History of the Foundation
With generous assistance from Lilly Endowment and many donors in our
community, the Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc., (DCF), in nine short
years, has become a vital instrument for the advancement of education,
social activity, charity and culture in Dearborn County. The Foundation is a
positive element that improves people’s lives primarily through grants and
The Founding board members, donors and friends sought to promote
philanthropy among the residents of Dearborn County and to respond to
the changing needs of the community in perpetuity. Nine years later, DCF
has awarded more than $10 million in grants and scholarships and has
assets of more than $13 million (as of 12/31/06).
(originally named Dearborn County Community Foundation) held its first
official “Committee” meeting under the affiliation with the Community
Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, Inc. in February of 1997. A
small group of community leaders led by the Foundation’s Founding
President Mike Kramer started the process to establish a community
foundation in Dearborn County in 1995. Mr. Kramer served as President
and then as the first Chairman of the Foundation board of directors for
over eight years.
In May 1997, Andrea Rahe Thalheimer became the first director of the
Foundation. The office for the Foundation was located on the second floor of
the US Bank building in downtown Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
On December 29, 1997, the Dearborn County Community Foundation, Inc. was
officially formed by the filing of our Articles of Incorporation and By-laws
with the State of Indiana. The Foundation was classified by the Internal
Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization in April of 1998 (and reissued
this determination in August of 2002 under our new name Dearborn Community
Foundation, Inc.) Assets were transferred from the Community Foundation of
Madison & Jefferson County on July 1, 1998.
The Foundation successfully completed Lilly Endowment’s GIFT II challenge
grant (Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow) in March of 1998. This GIFT
initiative allowed the Foundation to award $50,000 in special project
grants. We also raised $100,000 for operating from the local business
community. These funds were matched with $100,000 from the Rising Sun
Regional Foundation and $100,000 from Lilly Endowment. The Foundation raised
$600,000 in endowments and received $400,000 from Rising Sun and $500,000
from Lilly Endowment for our unrestricted endowment fund.
Endowment’s GIFT III challenge grant provided DCF with the opportunity
to bring an additional $1 million provided that the Foundation raised $1
million for operating and endowment. This challenge grant program
immediately followed GIFT II in April of 1998. The board was successful
and used $150,000 to continue the special project grants program,
$250,000 for a matching endowment grant program, $100,000 for operating
and $500,000 for the unrestricted endowment fund.
The Foundation participated in the Lilly Endowment Community
Scholarship Program that began in 1998. This program allows the
Foundation to select recipients for a four-year, full-tuition
scholarship to any accredited public or private college in Indiana. In
1998, the first recipient was Ashley Fields.
In March of 1999, Lilly Endowment offered a new challenge grant, GIFT
IV. The Foundation received $1.2 million for unrestricted and $300,000
for operating. The $1.2 million was allocated as follows: $350,000
direct community grants, $100,000 matching endowment grant program,
$50,000 special project grant program, and $700,000 for the unrestricted
endowment fund. Lilly Endowment put stipulations on the $300,000 for
operating support that the funds needed to be used during a five-year
In the summer of 1999, the Foundation began the Heart of Gold
program, which recognizes community volunteers and encourages
philanthropy. DCF invited members of the community to nominate
individuals for their volunteerism and unusual acts of kindness. The
Foundation annually recognizes each nominee with a gold, heart-shaped
medallion and selects six individuals to receive $500 to donate to the
charity of their choice.
In September of 2000, Lilly Endowment announced a new initiative
called “Taking Stock.” They awarded each community foundation $25,000 to
step back, reflect, to obtain the assistance it needed to carry out an
assessment of our own needs and priorities, to obtain views from the
community it serves, and to set a direction for the future. The program
culminated with the Foundation submitting a survey to Lilly Endowment.
DCF also received $100,000 for the completion of the survey.
In August of 2001, Lilly Endowment announced another GIFT initiative
(GIFT V). DCF needed to raise $50,000 in operating support in order to
receive a $100,000 operating grant and the Foundation had the
opportunity to bring an additional $2 million for our unrestricted
endowment fund if we successfully raise $1 million in unrestricted
endowment support and another $1 million for restricted endowment
purposes from our community. The Foundation hired a firm to conduct a
community awareness campaign. Through these efforts, the Foundation was
able to raise all of the operating support needed and enough endowment
contributions to allow us to bring in $243,480 for our unrestricted
endowment. The Rising Sun Regional Foundation gave us $80,000 towards
our unrestricted endowment for matching purposes.
2005, Fred McCarter was hired as DCF’s Executive Director and the Foundation
moved from its Aurora office to an office in Lawrenceburg. The
Foundation also embarked on a mission to become self-sufficient by January
2011. The creation of a Strategic Resource Development Plan to reach the
goal of self-sufficiency is a part of the Lilly Endowment initiative
“Sustaining Resource Development”(SRD). The Foundation received $250,000
Lilly grant in late 2005. The SRD grant monies are to be used specifically
for a three-year Resource Development budget outlined in the Foundation’s
successful plan/proposal submitted to Lilly Endowment.
