About the Foundation

Porter County Community Foundation Welcomes New Team Member

The Porter County Community Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of a new staff member, Bonny Hildebrand, who joins the Foundation team as Director of Development & Stewardship.

Bonny Hildebrand

“I’m deeply honored to be joining the Porter County Community Foundation,” says Bonny Hildebrand. “The Foundation plays a huge role in modeling and being a leader in community philanthropy for improving the quality of life right here where we live. It will be a privilege and a joy to work with the exceptional staff, board and community across Porter County to help ensure that our communities remain vital and strong forever.”

Bonny comes to the Foundation from Porter Health Care System where she was most recently the Director of Professional Outreach; Physician Liaison for almost 2 years, working to develop and foster relationships between the hospital and physicians. Before that, Bonny served as the Community Programming & Senior Circle Coordinator for Porter Health Care System for over 4 years.

In addition to her work with Porter Health Care System, Bonny has served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Valparaiso University, she has served as a National Advisory Board Member for Senior Circle and Healthy Woman, and is a member of the Community Impact Team for United Way of Porter County. 

As the Director of Development & Stewardship, Bonny will serve as an ambassador for the Porter County Community Foundation, cultivating the relationship between the organization and community members.  Bonny will provide direction for the Foundation’s relationship-based fundraising programs, as well as their donor engagement and stewardship strategies. 

“Bonny is an excellent fit for our team, she understands who we are as an organization and our mission to ‘do good’ here in Porter County,” says Bill Higbie, President & CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “We are all very excited about working with Bonny, she brings with her great energy and enthusiasm for the Director of Development & Stewardship position where we know she will contribute significantly to our mission.”

Porter County Community Foundation Hosts Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement

On Wednesday evening, the Porter County Community Foundation hosted its Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement at the Porter County Expo Center with over 175 guests in attendance. This event is a special way to celebrate and thank the individuals, community partners, and nonprofits who work so hard each and every day to better our community.

Annual Meeting 2017

In 2016, the Foundation awarded over $2.1 million in grants and scholarships supporting the great work being done by nonprofit agencies and to help kids continue their education. “We are fortunate to live in Porter County – a community that is committed to organizations and the causes they care about at the deepest level possible. The nonprofits here work tirelessly to help make our community a better place,” said Bill Higbie, President and CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “We are honored to get to work with these organizations in various areas – whether it be starting an endowment fund that will benefit the organization well into the future, or by providing meeting space at the Center for Community Philanthropy.”

The remarkable work of nonprofit organizations and individuals was recognized at the Annual Meeting on May 31st, with the 2017 Celebration of Achievement awards. The awards were presented to the following recipients: Dorota Janik, Executive Director at Reins of Life, for Outstanding Nonprofit Staff Member; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County for Outstanding Nonprofit Agency; Portage Township Live Entertainment Association for Outstanding Nonprofit Agency; Margaret Williford, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, for Outstanding Volunteer; and Timothy Rice, Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, for Outstanding Volunteer.

Each winner receives an engraved award recognizing their accomplishment as well as a $1,000 contribution to the organization’s endowment fund with the Foundation, or in the case of individual winners, to an organization’s endowment fund of their choice in their name. 

In addition to the Outstanding Achievement Awards, the Foundation recognized its newest Echo Society members – those who make an endowed lifetime gift or leave assets to the Foundation through a beneficiary designation, a will, or an estate plan – and announced a new program called Promise Porter County.

The new Promise Porter County program makes educational savings a reality by helping families start a CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings account through their school, seeding the account with an initial investment from a local sponsor, and engaging the community to match deposits that the students, families, and champions all contribute to the account. “Promise Porter County is an example of what happens when people care about their community and are willing to commit their energy and resources to making things better,” said Higbie. “It’s not just about setting up an account to save for college; it’s about changing the mindset of families and equipping them with a potentially different vision of themselves.” Promise Porter County will launch this fall at the first grade level in all seven Porter County school corporations.

 “At the Porter County Community Foundation, we gather generosity, grow it through investment, and give it away, all for the good of our community,” said Higbie. “Great things happen when people come together, and together we can commit to honor Porter County’s legacy of generosity in a powerful way.”

Porter County Chosen to Launch Promise Program

College may seem far away to first graders and their families, but this fall, Porter County will bring post-secondary education and careers front of mind through a collaborative effort called “The Promise.” The program makes educational savings a reality by helping families start a CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings account through their school, seeding the account with an initial investment from a local sponsor, and engaging the community to match deposits that the students, families, and champions all contribute to the account. Porter County is honored to be one of four new communities to launch the Promise program, with the support of Promise Indiana and the Indiana Education Savings Authority.  Bob Wanek, CEO of the Valparaiso Family YMCA, and Bill Higbie, CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation, have led the local effort to bring “The Promise” to Porter County.

Promise Porter County

During school registration, The Promise helps families take that first step to start saving, while also integrating college and career discovery activities in the classroom. Pilot counties select a cohort of students to participate, based on community size. The Promise Porter County Steering Committee consisting of local partners including school districts, the community foundation, local businesses and government, economic development groups, and nonprofits, has selected all first graders in the seven county school corporations for the launch.  The generous support of Urschel Laboratories will make it possible for every first grade student to begin the school year with their own college savings account.  There will also be an opportunity for those enrolled to invite champions—friends, family members, neighbors, coaches, and teachers—to invest in their college savings accounts.  A coalition of local partners, including 1st Source Bank, Stewart and Kathryn McMillan, Thorgren Tool and Molding, Porter Health Care System, and the Porter County Community Foundation, will provide a matching deposit to the student’s college savings account during a prescribed period of time.

Youth in the program not only build assets for post-secondary education and learn about college and careers, but they also visit a college campus for a day of interactive learning and dynamic hands-on experiences called “Walk Into My Future.” Valparaiso University will host the event this fall, with college students and faculty leading campus tours and activity stations for elementary-aged youth.

Research from the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion at the University of Kansas shows that youth with a college savings account in their name are between three and four and half times more likely to go to college than those without an account. CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings accounts can be used at any eligible institution—2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, even trade and technical schools.

"It was evident that the team from Porter County had the drive and partnerships to make this a success for the students and families in their community,” said Phil Maurizi, VP of Operations for Promise Indiana. “We look forward to working with all the collaborators to achieve absolute success in their first year, but also to making the Promise program better and stronger with their innovation. Their work will impact not only local youth, but communities around the state of Indiana.”

To date, over 10,000 youth around the state have started a CollegeChoice 529 direct savings account through the Promise program. To learn more visit www.PromiseIndiana.org.  To get involved with Promise Porter County, contact Julie Giorgi at jgiorgi@valpoymca.org or 219-462-4185 ext. 267.