Community Foundation: Important work in the county


By Pam Acton and Melissa Andrew


In 1914, Cleveland lawyer and banker Frederick H. Geoff established the very first community foundation. His vision was to pool the charitable resources of community members of all means into a single, great and permanent endowment for the benefit of all.

One hundred years later, the Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc. (CFSCI) is one of more than 700 community foundations in the United States. While CFSCI is only 17 years old, we have assets of approximately $11 million and have made grants of more than $3 million to many worthwhile charitable projects in Switzerland County.

This year brought about both some predictable and unpredictable endeavors for CFSCI. The year started out typical. Grants were paid out from our designated endowments, which equated to $135,000 being awarded to specific charitable organizations as determined by the donors establishing the endowments.

Staff stayed busy administering both a competitive grants and scholarship program, which enabled us to award over $100,000 back into the community.

This year’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship was awarded to Robin Furnish.

During the summer, CFSCI was fortunate enough to have two interns through the Community Foundation Internships program offered by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Both Allie Mathews and Logan Todd worked on several different projects throughout their 10 weeks of service and assisted our staff tremendously. At the end of the summer, CFSCI learned that Lilly Endowment Inc. was offering its sixth Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative.

This initiative was designed so community foundations could better respond to critical needs as they evolve in their counties, as well as improve the quality of life of its citizens.

During the last part of 2014, CFSCI began the process of implementing new cloud-based software which integrates all essential functions for community foundations. While there will be unlimited possibilities with the software, staff still has a lot to learn on how to use it. CFSCI also coordinated the local food pantry for the last three months of the year while it’s in a transitional stage.

Two new funds were established in 2014.

• The Antoinette “Toni” Kniola Red HOT Hatter’s Memorial Fund was established when Toni was tragically killed in a bicycle accident. Because of Toni’s love of the arts, grants from the fund will be awarded to programs or projects that celebrate the arts.

• The Vevay Switzerland County Bicentennial Legacy Fund was established to remember the Town of Vevay’s and Switzerland County’s recent bicentennial celebrations. Grants from this fund will be used to encourage continued education on the topic of Switzerland County.

CFSCI continued to administer the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the National Center for College Costs programming in 2014.

The Imagination Library had anywhere from 215 to 240 children enrolled to receive free books throughout the year. The National Center for College Costs programming was expanded to include a College Costs Estimator Day at the high school so that parents could visit a computer lab and have free access to experts that assisted them in determining the cost of college for their students.

The year 2015 looks to be a busy one for CFSCI but one in which both the Board of Directors and staff look forward to. We are blessed in that we get the privilege of helping people do good work within Switzerland County today and in the future.