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LIFE Grants support LaGrange County youth projects

LIFE members volunteer at The Waters in LaGrange.

LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded ten LIFE grants totaling $17,495 to area organizations and schools during its 2024 LIFE grant cycle.

The grants will support educational and youth projects in LaGrange County.

LIFE is a youth philanthropy program of the LaGrange County Community Foundation. Members represent Lakeland, Westview and Prairie Heights High Schools, with one representative from each class in 9th-12th grades.

The students learn about philanthropy and charitable giving and are responsible for reviewing and making funding recommendations for the LIFE funds at the Foundation.

“Grants awarded through the LIFE program provide members with grantmaking and charitable giving experience. They connect with programs active in our community and financially support them through this competitive grant program,” said Leanna Martin, Community Foundation Program Director and LIFE Navigator. “It’s an excellent way for youth to be a part of the bigger picture within LaGrange County.”

Prairie Heights High School received a grant of $1,050 to help purchase professional style mixers for its culinary program. The program is in its second year at Prairie Heights, with nearly 60 students enrolled in the Culinary Arts career pathway. The culinary students have catered meals for athletic teams, provided refreshments for dances and made muffins and cookies for the food service at Prairie Heights.

Westview Elementary School also received a grant of $1,800 to help purchase display boards for the Westview Elementary Art Show.

Additional 2024 LIFE Grant recipients include:

  • Community Harvest Food Bank, “Kids BackPack and TeenPak Hunger Relief Initiative,” $2,500;
  • Crossroads United Way, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library LaGrange County,” $2,500;
  • LaGrange County Department of Parks & Recreation, “Adventure Bound 2024,” $2,500;
  • Prairie Heights Football Boosters, “Prairie Heights Football Annual Free Youth Camp,” $1,800.
  • Westview Elementary School, “Personal Hygiene Supply Packs,” $2,020;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “aMAYzing Crew (technology),” $2,125;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “Oakley’s Cardio Drumming Squad,” $700; and
  • Youth for Christ Northern Indiana, “Westview Campus Life,” $500.

Each school year, LIFE seeks proposals for youth programs serving youth in LaGrange County. LIFE members review the submitted grant applications and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who approve the grant awards.

These grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the LIFE Grantmaking Fund at the Community Foundation.

McBride joins Community Foundation team

Jennifer McBride serves as our Office and Scholarship Manager. Her role primarily focuses on the Foundation’s daily operations, greeting visitors, processing donor gifts, coordinating board and committee meetings, as well as managing the Foundation’s scholarship programs.  

McBride holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Trine University. She worked for LaGrange County government for 17 years, and previously worked at the Town of Shipshewana. One of her passions is reaching and serving youth – she has been a dedicated volunteer in church youth group programs for the past several decades.

McBride is a lifelong LaGrange County resident and lives in Howe with her husband, Rick. She has three children and three grandchildren.

McBride volunteered as a scholarship evaluator for the Foundation’s Community Scholarship Program in the past and was eager to dive into her new role this February. She is responsible for building and managing the online applications, promoting opportunities to local youth, coordinating volunteer evaluators, and presenting the final awards to students.

She is excited to be a part of the Community Foundation team.

“My heart is for the people of the community,” McBride said. “I enjoy being able to help others,” she added.

Seeking applicants for new positions

The LaGrange County Community Foundation is a growing nonprofit charitable organization focused on inspiring and sustaining generosity, leadership and service in LaGrange County. The Foundation is seeking to hire an Office and Scholarship Manager and Program Intern. Ideal candidates for these positions would be passionate members of a dynamic team with the goal of growing community assets.

Office and Scholarship Manager Job Summary:

The Office and Scholarship Manager reports directly to the Executive Director. The candidate is responsible for managing office operations, providing administrative support to the LCCF office, and managing the Foundation’s scholarship activities and programs.

Program Intern Job Summary:

The Program Intern will be engaged with a supporting role in the implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking and scholarship programs. The position will work directly with the Foundation’s Program Director to support grantmaking and scholarship initiatives and community outreach. Open to current college sophomores, junior, seniors and graduate students attending an Indiana college or university.

