The Community Foundation of Boone County
Community Foundation of Boone County Helps Locally in Diverse Ways
In 1991, the Community Foundation of Boone County (CFBC) began with $15,000 in seed money from the Lilly Endowment Inc., and has since become a thriving resource for individuals, organizations and philanthropies throughout the county.
The CFBC services the 67,000-plus Boone County residents, and currently helps approximately 100 nonprofits, distributing $1 million in grants and nearly 100 scholarships annually. From animals to the arts, youngsters to seniors, the CFBC provides transport services, food assistance programs, poverty relief, care for local wildlife, arts programs and health care services.
President and CEO Jodi Gietl describes the county as primarily agricultural, but vast and diverse with its location along the Interstate 65 corridor. This year has brought new challenges for the organization, and Gietl vividly remembers March 12, when most of the state began commercial closures in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gietl says service providers, working with the health department, county trustees, schools and hospitals, were able to handle distribution to meet the many needs in Boone County. Throughout 16 weeks of closures statewide, the groups provided 11,000-plus meals and personal protective equipment (PPE), and also shuttled groceries and medications for the elderly and cancer patients.
“We had a big, grassroots effort to get locally sourced beef and milk into the hands of those who needed it, and I’m so proud,” Gietl says. “Our board said, ‘We’ve fed the county, gotten PPE and addressed health. What’s the next biggest need?’ In July, the board wanted to protect our most valuable assets – our children.”
In July the CFBC announced three $50,000 grants for the Lebanon, Zionsville and Western Boone public school districts.
“I thought it was amazing to see the generosity and unity in the board,” Gietl says of the school grants.
Gietl says funding is sourced from a portfolio that includes life insurance policies and real estate gifts.
“We are flexible and nimble with the things we can turn into funds for the county, and are uniquely equipped to turn it around into cash for the county,” she says.
This harvest season saw the implementation of the Gifts of Grain program, which was championed by Gietl when she took the helm in 2019, and was enthusiastically supported by local farmers. Farmers with stored grain from the prior year can donate that grain to the CFBC, allowing them to give back without giving cash. Gietl says the foundation will hold the grain in an account, to be converted to cash at a later date.
With many nonprofit doors closed by mandate due to the pandemic, and many fundraising events cancelled, Gietl says local agencies are in need of support.
“Technology and cleaning costs are permanent for 65% of these businesses, and 92% reported lost revenue,” she says. “We want to build alongside their desire to stay afloat.”
Additional expenses for PPE and sanitization measures must be absorbed into the already-challenged budgets of many local organizations. To help with these costs, the CFBC is matching money raised by nonprofits from October through the end of the year, up to $15,000. Recipient businesses applied for the Community Match Grant Program in August, and recipients were announced in September. The list of recipients can be found on the official CFBC website. To apply for future funding, organizations must submit a letter of inquiry to the CFBC, and the CFBC offers tutorial videos on its website regarding the application process.
One program many high school seniors look forward to is the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, the winners of which will be announced later this year. The CFBC has nominated two scholars who have demonstrated strong academic performance, graduating in the top 20% of their class. Winners will be awarded up to $900 annually for books and equipment, in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree from a public or private university in Indiana.
Gietl continues to find new ways to grow in her first year as president and CEO of the CFBC. She is hoping to add a mobile application for the CFBC that can match volunteers with organizations that interest them.
“I’m really passionate about civic volunteerism, and matching those who can benefit from the help,” she says.
Gietl says she was happy to keep endowment funds safe in an uncertain stock market, and a full staff to continue serving county residents and businesses.
The Community Foundation of Boone County is located at 102 North Lebanon Street, Suite 200 in Lebanon. For more information, call 765-482-0024 and visit communityfoundationbc.org.