Also in 2005, the Foundation successfully garnered a $750,000 CAPE
III grant form Lilly Endowment to establish school-based programs
targeting at-risk students and their families.
The Community Alliances to Promote Education (CAPE) grant allowed
Dearborn County schools to implement a two-part program called “Project
Connect.” The first component was aimed at increasing attendance rates by
hiring one “Connect Counselor” for each school corporation. In January
2006, the counselors began working with students that have multiple
absences and developed action plans to address the relevant issues.
Through the program, educators identified other resources and services
available to families and students. The second component of Project
Connect was an after-school tutoring program called “Homework Connection”
established at 11 schools in the county in August 2006. The tutoring
program assisted at-risk students in completing their homework and
succeeding in school. The tutoring program was an extension of an
existing program at Lawrenceburg High School.
DCF successfully completed its endowment matching program called “Double Your Donation”
in April 2008 – growing the Foundation’s endowment for the community by $550,000 in just 11
days. The Foundation’s goal for the matching program was to celebrate DCF’s 10th
with a gift encouraging philanthropy through endowment in the Dearborn County community.
The program began on April 1 and was over by April 11, when the last of the $275,000 in
endowment matching funds were matched. DCF matched $1-for-$1 contributions made to
new or existing endowments – doubling the original donation by contributors. Contributors
established five new endowments totaling more than $172,500 during the matching program.
Another $102,500 was contributed to nearly 20 existing endowments. The overall endowment at
the Foundation grew by $550,000 when the new contributions are combined with the $1-for-$1
match. The Foundation had total endowment of $10.4 million as of December 31, 2007.
In 2008, the Foundation was a part of a successful regional grant proposal to Lilly Endowment
Inc. for a $38 million education and training grant. DCF expects to receive up to $900,000
over a three-year period to fund an Economic Opportunities 2015 (EcO15) coordinator and
administrative assistant positions and to support and expand advanced manufacturing education
in the county. The Community Education Coalition, Columbus, received $26 million of the
Lilly Endowment grant with $12 million being awarded to the Heritage Fund – the Community
Foundation of Bartholomew County for the program that covers 10 Southeastern Indiana
counties. The two organizations are providing leadership, oversight and management support
services for the regionally-focused initiative. The EcO15 programs will teach skills needed for an
influx of jobs primarily in advanced manufacturing but also in healthcare services and hospitality
and tourism in the Southeastern Indiana region. In August 2008, DCF hired retired bank
executive Mark Neff, Aurora, as the EcO15 Coordinator for Dearborn County. Neff amassed
27 years of experience in the local banking industry before retiring in 2004. At retirement, he
served as Regional President & Operations Liaison with the Community Bank Operations of
Indiana and Ohio Community Bank Division of US Bank. DCF established an impressive EcO15
Task Force representing county educators, ranging from middle school to Ivy Tech Community
College, along with manufacturers and economic development professionals to work on an
advanced manufacturing proposal for Dearborn County.
In October 2008, DCF moved into a newly renovated office at 322 Walnut Street
in Lawrenceburg. The move was made possible by the kind support of the City of
Lawrenceburg along with in-kind contributions made by many others. The Foundation’s
address is 322 Walnut Street, but the office entrance is via the front door of the adjoining
offices of the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce and the Dearborn County
Convention, Visitor & Tourism Bureau. The DCF move brought about a new partnership
that created a synergy that will aide all four organizations in making Dearborn County an
even better place to live, learn, work and play.
In December 2008, DCF received the Council on Foundations National Seal for
operational quality, donor service and accountability in the community foundation sector.
National Standards requires DCF to document its policies in donor services, Investment
management, grant making and administration. To receive conformation of National
Standards compliance, DCF submitted its organizational and financial documents, policies
and procedures to a rigorous peer review. The National Standards Seal by the Dearborn
Community Foundation’s name indicates official confirmation from the Council
Foundations that DCF has met the most rigorous standards in philanthropy.
In 2009 through 2014, DCF continued to offer its “Double your Donation” Endowment
Matching Program. As it was in 2008, the program has been highly successful. From
its beginning in 2008 through 2014, the program has increased the Foundation’s
endowment for the community by more than $3 million. The program continues to inspire
philanthropy with more than forty new endowment funds started during the seven year.
The new endowment funds support educational needs of students in our county and other
organizations that make a positive impact on the lives of community members. In addition,
contributions to existing endowment funds have helped strengthen many non-profit
organizations that serve needs in the community.
In 2014, Lilly Endowment offered a new challenge grant, GIFT VI, to promote sustainable
and effective community foundations in Indiana. The GIFT VI funds will help enhance
fundraising efforts to build endowed assets and sustain and improve operations. To balance
long-term and short-term objectives, the funds will help build unrestricted endowment
as well as provide support for short-term projects and needs. The Foundation received
$250,000 to be used for matching unrestricted funds endowment fund contributions and
$250,000 to be used for operating and other endowment fund contributions.