Application Process

  • No phone calls, please.
  • Email resume to Octavia Yoder, Executive Director, here.
  • Apply by Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

Learn how to apply for a Community Foundation grant

The LaGrange County Community Foundation will host a grant workshop on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation encourages nonprofit organizations considering submitting an application for a Community Impact Grant in 2023 to attend the workshop. The spring funding cycle is open and applications are due April 3.

Topics at the workshop will include an overview of the Community Impact Grant program, the online application portal, funding opportunities, and tips to tailor a strong story.

Nonprofit organizations serving LaGrange County are eligible to apply in six areas: arts & culture, community development, recreation, health and human services, education and environment. Awards range from $5,000 to $25,000.

“We are thrilled to offer a grant workshop that will provide information about the Foundation’s grant program. We encourage nonprofits who are considering applying or who want to learn more about seeking funds from the Foundation to attend. We will be sharing helpful tips on putting together a budget and how to tailor your story.”

Leanna Martin, Program Director

The Community Foundation aims to support nonprofit needs and provide innovative programs and services for local residents through its grantmaking program. The grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the unrestricted charitable funds at the Community Foundation.

To RSVP for the grant workshop click here. Those who register and attend will have a chance to win a gift card at $50.

Network with nonprofits at LaGrange Partners

Connect with LaGrange County nonprofit organizations at the bi-monthly LaGrange Partners meeting. The first meeting for 2023 takes place February 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Linder’s Tavern on Main in LaGrange.

LaGrange Partners, an interagency meeting for nonprofit organizations and entities providing services for LaGrange County residents, will meet February 14, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Linder’s Tavern on Main in LaGrange.

Partners provides a forum for learning about resources, discussing current issues, networking, and keeping up to date on existing services in LaGrange County.

The meeting is open to nonprofit staff, board members, volunteers and interested community members who want to connect and learn more about the nonprofit sector in LaGrange County.

2023 LaGrange Partners Schedule
February 14
April 11
June 13
August 8
October 10
December 12

Meetings are on the second Tuesday of every other month, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Locations vary. The meeting format includes time for lunch, agency announcements, networking, and a featured presentation on a focus topic.

To register for the February LaGrange Partners meeting, click here.

Guests will be able to pre-select a meal. Payment will need to be made directly to Linder’s on the day of the meeting.

To learn more about LaGrange Partners, visit

Application deadline approaching for Community Scholarships

Graduating LaGrange County high school seniors who are planning to apply for a Community Scholarship offered through the LaGrange County Community Foundation have until February 15, 2023 at 5 p.m. to submit their applications.  

The Foundation manages more than 45 community scholarship funds. Scholarship opportunities vary according to residency, career fields, current high school attendance, anticipated college enrollment, extracurricular involvement, and academic performance.

Scholarships are available for students who are planning to pursue a full-time education at a college, university, technical or trade school. Students can apply online at

Applicants should read the criteria carefully, as each scholarship is unique. Awards range from $500 to $3,000 per scholarship and may be used for educational expenses.

A full list of scholarships, criteria, and their award amounts is available online.

Questions about a scholarship opportunity? Contact Scholarship Manager Laurie Sherck at or call 260-463-4363.

Community Impact Grant program accepting applications in two cycles

The Community Impact Grant program will be offered in two funding rounds in 2023: grant applications will be due April 3 and September 1.

Applications are now open for the spring cycle. Award notifications will be made within 60 days of the application deadline.

The LaGrange Community Foundation seeks proposals for innovative or creative projects with significant impact in LaGrange County. Community Impact Grants are available to nonprofit organizations serving LaGrange County.

The grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the unrestricted and field of interest charitable funds at the Foundation.

Nonprofit organizations serving LaGrange County are eligible to apply in six areas: arts & culture, recreation, health and human services, community development, education and environment.  

Spring Cycle DeadlineFall Cycle Deadline
April 3, 2023September 1, 2023

Previous Community Impact Grants have ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 per award.  

