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.

2018 Women’s Fund Grants Awarded

On Thursday, May 10, members of Impact Porter County met at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton to award their annual grants from the Women’s Fund of Porter County. Impact Porter County is a giving circle associated with the Porter County Community Foundation whose goal is to make a positive and lasting influence in the community by awarding grants to Porter County nonprofits whose mission is to improve the quality of life for women and children.  

Impact Porter County 2018 Grants

Over $50,000 in grants was awarded at the annual membership dinner on Thursday evening. Gabriel’s Horn Homeless Shelter and Hilltop Neighborhood House each were awarded a high-impact grant of $25,000. The other finalists, Dunebrook, Inc. and Frontline Foundations, each received a $2,500 grant.

Gabriel’s Horn is a shelter that serves all of Porter County and provides temporary housing for homeless women and children. In addition, they provide assistance in finding permanent housing, jobs, counseling and more.  The funds Gabriel’s Horn received will go towards the expansion of their current facility that will assist up to 50 more people annually.

Hilltop Neighborhood House serves the community by providing early childhood education, after-school programming, and a food pantry.  The funds awarded through the Women’s Fund of Porter County will be used to launch their mobile food pantry, Project 64. There are 64 hours from the time kids leave school on Friday until school starts on Monday, and for some children, access to food during that time is limited.  Hilltop’s plan is to bring the food pantry directly to those children and families in need. 

Duneland Family YMCA Grant

The Duneland Family YMCA was the recipient of a community fund grant from the Porter County Community Foundation.

The funds awarded helped equip the Duneland Family YMCA’s Early Learning Academy 5 year old classroom. The items purchased included new furniture creating a comfortable and safe learning environment, interactive play sets like a dress-up unit to inspire creativity & spark the imagination, along with other supplies that focus on using small and large motor skills.

The new classroom materials were specifically selected to follow the Paths to Quality system standards, which is Indiana’s state-wide child care quality rating and improvement system. The goal of the Early Learning Academy program is to engage kids, from six-weeks old to pre-school, in daily age-appropriate learning and development activities, helping to ensure they will be ready for kindergarten.

Neighborlink Awarded Grant

The Porter County Community Foundation recently awarded a grant to NeighborLink Porter County, an organization that provides assistance to those in need.

NeighborLink Grant

NeighborLink is a nonprofit that connects Porter County residents who need assistance with those that can help.  Volunteers join together to complete various projects for those in need in the community.  

“Keeping the marginalized in Porter County safe, clean, warm and dry through our network of volunteers and business partnerships is one of our top priorities,” said Judy Alders, Executive Director of NeighborLink Porter County.  “The award of grant funds will allow us to be more far-reaching in our efforts to help those in need living in our communities. We so appreciate our relationship with the Porter County Community Foundation and all of those who give so graciously to their endeavors.” 

The funds from the grant will help cover expenses to be sure the necessary projects can be completed.  The types of projects might include yard work, transportation services, appliance repair, building wheelchair ramps, plumbing projects and more.  You can find out more about NeighborLink Porter County by visiting their website    

MAAC First Responder Training Facility

The Porter County Community Foundation awarded a grant to the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative (MAAC), an organization that provides training for area firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel.

The MAAC Public Safety Training campus has been established on a 4 ½ acre parcel in Southeast Valparaiso.  This facility will house various training structures including a 40-foot search and rescue tower, a 2-story live burn building, vehicle extrication pad, indoor classrooms and more.  

“The goal is to make sure our first responders have the resources and training necessary to be prepared to respond to calls and come to our assistance on, what would likely be, one of our worst days,” says Celina Weatherwax, President of The McMillan Family Foundation Inc.  “Through a combination of classroom and practical, hands-on application, the MAAC Training campus will provide advanced levels of critical thinking and functioning in response to an emergency.”

“The Foundation is honored to play a part in the development of this essential facility,” says Bill Higbie, President & CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “This training space will directly impact thousands of first responders and will be a game-changer when it comes to training law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, and Firefighters who keep our community safe.”

Porter County Community Foundation Awards Grant to Family House

The Porter County Community Foundation awarded a Community Fund grant to Family House, Inc. – an organization that provides a safe home-like environment for non-custodial parents to spend time with their children.

