Foundation News

The Women’s Fund of Porter County Awards Two Grants to Local Nonprofits

On Thursday, May 2, 50 women gathered at the Porter County Community Foundation Nonprofit Conference Center to attend the 2019 Annual Membership Meeting for the Women’s Fund of Porter County.

The Women’s Fund of Porter County awards their 2019 grants to Dunebrook Inc. and Dressed for School at their Annual Membership Meeting at the Porter County Community Foundation in Valparaiso. (Left to right) Stephanie Jones (Women’s Fund of Porter County), Lisa Hauser (Dressed for School), Julie Douglas (Dressed for School), Jeanne Ann Cannon (Dunebrook, Inc.), Sara Hoyt (Dunebrook, Inc.) and Bill Higbie (Porter County Community Foundation).

The Women’s Fund of Porter County awards their 2019 grants to Dunebrook Inc. and Dressed for School at their Annual Membership Meeting at the Porter County Community Foundation in Valparaiso. (Left to right) Stephanie Jones (Women’s Fund of Porter County), Lisa Hauser (Dressed for School), Julie Douglas (Dressed for School), Jeanne Ann Cannon (Dunebrook, Inc.), Sara Hoyt (Dunebrook, Inc.) and Bill Higbie (Porter County Community Foundation).

The Women’s Fund embraces the spirit of “Women Helping Women” seeking to improve the lives of women and children in our community.

This year over $50,000 in grants was awarded to local nonprofits. Dunebrook, Inc. and Dressed for School each were awarded a high-impact grant of $25,000. The other finalists, Our Greater Good and The Caring Place, each received a $2,500 grant.

Dunebrook, Inc. educates children and adults about sexual abuse, advocates for children and provides positive family support and education. Dunebrook will use the funds to present child sexual abuse prevention programs - Body Safety and Safer, Smarter Teens - to students, educators and parents in Porter County.

Dressed for School is a new nonprofit in our community that will provide new clothing at no cost to elementary students from low income and in-crisis families in Valparaiso. Qualifying children will get to select one week’s worth of clothing items from a store-like environment. The goal is to help improve self-esteem in children which has been linked to higher success rates in school.

The Women’s Fund of Porter County has now awarded over $600,000 in grants since its inception.  To learn more or to view Women’s Fund impact stories, click here.

Women's Fund 2019 Membership Dinner at the PCCF
Women's Fund of Porter County Members
Women's Fund of Porter County
Stephanie Jones at the Women's Fund of Porter County 2019 Membership Dinner
Women's Fund of Porter County Members 2019
Women's Fund of Porter County Members 2019

Donor Spotlight: Dr. John & Linnea Forchetti

Dr. John and Linnea Forchetti both grew up in Pennsylvania. After graduating from Villanova University, John worked as a lab tech at Methodist Hospital while attending Jefferson Medical School. Linnea was studying to become a nurse at Methodist Hospital when she met John. The two started dating and married in 1961 during John’s last year of medical school.

Dr. John and Linnea Forchetti

Dr. Forchetti served as a medical doctor with the US Navy in the 1960s. Upon returning from the Navy, the couple became Hoosiers when they settled in Chesterton. Dr. Forchetti worked for 8 years in family practice before he returned to school to specialize in cardiology. Linnea was a nurse at St. Anthony’s Hospital where she was a member of the first nurse practitioner class in Lake County. Dr. Forchetti was a founder and partner with Northwest Indiana Cardiovascular Physicians. He also established the PACE Program (a running group for patients of open heart surgery) as part of the cardiac rehab program at what would become Porter Regional Hospital. 

As an avid runner and a strong advocate for living a healthy lifestyle, he encouraged and inspired others to do the same. He has completed 38 marathons, running his first in 1978 and his last at age 65. Dr. Forchetti was the Chesterton High School football team physician for over 40 years. In 2003, he was inducted into the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame for his dedication and years of service with the Trojans.

Today, Dr. Forchetti is a Master Gardener, a civil war buff, and he raises bees with his long-time friend, Tom Roberts. Linnea volunteers with Table of Plenty at St. Pat's in Chesterton, a program that she helped start. The Forchetti’s have 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

Both with a strong passion for the medical field and our community, John & Linnea decided they wanted to do something special for both. Together, they started the Dr. John and Linnea Forchetti Family Nursing Scholarship Fund. This endowed fund will provide financial support to those actively pursuing a nursing degree. What a wonderful legacy of generosity and kindness!

Setting up a named scholarship fund is a great way to show support for youth in Porter County. Your scholarship fund will make a difference in the lives of students, helping them pursue their passion and easing the burden of educational costs. It is also a great way to honor or remember a loved one.

New Girls’ Giving Fund Awards Grant to Local Nonprofit

On Thursday, October 18, over 20 girls and their families gathered at the Porter County Community Foundation for the inaugural Girls’ Giving Fund Grant Celebration to award their first-ever grant to a local nonprofit.

Members of the Girls’ Giving Fund awarded their first-ever grant to the Porter County Parks Department at their inaugural grant celebration event.

Members of the Girls’ Giving Fund awarded their first-ever grant to the Porter County Parks Department at their inaugural grant celebration event.

The Girls’ Giving Fund is a newly established giving circle with the Porter County Community Foundation, made up of 7 to 13 year old girls from all over Porter County. The circle was launched in the spring of 2018 to empower young givers with the knowledge that they can make a difference in our community and allow this new generation to experience the joy of giving.