Applications can be submitted online at

Contact Program Director Leanna Martin at with questions about the application process or call 260-463-4363.

Finalists selected for 2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship

The top five finalists for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship are, from left, Paige Riegsecker, Manisha Ramachandran, Ella Clarke, Kamryn Miller and Ethan Hibbs.

Five LaGrange County high school seniors have been named finalists for the 2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. The prestigious award goes to an outstanding high school senior in LaGrange County.

The 2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship including a $900 book stipend per year, for four years to any accredited college or university in Indiana.

Finalists for the award are Ella Clark of Westview High School, daughter of William and Carrie Clark; Ethan Hibbs of Westview High School, son of Cliff and Sandy Hibbs ; Kamryn Miller of Westview High School, daughter of Brian and Brooke Miller; Manisha Ramachandran of Lakeland High School, daughter of Anand and Teresa Ramachandran, and Paige Riegsecker of Westview High School, daughter of Ryan and Jodi Riegsecker.

The scholarship is awarded to one well-rounded LaGrange County graduating senior who exemplifies service and leadership in their community, while maintaining a commitment to academics.

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.

After a competitive application process that evaluates academics, community and school activities, leadership, and written essays, the finalists are interviewed by the Foundation’s Lilly Scholarship Advisory Committee. The results of the interview round are combined with the application round to determine the 2023 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 mid-December. The four remaining finalists will each receive a $1,000 renewable four-year scholarship from the Lambright Leadership Scholarship Fund, established by Kevin and Carrie Lambright in 2013.

Year-End Giving Tips

There are many ways to integrate charitable giving into your financial planning at the end of 2021. The LaGrange County Community Foundation can help. Each of these options can help you make a meaningful difference! Be sure to make your gifts by the deadlines for a 2021 deduction (see deadlines below).

Leverage Your Gift: The Next 30 Years Matching Campaign

Leverage your year-end giving to endowed funds at the LaGrange County Community Foundation. The Foundation has set aside $30,000 to match gifts to permanent endowment funds. Donors can designate gifts to multiple funds; gifts will be matched one-to-one, up to a total gift amount of $3,000 per household/individual.

Gifts of Appreciated Stock

A gift of appreciated stock is a good option to benefit a nonprofit with a direct gift and benefit the donor with an income tax deduction and capital gains tax savings. To make a gift of stock, please contact our office at 260-463-4363. Stock gifts must be made by Monday, December 27.

IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)

If you are 70 1/2 or older, you can make a gift from your IRA account to LCCF for the causes you care about. Gifts made from your IRA (up to $100,000 per year) are not taxable income. If you are 72 or older in the year of the distribution, your gift qualifies towards your RMD. If you are married, your spouse can also make a gift of up to $100,000 from his or her IRA, for a total of $200,000.

Gifts to donor advised funds are not eligible. You can contribute to designated, agency, field of interest funds at LCCF or to the Caring Community Grantmaking Fund (the unrestricted grantmaking endowment).

2021 Year-End Giving Deadlines

  • Last day for 2021 grant recommendations from donor advised funds: 10 a.m. Monday, December 27.
  • Gifts sent to LCCF must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 31.
  • Credit card gifts must be made before 12 midnight Friday, December 31.
  • Gifts of stock must be received in LCCF accounts by Monday, December 27.

Donor Advised Fund Holders

To ensure that your year-end grants are sent out by December 31, the deadline for recommending grants for 2021 is 10 a.m. Monday, December 27.

LCCF Holiday Schedule

  • Thursday, December 23 – closed
  • Friday, December 24 – closed
  • Thursday, December 30 – closed
  • Friday, December 30 – closed

All other days we will be available to serve you during regular business hours 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please note, our office closes daily for lunch from 12-1 p.m.

Questions About Year-End Giving?

