Hancock County Community Foundation CEO Mary Gibble Shares Local Outreach Efforts for ARPA
Indiana is set to receive an astounding more than $2.6 billion in state and local aid from the American Resuce Plan Act (ARPA). In a recent IPA All-Member Call on ARPA, David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties, encouraged philanthropy to help local officials identify funding opportunities and to think long-term with this money when it comes to economic development and quality of life. “When we get to 2025, we want say that Indiana spent this money better than anybody else,” said Bottorff.
Mary Gibble, CEO of Hancock County Community Foundation based in Greenfield, Indiana, took note and spoke to Indiana Philanthropy Alliance about her local outreach efforts. Read our conversation with Gibble below.
Tell us about the steps you’ve taken so far in engage locally in ARPA?
During a recent economic development board meeting, a county councilman invited all members of the board who knew of nonprofits in need, to shoot him an email. I contacted him immediately and shared that the Hancock County Community Foundation (HCCF) is a connection point to community nonprofits. I pointed out that our experience over the past year has been to work closely with our nonprofits to provide lost operating support due to the effects of the pandemic. I told him that we would love the opportunity to serve the county with not only our nonprofit knowledge, but also with our skills in convening and facilitation for thoughtful deployment of ARPA resources.
He wrote me back and repeated his earlier statement… "contact me if you know of nonprofits in need." Given the response, I recognized that there was a lack of understanding of HCCF’s role in Hancock County. It was imperative that HCCF help elected officials understand our value in the ARPA discussion. I responded with “let's talk.”
Soon after, the county councilman, joined by an additional council member and one of our three county commissioners met at the HCCF office. This provided me and HCCF's community investment and grants officer an opportunity to expand further on what our role could be and how we could serve. I followed up with a detailed email for the other two county commissioners.
Was there anything that really stood out to you about ARPA from IPA’s recent member call?
My community investment and grants officer and I had scheduled lunch to watch the IPA All-Member Call on ARPA recording together. It provided a big “aha” moment, and I felt an urgency to share the value of HCCF given this unprecedented opportunity. Our goal was to be armed with information that would make the case for the community foundation to come to the table with county and town government officials.
During the IPA member call, the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute encouraged us to join their May 4 virtual event on Indiana READI. During that discussion, the panel repeatedly emphasized that both ARPA and READI funds should be used to do something transformational and sustainable.
Those are words that community foundations live out through all strategic aspects of perpetual work. But I can see how challenging identifying long-term impact could be for individuals who are elected for fairly short increments of time. Given our expertise, ARPA funding provides a great opportunity for community foundations in Indiana to provide guidance and support to those responsible for deploying these funds.
Thanks in part to the resources provided by the IPA All-Member Call and the Policy Institute’s discussion panel, I felt well prepared for the meeting with elected county leadership.
How is your community leadership work under GIFT VII helping you build relationships for ARPA planning?
Without the community leadership grant, the research that we did during the planning phase, and the direction of our foundation’s newly anointed strategic plan, I don't know that I would be inserting myself as forcefully into these conversations.
HCCF’s board-approved strategic plan includes an increased presence with those elected and appointed to office. With this, I feel I’ve been given “permission” to offer our expertise in convening diverse groups and facilitating conversations around transformational opportunities like ARPA.
Our strategic plan includes the creation of a new committee dedicated to an initiative called Thrive Hancock County. They, as well as the Executive Committee, are kept informed and are fully supportive. The board’s support of HCCF leadership in this space is vital.
Thrive Hancock County is a concept for countywide collaboration, ideation, and planning. Our strategies include fostering deeper relationships among public officials and the general public to raise the quality of life across Hancock County. We are also in the process of upgrading our physical space to better serve as an impartial host and convener for community-informed design.
What feels a bit unfortunate about the timing of ARPA is that many community foundations are in the early phase of community leadership implementation grant work, but ARPA money is here now. These dollars are infusing themselves in our communities before some of us have had an opportunity to start having those in-depth community conversations. However, I feel a sense of urgency for community foundations to skill-up quickly to ensure our place at the table of what is being called a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
What’s next for you when it comes to ARPA in Hancock County?
I'm not sure what will happen now, but I can tell you that I am talking with fellow community leaders to let them know that the community foundation wishes to serve and how. Making sure those with whom we speak understand that we are here to help, to SERVE is critical.
HCCF is not here to tell anyone what to do or push our own agenda. Rather, we are here to serve with grantmaking insight, facilitation skills, and the relationships we have across the county with many audiences of varying areas of expertise. It is my hope that the benefactors of ARPA will use our foundation's ability to do so.
IPA members can go here to find ARPA resources and links, including the All-Member Call recording.