Twenty-six girls each raised at least $100, collectively bringing in $3,000. Thanks to the generosity of a local donor, $1,000 was added to their total, allowing the girls to award a $4,000 grant that evening.

The first-ever Girls’ Giving Fund grant was awarded to the Porter County Parks Department. The other finalists, Memorial Opera House and Our Greater Good, each received a $500 grant.

In addition, two local donors each gave $1,000 to start the Girls’ Giving Fund Endowment, ensuring the girls can continue to make a difference in Porter County forever.

“It’s really encouraging to see kids get excited about giving and the impact it has on our community,” said Bill Higbie, President and CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “Each one of these 26 girls did something creative to raise $100. Collectively, they were able to make a significant gift to the Porter County Parks which benefits countless people from all over our community”.

If you know of a young woman who is interested in participating in the Girls’ Giving Fund, please click here for more information.

Porter County Farmers Gift of Grain Chili Day - October 19, 2018

Porter County Farmers are invited to attend the Gift of Grain Chili Day at the Co-Alliance Elevator in Malden on Friday, October 19, 2018 from 10 AM – 2 PM.

Gift of Grain Committee Members (left to right) Tim Stoner, Brad Metzger, Jane Maxwell, and Joe Cannon.

Gift of Grain Committee Members (left to right) Tim Stoner, Brad Metzger, Jane Maxwell, and Joe Cannon.

A free homemade chili lunch and sweets will be served. Information about how farmers can support our community through the Gift of Grain program will also be available.

The Gift of Grain program was started in 2017 as a way for local farmers to use grain to help families in Porter County start saving for their kids’ college education. The program supports Promise Porter County, an initiative that helps families with first grade students invest in a CollegeChoice 529 savings account.

Gift of Grain is also investing in a permanently endowed fund. The Agricultural Community Initiative Fund, at the Porter County Community Foundation, will help ensure there will be resources available to meet future needs in our community.

Gift of Grain committee member and Porter County farmer, Tim Stoner, says “This program is unique in that it has a double benefit; it allows us to support Promise Porter County today and build an endowment to contribute to future projects as they develop.”

While chili will be available on October 19, gifts of grain can be made anytime. This is an ongoing project that encourages farmers to participate at the time of year that is best for them.

“The partnership between local farmers and the Porter County Community Foundation is really special,” said Foundation President & CEO, Bill Higbie. “It’s a great example of how investing today grows tomorrow.”

A gift of grain can be an easy, tax-efficient way to support local causes in our community. For more information about the Gift of Grain program, visit

In the event of rain, the Gift of Grain Chili Day will be on Friday, October 26.

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 Awards 27 Scholarships at Annual Banquet

As one chapter comes to a close, a new one is just beginning for the 27 talented high school seniors recognized at the Porter County Community Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Banquet. Since 1998, the Foundation has presented 332 scholarships to Porter County students.

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars

Three Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships were awarded this year to Robert Kreloff of Valparaiso High School, Elizabeth Palmer of Kouts High School and Sam Soucie of Washington Township High School. This scholarship pays full tuition and fees to any college or university in the state of Indiana, as well as $900 each year for books. In total, the Foundation has awarded 79 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships since inception, totaling over $4 million. The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships are the result of a statewide initiative by Lilly Endowment Inc. to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana, support Indiana’s community foundations in their mission to enhance quality of life, and 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.    

PCCF Scholars

The Porter County Community Foundation awarded Keiggan Lange of Boone Grove High School, Sonny Hammonds of Chesterton High School, and Jordan Powell of Andrean High School, each a $4,000 scholarship.

NIPSCO Scholars

NIPSCO partnered with the Foundation to provide $1,000 scholarships to Emily Lazarek of Marquette Catholic High School, Kadie Spoor of Wheeler High School, Nicole Pomeroy of Michigan City High School, Marybeth Scheibel of Valparaiso High School, Anastasia Miller of Chesterton High School, Andrew Briggs of Hebron High School, Sofia Serrano of Portage High School, Samantha Haywood of Portage High School and Caitlin Clute of Morgan Township High School.

PCCTEC Scholars

Each year, the Porter County Community Foundation awards $1,000 scholarships to students who attend the Porter County Career and Technical Center. The recipients for this year are Emmalee Deardurff, Alexis Farnum, Brieana Kraus, Amber Rardin, Alexus Reyes, Kyle Stowers, Abigail Street, Jordyn Windsor and Kyle Wolfe.

Bricker Scholar
Harlan A. Siegsmund Scholar

Three special scholarships were created as a legacy for the person or family whose name they carry and will last into perpetuity. The Harlan A. Siegesmund Liberty Township Alumni Scholarship was awarded to Lindsey Burgess of Chesterton High School.  This scholarship was established by the Liberty Township High School Class of 1958 to honor their long-time principal Mr. Siegesmund. The Tom and Georgia Bricker Scholarship was awarded to Abigail Street of Valparaiso High School. This scholarship was created by Georgia, a school teacher, to honor her late husband Tom. Lastly, the Shawn Moyer Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Kyla Roney of Kouts High School. Shawn Moyer was a 1999 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar who passed away during his sophomore year at Taylor University. Lilly Endowment and the Foundation endowed the remaining balance of Shawn’s scholarship to create this award for graduates of Kouts High School.

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  To get involved with Promise Porter County, contact Julie Giorgi at or 219-462-4185 ext. 267.