Monthly Archives: November 2023

LaGrange County Community Foundation awards $92,000 to area nonprofits

The LaGrange County Community Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the fall Community Impact Grants cycle.

LaGrange County Soil & Water District Water Quality Monitoring

The Foundation recently awarded $92,000 in grants to eleven nonprofit organizations. The Community Impact Grants support nonprofits in six areas: arts and culture, health and human services, recreation, environment, community development and education.  

The Community Impact Grants are made possible by the generosity of donors who give to the unrestricted and field of interest funds at the Foundation.  

For over 30 years, the Community Foundation has remained committed to its mission of “inspiring and sustaining generosity, leadership and service in LaGrange County.”

“Through our grantmaking program we are able to ensure a lasting legacy for our funders who have made a long-term commitment to support positive growth of our nonprofit community in LaGrange County,” said Octavia Yoder, Executive Director. 

“We are honored to support many deserving nonprofit organizations who are improving the quality of life in LaGrange County and helping meet important and unmet community needs,” Yoder added. 

The 2023 fall Community Impact Grant recipients include: 

  • LaGrange County Department of Parks & Recreation, Tetrick property, $20,000; 
  • LaGrange County Soil & Water Conservation District, Long-term strategic water quality monitoring program in LaGrange County, $11,500; 
  • LaGrange Baseball League, Score board installation at Spreuer Park, $8,000; 
  • Coffee & Cream of South Milford, Coffee & Cream equipment, $12,500; 
  • Agape Child Care Ministry, Program materials, $2,500; 
  • Cancer Services of Northeastern Indiana, Client advocate program for LaGrange County, $2,500; 
  • Clothes & Food Basket of LaGrange County, Operating support, $15,000; 
  • Junior Achievement of LaGrange County, Junior Achievement Biztown Fieldtrips 2023-2024, $5,000; 
  • Boomerang Backpacks, 2023-2024 school year weekend feeding program at Westview and Prairie Heights schools, $10,000; 
  • Youth for Christ Northern Indiana, Westview Campus Life, $2,500; and
  • Kate’s Kart, Book Distribution at Parkview LaGrange, $2,500.

Each year, the Community Foundation seeks proposals for charitable projects and programs that help local nonprofit organizations provide services in LaGrange County. The Grants Advisory Committee reviews the submitted grant applications and makes recommendations to the Board of the Directors who approve the grant awards. To learn more, visit 

Leaders Excited About Philanthropy 2023

Wednesday, November 15, National Philanthropy Day, our LIFE youth philanthropy members hosted the bi-annual LEAP Event, Leaders Excited About Philanthropy. Students from our 3 county public schools are encouraged to get involved in their community during this one-day conference on leadership and philanthropy. 

Our 12 LIFE members along with their LIFE leader, Leanna Martin have been working since Spring 2023 to organize this event for high schoolers from Lakeland, Prairie Heights and Westview. This year’s event was held at Lakeland high school. The members chose the speakers, nonprofits in attendance, icebreakers, snacks and even found donations and sponsors for the event.

There were a lot of fun and education activities throughout our 4 hours together. Our time included lots of Icebreakers for the kids to get to know each other. They also organized a Community Nonprofit Fair in which volunteers/ employees from Agape Missions of LaGrange County, LaGrange County Community Foundation, Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity, and Reason 4 Hope attended. These nonprofits spoke to the kids and shared how they started, where they are located, what they do, and how a person could get involve or help the nonprofit. After the student listened to the nonprofit, they would get their Passports signed to enter for prizes. The prizes were donated from many of our awesome community members, nonprofits and business (see list below!).

We also had a great speaker, Coach Seth Maust from Five Star Life. He spoke to the kids on looking beyond themselves to see others, leaders volunteer first, as well as many other good philanthropic ideas. Octavia Yoder, Executive Director at LaGrange County Community Foundation also spoke to the students about philanthropy, working for a nonprofit and what jobs are available, notably in our area. There was also a small Community Service Project they were able to participate in.

Before they left, students were asked to take part in an end of event survey, in which 100% of the 45 students who participated, said that they would recommend LEAP to a friend.

