Member News

CF of Whitley County Announces More than $300K in Spring Grants

Friday, May 26, 2023

Following through on a promise made, this spring, the Community Foundation of Whitley County awarded a $200,000 grant to help procure a new home for the Churubusco Library to be housed in what will become the Churubusco Civic Center. The funding helped to secure ownership of the vacant bank building and was one of the largest unrestricted grants made in the Foundation’s 32-year history. 

In 2019, at the request of the school superintendent, Community Foundation staff members and Shawn Ellis, Director of Mission 25, met with several Churubusco residents to identify local needs. Discussion quickly turned to programming for at-risk youth, the condition of the current library, and the vacant 14,000-square-foot bank building that was listed for sale on the corner of US 33 and State Road 205. With a go-ahead from the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors, the building was toured in 2020, and formal inquiries were initiated in the hopes of acquiring the structure as a donation or via a bargain sale. Despite prolonged efforts, a donation was ruled out. With the promise of partial funding from the Foundation, the Town began pursuing the purchase of the building.

The Community Foundation matched the Town of Churubusco to provide the necessary funding for the purchase of the structure in April. The grant was awarded to the Churubusco Community Coalition, a new non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the Town. Plans call for a vibrant, new library to occupy the upstairs, with the lower level renovated to provide space for a variety of community needs, including programs for at-risk youth. 

Securing the building was just the first step. Next comes much-needed renovation work on both floors. Included in the lengthy list of repairs – a new HVAC system, roofing, an elevator/lift, and asphalt for the large parking lot. Understanding projected costs, Madalyn Sade Bartl, Churubusco’s clerk-treasurer, took the initiative to submit a grant application to the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority for READI Funding. Her work paid off when earlier this year, it was announced that the Churubusco Civic Center project was awarded $500,000 toward renovation costs of the property. It was the only Whitley County project to secure funds made available to Northeast Indiana.

The Community Foundation’s Grants Committee also recommended the following grants to the Foundation’s Board, and they were approved at the May meeting:

  • Boomerang Backpacks, $5,000 to provide food for weekend meals for students, made possible in part with funding from the Scientific and Regulatory Consultants Community Fund;
  • TROY Alternative School, $7,500 for transportation program costs made possible in part with funds from the William and Barbara Overdeer Community Fund and the James and Kathleen Heuer Community Fund; and $15,000 for Whitko Career Academy tuition assistance;
  • Difference Makers, $5,000 to purchase food supplies for the pantry made possible in part by the Jean and Roger Long Community Fund;
  • Erin’s House, $5,000 toward grief counseling for Whitley County youth made possible in part with funds from the Don Armstrong Community Fund; 
  • BABE, $2,500 toward operating support, made possible by the Giving Circle for Women’s Health, made possible in part by the Gary and Ann Dillon Community Fund; 
  • Community Harvest, $5,000 for the veggie wagon to visit Whitley County with food for those in need, made possible in part by the Pamela S. McCoy Fund in Memory of Russel and Evelyn Fahl;
  • Youth for Christ, $9,000 toward programming for Whitley County youth made possible in part by the Andy and Toni More Community Fund;
  • American Red Cross, $5,000 toward their Home Fire Relief Program in Whitley County, made possible in part by the Greg and Ann Fahl Community Fund; 
  • Churubusco Fine Arts, $10,000 for the auditorium lighting system
  • Giving Gardens, $2,200 for a pavilion, made possible in part by the Jack and Judy More Community Fund; 
  • Royal Family Kids Camp, $3,000 toward their annual Birthday Party program, made possible in part by the Don and Sharlene Berkshire Fund;
  • Camp Whitley, $5,000 to install non-slip flooring in the bathhouses, made possible in part by the Honorable Phil M and Patricia M. McNagny Community Fund;
  • Tri-Lake Lions Club, $2,700 toward renovations
  • Big Brother/Big Sisters, $2,000 toward Whitley County mentoring programs
  • Columbia City Arts Commission, $2,500 toward advertising costs for art events, made possible in part by the Rosemary Steiner Community Fund; 
  • Churubusco Parks, $15,000 for a pickleball court made possible in part by the Jerry Busche Family Fund; 
  • Churubusco Community Childcare Center, $7,000 for summer programming made possible in part by the Donna K. Harl Unrestricted Fund;
  • Brightpoint, $5,000 toward Cover Kids and Families Insurance program made possible in part by the Max Fahl Unrestricted Endowment Fund;
  • Advocacy Links, $7,500 for social service assistance made possible in part by the Tim and Beth Bloom Community Fund;
  • Little Cats Early Learning Center, $11,000 for a playground fence made possible in part by the Dekko Child Care Endowment Fund

“Our gratitude extends to donors past and present who have gifted funds to the Community Foundation with the directive to “use this where it’s needed most,” and in doing so, allowed the Foundation to grant a total of $316,900 to community projects this spring,” said September McConnell, Foundation CEO.

The Community Foundation of Whitley County is a 501(c)3 public charity, and contributions to endowment funds are tax deductible.

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