Family House Grant 2017

This funding will help Family House expand their services, further strengthening our community by supporting the development of strong families. “Family House provides sliding scale support for Supervised Visitation and Counseling for Children and Families that otherwise can't afford such services,” said Christine Kostbade, Executive Director of Family House. “Many families give up or don't follow through because they can't afford to pay for services.  We don't want to see children left without a safe opportunity to see their parent and a chance for the parent(s) to improve their skills, with hopes to get their children home again.” Family House provides over 3000 visit hours annually to children and parents in our community. 

Two Portage Nonprofits Receive Grant From Porter County Community Foundation

The Porter County Community Foundation recently awarded two Community Fund grants to Portage nonprofits, Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities and the Portage Township YMCA.

NEO Grant 2016
Portage Township YMCA Grant 2017

Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities used the funds to purchase computers, “smart boards” and other equipment to outfit their classrooms and help launch their college and workplace readiness program. This program includes onsite training opportunities for students as well as certification programs for those continuing their education or entering the workplace.   

With their grant funding, the Portage Township YMCA was able to start an after school drug prevention program for students in Kindergarten through 6th grade. The Portage Township YMCA wishes to help combat the issue of substance abuse by providing a safe place for kids to go after school while being educated on the real dangers of drug use through an evidence-based drug prevention curriculum.

Grants Awarded to Two Nonprofit Organizations Benefiting Wildlife and the Arts

The Porter County Community Foundation awarded two grants, one to the Art Barn School of Art and the other to Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center – a subsidiary of the Humane Society Calumet Area. 

Art Barn School of Art Grant
Moraine Ridge Wildlife Grant

With the funds, the Art Barn School of Art was able to host adult art workshops for community members to attend.  The funds provided the art supplies for the classes, scholarships for local artists to attend the classes, and brought in nationally known professional artists to teach the workshops.

Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center used the funds to host Wildlife Live Animal Education Programs for children and Porter County residents of all ages. Through these programs with hands-on educational opportunities, community members learn about Indiana’s native wildlife and gain an understanding of the impact that our daily lives have on our native species.

Three Hebron Nonprofits Each Received Grant from Porter County Community Foundation

Recently, the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department, Rebuilding Together Hebron and Call-A-Ride each received a Community Fund grant from the Porter County Community Foundation.

Hebron Vol. Fire Department
Call A Ride Grant
Rebuilding Together Hebron Grant

The funding allowed the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a Paratech Rescue Airbag system, designed to extricate victims who are trapped, and also purchase a Stearns Ice Rescue Suit which protects the first-responder during icy conditions and water rescues.  Rebuilding Together Hebron used the funds to purchase building materials for local project homes, and Call-A-Ride used the funds for fuel costs to continue the expansion of their free services to clients.

Reins of Life Awarded Community Fund Grant from Porter County Community Foundation

The Porter County Community Foundation awarded a Community Fund grant to Reins of Life, a therapeutic horseback riding center, in Michigan City. This nonprofit organization serves clients of all ages with physical, emotional, mental and social disabilities, many of whom travel from Porter County to participate in their programs.

Reins of Life

The funding allowed them to insulate the ceiling in the main arena, install insulated light covers and eliminate a gap between the walls and the ceiling.  These improvements will increase the energy efficiency and comfort level in the riding arena, allowing the Reins of Life team to expand opportunities for equine assisted therapeutic riding sessions.   

Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department Purchases Four Computers with Grant from Porter County Community Foundation

The Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department was awarded a Community Fund Grant from the Porter County Community Foundation. The grant funding allowed them to purchase four Panasonic Toughbook Computers.

Liberty Township Fire Department Grant

The new electronics will be securely placed in each of the department’s trucks, enhancing communication with the dispatch center and surrounding agencies.

These computers are capable of adapting to enhancements in the County’s 9-1-1 dispatch system and will help the fire department fulfill its mission to protect life, property and the environment.

Center of Workforce Innovations Receives Grant from Porter County Community Foundation

The Porter County Community Foundation selected the Center of Workforce Innovations to receive a Community Fund Grant to support the Women’s Adult Learning and High School Equivalency (HSE) Program at the Porter County Jail.

Center of Workforce Innovations Grant

In 2014, the Center of Workforce Innovations started a small adult education program in the jail which has since assisted over 145 students. As the women’s interest in the program grew stronger, the Center of Workforce Innovations, along with the Porter County Sherriff’s Department and Sheriff David Reynolds, saw the need for the program to expand. The funds will help fund instruction costs and the HSE (formerly GED) test fees for the female students.

