About the Community Foundation
Our Mission: To Inspire and Sustain Generosity, Leadership, and Service in LaGrange County.
The LaGrange County Community Foundation connects people to charitable causes and provides resources to nonprofits to make a lasting and sustainable impact.
As a 501 (c) (3) public charity, we serve as a catalyst for positive change and betterment in LaGrange County. Since our founding in 1991, we have grown to $14 million in assets, which provides ongoing funding for charitable organizations and projects in LaGrange County.
Through the power of community philanthropy, we offer local citizens the opportunity to leave a legacy in LaGrange County by creating permanent endowments.
Our board of local community members identify current and emerging issues and use our resources to address local needs through grants and scholarships. We leverage gifts and bequests from generous donors to drive positive change.
Established in 1991 ...
The LaGrange County Community Foundation was established in 1991. A group of nine visionary leaders started the foundation to make a lasting difference in the community. The Board of Directors consisted of Larry Jackson, Paul Hostetler Jr., Kevin Lambright, Dr. Kenneth Lehman, Gene Mory, Miles Perkins, LeRoy Schultess, Elsie Willard and Phil Yunker. One of the founding board members, Elsie Willard served as Executive Director from 1991-1994. She would regularly donate her salary back to the foundation each year. She also founded the LaGrange County Public Library Fund, the Cultural Arts of LaGrange County Fund and the LaGrange County Youth Fund. With a bequest from the Elsie Willard estate, the community foundation created the Willard Family Community Fund.
In 1994 Evelyn Evers was named the new Executive Director. At that time there were ten restricted funds and three unrestricted funds. During this time $140,000 was received from the Lilly Endowment, Inc grant challenge. The permanent endowment in the foundation’s portfolio was over $450,000. Also, during this time the LaGrange County Commissioners and Council Members approved the transfer of $800,000.00 from the LaGrange County Hospital Fund to LCCF. The transfer enabled the foundation to received $500,000 from the Lilly Endowment challenge. The Lilly Endowment, Inc., has been a significant partner with the foundation for many years.
By 2002 a new Executive Director, Laura Lemings, was named. By this time over 50 scholarships had been established and were awarded to LaGrange County high school graduates providing the means to pursue higher education. Grants totaling $230,000 (including scholarships) were provided to local organizations. At the end of 2004 total assets were over $9.3 million. Laura continued to grow the foundation faithfully for many years, retiring early in 2017 after 15 years of service. The foundation’s total assets were over $14.3 million at the end of 2016.
In April 2017 Jennifer Tuttle accepted the position of Executive Director; celebrating the 25th anniversary of philanthropic service in our community. The foundation was and is committed to continue to focus on their mission which has three important components: generosity, leadership and service.
2017 brought 407 donors creating $907,726 in gifts, total assets at $16.6 million; 165 funds. Highlights of this year included the establishment Franky Sherman 4-H Building Fund, a $10,000 matching grant was awarded to the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce Power of the Purse event to support Boomerang Backpacks and Blessings in a Backpack and Arianna Smith received the 37th Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. Total scholarship dollars awarded in 2017 were $97,050, 114 scholarships were awarded from the community scholarship program, Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship and the Westview Scholarship Program. Community Impact Grants awarded to nonprofits improving LaGrange County totaled $78,610.
In the spring of 2019, Octavia Yoder was named Executive Director and will assume this role later this year, until then she serves as Associated Director and will work with Interim Executive Director, David Bennett.