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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 scholarships.

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).

DCF (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.

Lilly 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 1998, the Foundation also began a new program called Care and Share. DCF collaborates with RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) to send their volunteers into all third- and fourth-grade classrooms to explain philanthropy and community service. The Foundation offers each classroom $100 to assist them in participating in a community service project.

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 period.

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.

In 2005, Fred McCarter was hired as DCF’s Executive Director and the Foundation moved to a new office location at 322 Walnut Street 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 will allow Dearborn County schools to implement a two-part program called “Project Connect.” The first component is 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 develop action plans to address the relevant issues. Through the program, educators can identify other resources and services available to families and students. The second component of Project Connect is an after-school tutoring program called “Homework Connection” established at 11 schools in the county in August 2006. The tutoring program assists at-risk students in completing their homework and succeeding in school. The tutoring program is an extension of an existing program at Lawrenceburg High School.