The Center of Workforce Innovations is a catalyst for community and business investment in workforce, education, and economic development to build and enhance collective capacity to succeed in a new global economy.

Porter County Community Foundation Presents Grant to Shirley Heinze Land Trust

Shirley Heinze Land Trust was selected to receive a Community Fund Grant from the Porter County Community Foundation to help purchase a much-needed snow plow.   

Shirley Heinze Land Trust Grant

"Support from the Porter County Community Foundation for the new snow plow is yet another way the Foundation is so integral to the success of our work," said Kris Krouse, Executive Director of Shirley Heinze Land Trust. "This equipment will help us maintain year-round access to Meadowbrook Conservation Center and Nature Preserve and to Shirley Heinze Land Trust preserves throughout the region."

Currently the staff has been using a small ATV and hand shovels to clear snow. With this new plow the team can not only clear the main parking areas more efficiently, but also roads that lead to trails for winter hikers and cross-country skiers.

Shirley Heinze Land Trust is comprised of volunteers, donors, professionals, business and industry, working together to preserve, protect and restore significant natural areas in Northwest Indiana. Their mission is to educate, inspire and invite the public to experience the natural wonders of our unique region.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County Receives Grant from Porter County Community Foundation

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County recently received a grant from the Porter County Community Foundation’s Community Fund. The organization has used the funds to partner with the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, to assess the current programs offered at all four of the Club locations.

Boys & Girls Clubs Grant

The assessment will focus on measuring and evaluating the quality of the current youth programs as well as identify staff-training needs to better strengthen the club operations and club experience.

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County is to inspire and enable the youth of our communities to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The organization serves youth ages 5 to 18 years throughout all of Porter County.

: Porter County Community Foundation Presents Grants to Porter County Nonprofits

The Porter County Community Foundation recently awarded grants from its Community Fund to several nonprofit organizations. Grantees are selected through a competitive application process open to 501(c)(3) agencies serving Porter County.

F & Y Services Bureau Grant

The Family & Youth Services Bureau was awarded a grant that provided the necessary funds to have a new roof installed on their downtown Valparaiso building.  

The Independent Cat Society is a non-profit, cage-less, no-kill cat shelter that has promoted the welfare of all animals, especially cats, since 1976. In conjunction with the TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) Community Cat Clinic and local Porter County Veterinarians, the funds from the grant will help spay or neuter 100 cats or dogs in our community.  

PC Association for Handicapped Children & Adults

Porter County Association for Handicapped Children and Adults received funds to help make a difference and improve their clients’ daily lives.  With the funds, this organization can purchase custom devices necessary for individual clients that Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance won’t cover. This equipment will help children and adults enjoy everyday activities with their families in a more inclusive manner.

Porter-Starke used the funds to support their InSHAPE program that is designed to improve the physical health and wellness of people with mental illness. Participants met weekly, developed individual fitness plans, exercised, and learned about nutrition & healthy eating.  The YMCA partnered with Porter-Starke to help make this nationally-recognized program possible here in Porter County.

Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation received funds to bring a real-life storytelling event to Northwest Indiana’s Memorial Opera House, which was selected as the host site for all of Chicagoland. The performance, “This is My Brave”, is part of a national campaign to raise awarness of mental health issues.  

The Knights of Columbus’ Bike Project - founded by Mark Siminiski - received funds to purchase parts that will help repair donated bikes. These bikes are restored and then given away through various organizations to kids who may have only dreamed of having their own bike.    

The Portage Resale shop needed new furnaces for their building, which still had its original systems from the 1960’s.  With the community fund grant, the new heating system is in place allowing the organization to heat the building more efficiently and expand their work into areas of the building that were previously unusable.

Kouts Fire Department Grant

The Kouts Volunteer Fire Department received a Community Fund Grant to purchase eight new nozzles for this all-volunteer fire department. Replacing this critical equipment will enhance delivery of water in an emergency situation and creates uniformity of the nozzles on all five trucks.  The grant also enabled them to purchase a hose washer and two adapter valves.

The flooring in the activity & dining room of St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center was original to the building and had cracked and lifted after 19 years of wear and tear, resulting in a safety hazard for their clients and visitors. The new flooring is a non-slip surface that is level, and was purposefully chosen in a neutral color, allowing all participants to feel comfortable when entering the room.