High Street in LaGrange. The grant will support the removal of a stained glass window on the south side of the building.  The next stage is to repair and reinstall the window. Kokomo Glass originally installed the stained glass windows in 1909.

Each year, the Community Foundation accepts proposals for charitable projects and programs that help local nonprofit organizations provide services to LaGrange County families and individuals. The Grants Advisory Committee reviews the submitted grant applications and made recommendations to the Board of the Directors who approve the grant awards. The grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the unrestricted and field of interest charitable funds at the Community Foundation. 

The 2020 Community Impact Grant Spring awards include:

In 2020, applications for the fall Community Impact Grants will be accepted on Sept. 3. Click here to learn more.

The LaGrange County Community Foundation’s mission is to inspire and sustain generosity, leadership and service. Founded in 1991, the Community Foundation connects people to charitable causes and provides resources to nonprofits to make a lasting and sustainable impact.

Make It Your Own Mural Fest

We have partnered with the LaGrange County Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring “Make It Your Own Mural Fest,” a regional mural festival that will bring 11 new murals to 11 counties of Northeast Indiana this September to LaGrange!

From now till July 11 we need your help in raising $3,000 to support a mural right here in LaGrange. 3Rivers Federal Credit Union will match every gift made through the campaign dollar for dollar (up to $1,500).

Click here to Give Now – Be sure to Choose LaGrange County

The Make It Your Own Mural Fest will take place over 11 days, September 11-18, 2020.

We are super excited to see this wall come alive with art!

Meet Our Summer Interns

We are extremely excited to have Kane Elkins and Shelbi Smith as our summer interns this year.

Kane Elkins, Internal Audit & Database Summer Intern

Kane Elkins graduated from Prairie Heights and is currently pursuing a double major in Accounting and Finance at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington. He will be aiding in our Internal Audit and updating our database.

Working at the Community Foundation is an amazing way for me to give back to the community that has shaped my life so far. Making a difference/impact on the people around me, whether they be strangers or friends, is an important aspect of my life that I am always chasing.

Kane Elkins

Kane enjoys reading and helping his twin brother race at Angola Motorsport Speedway every Saturday night, #28.

Shelbi Smith, Marketing and Media Summer Intern

Shelbi Smith, was born and raised in Shipshewana and graduated from Westview Jr./Sr. High School. Currently, she attends Grace College in Winona Lake, IN, pursuing a double major in Facility and Event Management and Marketing. Shelbi will be assisting with marketing and collecting donor biographies.

Working with the Foundation is really exciting because I will be able to put what I am learning to good use, all while continuing to learn and grow within my community.

Shelbi Smith

Shelbi enjoys road-tripping, finding unique coffee shops, and spending time with people she cares about.  

We are fortuitous to have these talented young adults living and working within our community!

Feel free to drop Kane or Shelbi an email. You may reach Kane at or Shelbi at

Friends of LaGrange County Parks Awarded NIPSCO Grant

The Friends of Lagrange County Parks was awarded $2,785 from the 2020 NIPSCO Environmental Action grants through NISource Charitable. The Friends of the LaGrange County Parks is a partner of the LaGrange County Community Foundation.

Pine Knob Park

The announcement was made to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  The support from this grant will enable the Friends of LaGrange County Parks working with the LaGrange County Parks Department and their Interpretive Naturalist to offer a water quality testing initiative available to all public, private, and parochial schools, as well as homeschool groups.  

The primary goal for this field trip opportunity is to get students outside, using their hands, sensing different ecosystems, and exercising their muscles by visiting Pine Knob Park, which has forest, lake, wetland, and prairie ecosystems all accessible by trail.  This is the ideal location for students to learn about the importance of and the differences of these ecosystems. 

Students can touch and smell and hear their surroundings.  They can connect to these ecosystems personally. 

The field trip will be divided into three rotations: wetland aquatic life study, water quality testing of Meteer Lake, and a prairie hike.  Students will get to use dip nets and look for macroinvertebrates as a sign of the healthiness of our wetland, test Meteer Lake for turbidity, and dissolved oxygen to determine what can or cannot live in the water, and learn about restoration and conservation by visiting the prairies.  They will learn about endangered species living in the special fen and test the water for pH to compare with Meteer Lake.  This will be a hands-on, adventuresome field trip offered in the spring or fall school year, with the initial start-up costs being funded through this grant. 

Students will gain an appreciation for the natural resources in LaGrange County, and gain a desire to care for them.

Leslie Arnold, LaGrange County Naturalist

The grant enables the Friends to purchase water quality testing equipment, eight canoes, paddles, and life jackets for use by students, assisted by their teachers and the Park Naturalist when visiting Pine Knob Park. 

Thank you also to Trading Post Outfitters of Mongo for assistance in purchasing the canoes.

For more information on NISource Foundation click here.

Mongo UMC Food Pantry

With the help from the community and United Way of Elkhart & LaGrange Counties, the LaGrange County Community Foundation was able to award $5,000 to the Mongo UMC Food Pantry.

Mongo UMC Food Pantry applied through the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants online system. Their award was granted within a week and they will now be able to continue to serve over 75 families on a weekly basis. As many of you are aware, Mongo is one of our smaller eastern communities with about 200 residents.

It was clear to the Grants Committee that they were in need.

We understand these times are difficult and the uncertainty in the air is thick.

We are certain of one thing – our Commitment to Serving YOU and our community remains steadfast.

