Monthly Archives: February 2022

Historic Gift from Howe School

LaGrange County Community Foundation received a $2.5 million gift from Howe School Board of Trustees to establish two endowments in honor of the school’s legacy.

Howe Military School Board of Trustee President Phil Malone signs an agreement establishing two endowment funds in honor of the school and donating $2.5 million to the LaGrange County Community Foundation. Looking on is Foundation Executive Director Octavia Yoder. In back, from left, are Howe Board Trustee Eleni Mitropoulous, Howe Board Treasurer Dave Houser, Howe Vice Chairman Bob Fanning, Howe Military School Superintendent Thurston Jones, and Foundation Board President Neal Wolheter.

The gift comes from the sale of the Howe Military campus after the school’s closing in 2019 – it is the largest contribution in the Foundation’s history.

Following the sale of the campus, the Howe Board of Trustees sought an opportunity to use the remaining funds to enhance the community of Howe and provide educational scholarships.

The Trustees began working with the Foundation in 2019 to identify their plans and the scope of how their charitable gift should be permanently managed. They settled on creating two endowments: the Howe Legacy Fund – a community grantmaking fund and the Howe Legacy Scholarship Fund – a scholarship fund for college, trade, or vocational education.    

The Howe Legacy Fund will support community development efforts in Howe and LaGrange County, with a significant priority on charitable projects and nonprofits in the Howe community. The Foundation will establish a committee of Howe community members who will be responsible for reviewing applications to the fund and making recommendations on philanthropic investments to the Foundation Board of Directors.

The second endowment – the Howe Legacy Scholarship Fund – will provide scholarships to the descendants of Howe School graduates and LaGrange County students pursuing post-secondary education. The core mission of Howe was education, and it resonated with the Board to carry on that vision.

It was important to us to continue the legacy of Howe School; we partnered with the Community Foundation because they understand the size and impact of this gift and could help us realize its mission.

Phil Malone, Howe School Board President

The Foundation anticipates both program funds will begin accepting applications in 2024 and make its first distributions that same year. The establishing gift will be endowed and protected; only the investment earnings will be distributed, ensuring the community and scholarship fund will have continual funding available.  

Howe Military Academy was founded in 1884 as the Howe Grammar School with a bequest by John Badlam Howe, a prominent banker, lawyer, and politician, who moved to Howe in 1833. His widow, Frances Marie Glidden Howe, took the $10,000 bequest left by John Howe, and with the help of the Episcopal church, established it as a preparatory school for young men seeking ordination in the church. The school opened in the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Howe, a Greek revival building still standing at the east end of the former campus.

The school became a military school in 1895. At its peak, Howe Military School enrollment was 458 in 1966-1967. As the climate in the world changed so did the attitude towards military prep schools, enrollment began to decline. The continuing enrollment decline and aging campus produced annual operating deficits that eventually consumed assets. The school closed in 2019, ending its remarkable 135-year history in Howe. 

We are honored to be able to offer community grants to historic Howe and provide educational scholarships to students seeking higher education. It was bittersweet for Howe School to close, and we plan to honor the legacy of the school and the vision of the school’s initial founders – John and Frances Howe – in using these funds to enhance the community of Howe and provide educational opportunities.

Octavia Yoder, Community Foundation Executive Director