Tipton County Foundation Endeavors to Connect, Enhance and Improve
For almost 35 years, the Tipton County Foundation (TCF) has been improving the lives of Tipton County residents by investing in the community. The tax-exempt, nonprofit organization is not affiliated with any political group, and is publicly supported and governed by a board of directors. Although best known for awarding educational grants and scholarships, it has multiple projects and many charitable funds under its umbrella. TCF takes a leadership role and is driving some innovative initiatives in 2021.
Founded in 1986, TCF meets rigorous national requirements to earn accreditation from the Council on Foundations. Some of its growth has been spurred on by gifts from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow, but the generosity of Tipton County’s residents has far and above been the catalyst for TCF’s success.
Due to its fundraising efforts and investment decisions, TCF has built a substantial endowment. The investment income from that endowment is then used to benefit causes that serve all ages, enhance the arts, strengthen education and support initiatives that help to make Tipton County a desirable place to live.
“Within TCF, there are committees such as education, finance and several others,” says Mark Baird, executive director. “The grant committee is responsible for reviewing the filed grant applications, making site visits, verifying facts and taking recommendations to the board. Grant proposals are accepted periodically throughout the year, and in times of crisis we try to expedite requests to meet immediate needs.”
Baird says the pandemic provides a strong example of how the organization responds to community needs.
“We partnered with several nonprofits and helped those that needed food,” he says. “We are committed to work with community organizations to provide what they need. If we can’t help them directly, or [do not] have a program that fits their needs, we can connect them with an organization that will.”
The foundation is dedicated to providing education-based grants to Tipton County’s public schools. In recent years, Tri-Central Community Schools has been awarded grants to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculums, and aid in achieving STEM certification. A groundbreaking grant was presented to Tipton High School for their state-of-the-art eSports lab. The lab promotes competitive gaming and permits a sector of students to find a niche of their own at school.
“Tipton’s eSports lab is second to none,” Baird says. “It allows students to participate on a sports team. A career path can open up to those students who are involved in it.”
The agencies that benefit from the foundation are many and varied. Examples from the health sector include Indiana University Health Tipton Hospital and the Tipton County Health Department. Grants given to the Boys & Girls Club of Tipton County and Encore Lifestyle & Enrichment Center highlight TCF’s commitment to all ages. Also supported are organizations that give aid in times of need, such as Tipton County Mustard Seed and the United Way.
“One of our funds is unique in that a group of women in the community have spearheaded it, both in fundraising and programs,” Baird says. “The Women’s Fund centers on health awareness and supports initiatives such as enhancing the workout center in Tipton High School in order to make it more welcoming for girls. Their annual appeal is the Women’s Tea fundraising event.”
Baird adds that TCF wants to take on nontraditional issues in the coming year.
“We are seeking to bring schools, industry, businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to partner together and build a roadmap that concentrates on the future,” Baird says. “We want to develop a plan that doesn’t just sit on the shelf but is implemented. By reaching out to the different sectors of the community, we want to chart out something that most everyone can buy into and include things we haven’t done in the past.”
One initiative TCF is taking on in 2021 is the quest to provide broadband internet that is accessible throughout the county. The foundation hopes to provide leadership and work with the state and local government in order to make the project a reality.
Providing a more robust community calendar is another mission the foundation is planning to complete this year. Currently, there are several places to get information on happenings within the county, but there is no central databank for all events. The calendar would include information from cities, county government, churches, businesses, schools and organizations. It would help to prevent scheduling conflicts as well.
The foundation is grateful for any contributions, large or small. Those interested can support causes they care about by making a gift in memory of a loved one, or to celebrate special occasions such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and weddings. The gifts ensure that under TCF’s care, the ongoing programs and funds that support Tipton County will continue for many generations to come.
Tipton County Foundation is located at 1020 Jefferson Street in Tipton. For more info, call 765-675-8480 and visit TiptonCF.org.