McMillen Health serves 310 LaGrange County Students

McMillen Health provided 10 preventative health education program sessions at Lakeland High School and Westview High School. The focus for 2019 was opioid use and vaping.

McMillen Health was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation in 2019 to support their efforts. McMillen Health’s greatest strength in this effort includes providing fact-based health education that promotes positive health decisions youth carry into adulthood.

Serving 310 LaGrange County youth in grades 6-12 and 15 teachers and staff for a total of 325 lives touched through LaGrange County Community Foundation funding.

They liked identifying which was candy or vape juice. Every time I have a program come in I am impressed and have never had a bad experience. Speakers are engaging and energetic and knowledgeable.

Ms. Duff at Westview High School

McMillen Health is continually expanding its programs and funding sources. Receiving support from the LaGrange County Community Foundation, the Council for Drug-Free LaGrange County, the Cole Foundation, and the Dekko Foundation has enabled opportunities to meet the everchanging needs of LaGrange County students.

We can all give back.

Most of us, given the chance, want to leave a lasting reminder of the gratitude we feel for the institutions we love and support. It is a privilege to make a difference—to show, in some way, that we have contributed to important work or played a part in a cause that benefits LaGrange County, perhaps for generations to come. A Community Foundation is a vehicle for people of all means to make a lasting difference in their community.

We can all give back.

By serving the needs and generosity of donors who wish to better their community now and in the future, the community foundation provides flexible, efficient and tax-effective ways to ensure the greatest possible impact.

The concept of a community foundation is simple: build over time substantial endowment funds through contributions large and small.

What is an endowment? Assets invested for endurance to generate a permanent source of income.

The LaGrange County Community Foundation invests for total return, spend what is really earned, reinvest for inflation, and NEVER invades the principle.

Income from unrestricted funds is awarded through the Community Impact Grant program. Unrestricted funds are flexible and can support the most pressing needs in the community.

Want to learn more about endowments and your foundation, Octavia would love to meet you. Call 260.463.4363 or click here for more details.


National Standards Accreditation Affirms Our Commitment to Excellence

LaGrange County Community Foundation is pleased to announce that we have recently received accreditation with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®. This accreditation, signified by the Seal shown here, indicates that LaGrange County Community Foundation meets the highest standards for philanthropic excellence.

This is a significant accomplishment. When people trust LaGrange County Community Foundation with a charitable bequest, to establish a fund, or set up an annuity, they do it knowing that we have met rigorous standards for donor services, investment management, grantmaking and administration.

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director

We’ve always worked hard to do good, right here in LaGrange County. And we’ll continue to work with you to achieve your charitable goals. National Standards ensures that we have policies in place for financial stability and longevity, affirming our continued commitment to our donors, grantees, and community.

In short: We are a proven place to give.

The process of earning National Standards accreditation is arduous. The program requires community foundations to document our policies for donor services, investments, grantmaking, and administration. Our documentation was reviewed by a community foundation expert from a panel appointed by the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C.

The National Standards accreditation says this house is in order. It is excellent validation of the work we do on behalf of our donors and our community.

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director

With your help, LaGrange County Community Foundation has become a more effective partner for impacting the causes you care about. Thanks for working with us.

LaGrange County Community Foundation was accredited with National Standards in January of 2020.

We are Moving!

The LaGrange County Community Foundation acquired property on December 30 which, by the end of 2020, will become the new headquarters for the Foundation. 

We are thrilled to be able to increase the visibility and accessibility of the Community Foundation. We had been setting aside funds for several years, which allowed us to purchase the property using available cash – no mortgage was required.

Neal Wolheter, Board President

A portion of the cost of the building was funded using a gift the Foundation received at the beginning of 2019.  The remainder of the cost was funded using cash that had been set aside several years for this purpose.

The property, located at the intersection of US 20 and 250 W, contains over 4,000 square feet of space along with a parking lot of 6,000 square feet.  The Community Foundation expects to move into the new property sometime in the second half of 2020.

In addition to reduced operating costs, the new building will be more accessible to elderly and disabled patrons.  While the current Community Foundation headquarters is on the third floor of a building, at the new location all of the office space is on the same level and easily accessible using a ramp.

Greater visibility, lower costs and enhanced accessibility were the deciding factors, plus, the fact that we could finance the purchase without debt meant that this will be a great step forward and help the Community Foundation grow and prosper in the coming years.”

Octavia Yoder, Executive Director of the LaGrange County Community Foundation

The Community Foundation plans to sell their existing property, located at 109 E. Central Avenue. They hope that the sale of that property could be part of larger downtown development efforts in LaGrange.

Top 10 Reasons to Create an Endowment Fund

  1. Endowments are FOREVER
  2. The principle is never used, your fund will continue to grow
  3. Investments earn higher rates, which results in more money for grantmaking
  4. A lasting relationship with you and the LaGrange County community
  5. Positive impact now and forever
  6. You choose to be active or inactive in the grantmaking of your fund
  7. You can create a family tradition, working together to make recommendations for the use of your charitable fund
  8. Everyone wins when creating a fund at the LaGrange County Community Foundation, a greater need is met
  9. You provide guaranteed ongoing support for grant programs and the fees generated from endowed funds aide in planning, budgeting and general operations of the Community Foundation
  10. Great Investment and a Postive Force in our community

Contact Octavia today to create your endowded family legacy!