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 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
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 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.