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Editorial: Community foundations deserve praise, thanks

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The Indiana General Assembly recently honored the country’s community foundations on the 100th anniversary of their creation. The concept has been alive in Indiana for 98 years and in Johnson County for more than 20 years.

A resolution honoring community foundations and the work they do to improve the lives of local folks was adopted by the Indiana Senate on Feb. 24.

“We want to celebrate all the good work being done by community foundations throughout America and especially right here in Indiana,” said state Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. “The generosity of countless donors and partner organizations continues to make life better for all of us.”

The community foundation movement traces its origins to Cleveland, giving birth to a new form of philanthropy, according to the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance.

Nationwide, community foundations now number more than 800, including the Johnson County Community Foundation.

The first community foundation in Indiana was established in Indianapolis in 1916. The state has seen more growth in community foundations than others, the alliance said, largely a result of an effort 23 years ago by Lilly Endowment to expand the growth of community foundations and those already established in the Hoosier state.

Today, 94 community foundations and county affiliate funds serve every county in the state.

Johnson County residents and others across Indiana have helped the foundations build a combined $2 billion in managed assets statewide. Assets for Johnson County Community Foundation have grown to more than

$20 million in 250-plus funds. The gifts help endowment funds grow to the benefit of communities large and small, projects large and small, all while building personal legacies, ensuring that your hard-earned savings can help others, both while you’re living and long afterward.

“Community foundations are local nonprofit organizations run and led by local residents who have an in-depth understanding of the issues, opportunities and resources that shape their community,” said Marissa Manlove, president and CEO of Indiana Philanthropy Alliance. “Indiana’s community foundations are collectively among the largest instruments for community good in the country.”

The alliance is a nonprofit membership association for Indiana’s private, family, community and corporate foundations, corporate giving programs and other grantmaking organizations. In 2012, community foundation grants in Indiana totaled approximately $117 million.

Locally, in the last round of awards, nearly $100,000 in grants were awarded to 23 organizations and initiatives.

In 1989, community leaders established the Pride and Progress Foundation of Greater Greenwood — with hopes of raising money to improve the cultural and educational opportunities.

Shortly into the Foundation’s efforts, organizers realized the benefits of including all reaches of the county, and reorganized the group into the Johnson County Community Foundation in 1991.

The Johnson County Community Foundation has provided a positive effect and wide embrace of our community as it lives up to its mission statement: To enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Johnson County, now and for generations to come, by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on key community issues.

The local foundation and the 93 other foundations and affiliate offices in Indiana deserve a thanks, as do the donors who have contributed to the good of our communities.

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