Our LIFE members did an amazing job of working hard and running the event. But none of that would have been possible without the donations and sponsorships from our community. We want to thank the following individuals/ businesses/ nonprofits for helping the LEAP event be a success:

Donations: Crossroads United Way, E&S Sale, Elijah Haven, Farmers State Bank, Habitat for Humanity, LaGrange County CVB, LaGrange County REMC, Lassus Bros. Handy Dandy in Wolcottville and Yoder Popcorn. Financial Support: Cierra Young & Jessyca Castle, LaGrange Veterinarian Clinic, Shipshewana Trading Place, Tammi Haviland, The Riegseckers, Inc., Topeka Pharmacy and Wear Haus Designs.

Rainbow Years shines in new space

Rainbow Years Learning Ministry is a childcare and preschool program of Shore Church in Shipshewana.

We recently visited Portia Amstutz, director of Rainbow Years Learning Ministry in Shipshewana to see the progress on their $1 million renovation project. Rainbow Years is a ministry of Shore Church, providing year-round daycare and education to children from birth to age 11.

Rainbow Years renovated their space to add more childcare seats. At one point, their wait-list exceeded their capacity.

In June, Rainbow Years received a Community Impact Grant of $21,736 to purchase materials and equipment for its updated facility.

We were excited to see their new space!

Rainbow Years can currently take around 90 kids, ages birth to 11 years old. With the help of the grant, they were able furnish two new classrooms, giving each age level a class of their own. They not only were able to furnish the two new rooms, but they also replaced some old items throughout the facility.

One of the newly furnished classrooms available now for Rainbow Years.
New classroom furnished with the grant funds received.

The grant helped purchase new sleeping cots, glider rockers, furniture for the teacher’s work room and main office, refrigerator and microwave for the teachers, a washer and dryer unit, cribs, changing tables and toys. It also helped create an indoor “recess” area.

They also created a fun, comfortable space for school-age kids to meet before and after school, as well as in the summer.

When we asked Portia what is meaningful about her work; she said the impact they have on the children. She said it’s because the most critical time for learning is before age 5 – it’s an important job!

Cribs and a glider rocker are a few of the many items added to the infant room.

The Foundation is excited to partner with nonprofits like Rainbow Years to help improve the early education of the youngest children in our county.

Community Impact Grants help nonprofits to be more effective, efficient and self-sustaining. The Community Foundation looks to fund innovative or creative projects addressing community needs like Rainbow Years.

Currently, Rainbow Years currently has about 18-20 spots open for childcare! In the next few weeks, they will be able to accept Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers for low-income families. This program will make their childcare even more affordable for more families.

You can learn more about their programs and availability at

Portia Amstutz reading to some of the children at Rainbow Years Childcare Ministry.

Lilly Scholarship finalists selected

From left are the 2024 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship finalists Xai Leu, Jace Lang, Taylor Jerdon, Christien Noward and Braden Rogers.

Five LaGrange County high school seniors have been named finalists for the LaGrange County 2024 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. The prestigious award goes to an outstanding high school senior in LaGrange County.

The finalists include Taylor Jerdon (Lakeland High School), Jace Lang (Westview High School), Xai Leu (Lakeland High School), Christien Noward (Westview High School), and Braden Rogers (Westview High School).

The scholarship is awarded to one LaGrange County graduating senior who demonstrates service and leadership in their community, and a commitment to academic excellence. Among the finalists, one LaGrange County resident will be awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, which will pay their full-tuition at any Indiana college or university, plus required fees. The recipient also will receive $900 per year for books and required equipment.

The Community Foundation received applications from all three high schools in LaGrange County. The  Community Foundation’s Lilly Scholarship Advisory Committee reviews and evaluates applications based on academics, community and school activities, work history, leadership and written essays. Identifying information about the student, such as name, school and gender, are removed during the application process. The finalists are then invited to a personal interview with the committee.

All finalists participated in a personal interview with the Foundation’s Lilly Scholarship Advisory Committee on October 17. The results of the interview round are combined with the application round to determine the 2024 nominees who will be submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana for final selection of the LaGrange County recipient.

Announcement of the recipient will be made in December. The four remaining finalists will each receive the Lambright Leadership Scholarship – a $1,000 award, renewable for up to three years. The Lambright Leadership Scholarship was established by Kevin and Carrie Lambright of Shipshewana in 2013.

The scholarship program is offered each year by the LaGrange County Community Foundation, and other Indiana community foundations across the state to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.