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.

"Wonder" Movie Event with Special Guest Speaker Dr. Michael Goodman

Join us for a free outdoor showing of the hit movie “Wonder” (PG) on August 1, 2018 at 7:30 PM at the Porter Health Amphitheater, Central Park Plaza, Downtown Valparaiso.   

Dr. Michael Goodman

“Wonder” is a heartwarming story about a young boy, August (Auggie) Pullman, who was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. The movie follows Auggie as he enters public school for the first time.

Special guest, Dr. Michael Goodman, will share his story before the movie. Like Auggie from the film, Dr. Goodman was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. After overcoming many similar challenges in his own life, Dr. Goodman learned a hard lesson…you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Dr. Goodman is a graduate of Valparaiso High School. After completing his undergrad in Iowa, he went on to medical school in Indianapolis. He is now a pediatrician with Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

This is a free, family-friendly event open to the public. Please bring your own blankets and chairs. This event is brought to you by the Porter County Community Foundation, Merrill Lynch Bank of America– The Braggs Team, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana.

Foundation Awards 2018 Scholarships

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 356 scholarships to Porter County students.

The 2018 recipients are:

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars 2018

The Porter County Community Foundation has awarded 82 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships to Porter County students since 1998. This scholarship pays full tuition and fees to any college or university in the state of Indiana and $900 each year for books. The 2018 recipients of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships are: (left to right) Alaynah Chatman (Portage High School), Robert Walker (Washington Township High School), and Abigail Koster (Chesterton High School).

Community Scholars 2018

Porter County is fortunate to have businesses and individuals who value the importance of education. Thanks to the generosity of NIPSCO, the Plesac Family Scholarship Fund, the Larry and Jerilyn Klemz Scholarship Fund, the Largura Family Scholarship Fund and the Tom and Alice Roberts Scholarship Fund, a $1,000 scholarship was awarded to each of the following recipients: (left to right) Jayson Heinold (Kouts High School), Austyn Pryatel (Morgan Township High School), Natalie Dowdy (Andrean High School), Sam Klumpe (Valparaiso High School), Emily Horsley (LaCrosse High School), and Mickayla Edmaiston (Portage High School). Not pictured: Kayla Rivera (Wheeler High School) and Thomas Gotsch (Marquette High School).

Siegsmund Scholar 2018

The Chesterton High School Class of 1958 established the Harlan A. Siegsmund Liberty Township Alumni Scholarship in honor of their longtime principal. The scholarship is awarded to a graduate of Chesterton High School with a preference given to residents of Liberty Township. This year’s recipient is Rigoberto Alvarez, Jr. (Chesterton High School) pictured here with Ed Seykowski, a member of the class, who was instrumental in creating this scholarship.

PCCF Scholars 2018

Each year, the Porter County Community Foundation provides $4,000 scholarships to Porter County students. The 2018 recipients are: (left to right) Madison Nondorf (Valparaiso High School) and Lexi Sroka (Hebron High School). Not pictured: Alex Reed (Boone Grove High School).

PCCTE Scholars 2018

The Foundation and the Porter County Career and Technical Education Center have worked together since 2008 to award scholarships to their students. The recipients for 2018 are: (left to right) Joshua Chew, Cailee Hodges, Jacob Wells, Cameron Chapman and Abigail Vargas, with Jon Groth (Director of the Porter County Career and Technical Education Center). Not Pictured: Bridget McGrath and Tyler Smolar.

Bricker Scholar 2018

Georgia Bricker, whose husband, Tom, passed away in 2006, established a scholarship in memory of him. This year’s recipient is Kelsey Fleming (Washington Township High School).

Moyer Scholar 2018

Shawn Moyer was a 1999 recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. During his sophomore year at Taylor University, Shawn lost his battle with cancer. The remaining balance of his scholarship was endowed to create this award for Kouts High School graduates. This year’s recipient, Hannah Maier (Kouts High School), is pictured here with Nick and Bev Moyer, Shawn’s parents.

Annual Women’s Tea Celebrates Women’s Philanthropy in Porter County

“When is the last time you have done something for 522 days,” said Stephanie Jones, to the 234 women in attendance at the 17th Annual Women’s Tea hosted by the Porter County Community Foundation.

Stephanie Jones at the Women's Tea

“Something that you love; that you’re passionate about?” she asked the crowd. For Stephanie, what started out as a New Year’s Resolution turned into an ongoing, philanthropic adventure. For 522 days straight, Stephanie gave a gift.

“My definition of a ‘gift’ is when you give something and expect nothing in return,” said Stephanie.  As she spoke of her intentional, sometimes serendipitous gifts given away throughout this journey to family, friends or even complete strangers, she explained how this challenge really stretched her, in more ways than she could have imagined.

“Giving stretches you in your goals, gratitude, and giving,” said Stephanie. “Giving to someone else is a way to show gratitude; to say thank you to those in your life, whether it’s with your time, talents, or money.”

Stephanie shared her inspirational journey and challenged those in attendance to stretch themselves by giving a philanthropic gift to the Women’s Fund of Porter County and help make a difference in the lives of women and children, right here in our community.

Impact Porter County is a giving circle associated with the Porter County Community Foundation.  “Impact Porter County has a simple and ambitious goal,” said Bill Higbie, President & CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “To raise $100,000 annually, half of which would be given away immediately to causes that support women and children; the other half would be endowed to continue helping organizations forever.” 

“What you have done here is pretty crazy,” said Bill Higbie.  Today, more than $500,000 has been awarded in Women’s Fund grants to nonprofits in Porter County.  The Women’s Fund now holds nearly $800,000 in an endowed fund, ensuring that the positive impact will continue forever. “Thank you for being crazy generous,” added Higbie.   

Stephanie Jones is an author, speaker, and life coach.  As a fearless changemaker, she’s been a private investigator, police officer, and senior manager in a Fortune 100 company.  Stephanie is a member of Impact Porter County and serves as a board member for the Porter County Community Foundation.

If you would like to learn more about Impact Porter County, view recent grant recipients, or find out how you can help make a difference, visit

Women's Tea
Women's Tea 2017
Stephanie Jones Signing
Women's Tea 2017

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 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.