Community Foundation of Boone County strives to connect people who care with the causes that matter to them

 By Ann Craig-Cinnamon

There is an organization for every cause under the sun. Whether it’s the Red Cross stepping in during disasters, or the United Way funding a wide variety of charities. Maybe it’s an organization that raises money to fund research to find a cure for a specific disease. There is certainly no shortage of causes to which you can donate your money. They are all great organizations, but what if you want your gift to stay in your community and go exactly where you want it to go – now and even after you are gone?

Well, that is possible through the Community Foundation of Boone County (CFBC) which has been quietly going about its business of handing out millions of dollars in grants and scholarships and making the community a better place for more than 20 years now. Formed in 1991 by members of the community who wanted to make a difference, the Community Foundation currently holds around $20 million dollars in endowed assets and has handed out almost $18 million to the community since it awarded its first grant in 1992. The Community Foundation is basically a collection of charitable funds – about 200 in all – set up by individuals, families, businesses and organizations who want to make a positive difference in the local community.

Jen Pendleton, who is a Zionsville resident and the new executive

Executive Director Jen Pendleton

director of the CFBC, said that one of the great things about giving to the Community Foundation is that you help other causes by giving to them. “Whether it’s supporting your family’s favorite cause or helping us address Boone County’s most urgent needs, our goal is to help individuals, families and organizations become philanthropic for the long term. Our core is endowment which means that your donation is invested and the interest is awarded to your favorite causes forever,” she explained.

Another big advantage according to Jen is that the funds stay in our community. “I also think that we are unique in a time when people are longing to buy local and support local business and markets. The Community Foundation of Boone County is a great way for our residents to give local and support causes close to home, and to the organizations that help make our community strong. Just like our tagline says, we encourage people to “make a difference, make it here,” she added.

One Zionsville family that has done that is the Easterday family. Tom and Deb have been involved with the Community Foundation since the late 1990s. Tom was the president of the Zionsville Town Council and also a CFBC board member for many years. Deb sought and received a grant from the CFBC when she needed help getting a not-for-profit organization started that was dedicated to helping families with children with disabilities. Their positive interaction with the Community Foundation led them to set up the Easterday Family Fund in 2004.

The purpose of the fund is to enhance the quality of life for the poor, underprivileged and disabled of Indiana, especially those that live in Boone County. “We have been involved with many charitable organizations such as Special Olympics, ARC of Boone County, Boy Scouts and others that work with individuals with disabilities and underprivileged youth, so we recognize that several organizations have needs that can be met through a fund established for that purpose. We believe the Easterday Family Fund is another effective way for us to give back to our community,” according to the Easterdays.

As an example of what the Community Foundation has done, Tom points to the hundreds of Boone County students who may not have been able to go to college without the scholarship they received from the Community Foundation. “I recall a former executive director of the Zionsville Boys & Girls Club telling me a few years ago that it would not have been able to meet its monthly obligations at that time had it not received a grant from a CFBC fund.

“Several local charitable organizations were facing challenges during the recession and may not have survived without funding from a special initiative at the Community Foundation,” Tom continued. “A very recent example is a reading program for adults with disabilities in Boone County that was started in 2012 with a grant from the Community Foundation. Clearly, the Community Foundation plays a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for residents of Boone County,” he added.

Tom emphasized that The Community Foundation is aware of the needs in the community, has the unique ability to address multiple areas of need at the same time, and can bring together a variety of organizations to collaborate on important projects and initiatives. To that end, Jen said she just completed an A-Z Listening Tour of the county, visiting everywhere from Advance to Zionsville to learn more about the needs of each community. She added she is still listening. “I want to hear first-hand from our residents on what they feel the Community Foundation’s role should be and how we can best address the different needs. Even though the tour is over, I’m still looking to talk to as many people and organizations as possible, so I encourage any Boone County residents to give me call. I’d love to hear what they have to say!”

Need more encouragement? The CFBC also makes it extremely easy by:
Accepting a wide variety of gift types (cash, stocks, life insurance, property);

Offering many fund types. Donors can name a fund, advise a fund, or designate an area of interest or specific charity to benefit;

Handling all fund administration. Donors get the joy of giving while the Foundation does the research, paperwork, grant follow-up and reporting;

Sharing their community needs expertise; and

Endowing funds so that a donor’s charitable wishes create a permanent legacy

If you’ve been looking for a way to give back to your community and to continue giving back long after you are gone, or perhaps you want to honor a loved one by setting up a fund that supports their favorite charitable cause, you might want to consider looking into the Community Foundation of Boone County. It is also a powerful way to pass on the importance of philanthropy to future generations. You can visit them in their office at 60 E. Cedar St., Zionsville; call 317-873-0210; or visit

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