We invite you to contact Octavia Yoder, Executive Director, at 260-463-4363 or email

The Knights of Pythias donate $55,000 to the LaGrange County Community Foundation

The LaGrange Knights of Pythias Lodge No. 144 disbanded after 128 years and donated $55,000 to create an unrestricted endowment fund at the LaGrange County Community Foundation. The fund will support community grantmaking and address needs in the community. From left, in front, are past LCCF board president George Brown, Knights of Pythias members Mahlon Bontrager, Allen Connelly, Richard Long, the late Duane L. Sams, Tom Atwater and current LCCF board president Neal Wolheter. In row two, from left, are LCCF Interim Executive Director Dave Bennett, Knights of Pythias members Gordon Olds, Ken Bousner, Mike Farber, the late Harvey Lambright, Roger Olds and Myron Sharp.

LaGrange Lodge no. 144 creates permanent unrestricted endowment

As the Knights of Pythias LaGrange Lodge no. 144 closed the chapter on a 128-year-old history in 2018, the creation of a permanent endowment fund at the LaGrange County Community Foundation will allow their charitable legacy to live forever.

In December, the Knights donated $55,000 to create a permanent unrestricted endowment at the Community Foundation. While the fund will provide long-term support for community grantmaking, their gift also will be matched 2-for-1 through a matching grant from Lilly Endowment.

The Knight’s search for a meaningful gift came at an opportune time: it was a rare chance for the Knights to triple their gift and create a permanent charitable legacy. The Endowment is providing $2 for every $1 contributed to LaGrange County Community Foundation unrestricted endowments during the matching period, October 1, 2018, through December 31, 2020, up to $500,000. 

With the Lilly 2-for-1 match, the Knights’ gift now becomes $165,000. The income from the fund will support charitable projects in LaGrange County as determined by the LCCF Board of Directors.

“The members of our Lodge no. 144 feel very fortunate to have our donation grow and benefit several organizations thanks to the LaGrange County Community Foundation,” said Gordon Olds, a Knights of Pythias member.   

 “We are humbled by the generosity of the Knights of Pythias. Their gift establishes a permanent legacy and will provide long-term funding to nonprofits working to improve LaGrange County,” said Octavia Yoder, LaGrange County Community Foundation Associate Director. “We are thankful for their partnership and support in the Lilly Endowment matching grant.”

The Knights of Pythias

Chartered on October 16, 1890, the Knights of Pythias are one of the oldest fraternal organizations in LaGrange County.

In 1912, the group began meeting in the upstairs of what is today Foltz Bakery. In those early days, the meeting space contained ornate furniture, velvet robes, oil paintings and valuable memorabilia with gemstones. Those items were used during the Knights’ induction ceremonies. The Knights sold the building in 2008.  

Among their philanthropic interests, the Knights of Pythias count many as beneficiaries. They sponsored Little League Baseball teams, the LaGrange County Police Department, Special Olympics, ARC Opportunities, LaGrange County Council on Aging, LaGrange County 4-H, Clothes and Food Basket, Habitat for Humanity, Reason 4 Hope, LaGrange County Historical Society, United Fund of LaGrange County, ARK Animal Rescue, Youth for Christ, Relay for Life, Night to Shine and Agape Mission.

Their most popular fundraiser was selling Plyley’s caramel apples at Corn School.

While Knights of Pythias focused on supporting local needs, much of the draw for its members was the social aspect of the club. Being a part of the lodge was a tradition the members did not take lightly; many members today had grandfathers who were also a part of the lodge.

The Knights can count among their group eight 50-year members: Duane Billman, Allen Connelly, Gordon Frost, Richard Long, Jack Olds, Roger Olds, and the late Harvey Lambright and Duane Sams.

One member said as a young boy his father worked in the fields from dawn until dusk, but made the Knights meeting a priority. Even when the weather was impassible with blowing snow and ice, members trudged through knee-deep drifts of snow.

Before his passing, the late Duane Sams shared with the Community Foundation his proudest moment as a 50-year member: pinning a 50-year pin on his grandfather. Not many members had Sam’s privilege.

With the Knights’ gift to the Community Foundation, their charitable legacy will live forever.