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Local foundation wants to focus grant-making efforts

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By Vince Luecke

PERRY COUNTY - Since its founding in 1993, the Perry County Community Foundation has helped bring more than $4 million into the community in support of fire and police departments, college scholarships and various youth programs. The money has served a wide cross-section of the county, reaching, in at least some way, nearly everyone who lives and works in the county.

Now, the foundation's leaders want to refocus their grant-making efforts in hopes of making an even bigger difference. And they're seeking the community's input.

"We're looking to make a real impact in the community by being able to focus funds on one particular issue where we can really promote positive change," said Kim Embrey, director of the community foundation.

The proposal to focus grant-making onto a single community issue or opportunity will allow the foundation, and those who have invested in it, to make lasting changes within the county, board President Joe Kress said. Gathering public input will also lead to more community involvement and a greater appreciation of how community foundations can effect change.

"I look at it as a way we can bring the community together and solve community problems," Kress said.

The foundation has been successful over the years in generating support from the community through monetary gifts. A sizable percentage of that money has been placed in unrestricted funds that allow the foundation's board, composed of community representatives, to direct money to the greatest needs. As those funds grow, the foundation has more funds at its disposal each year.

As an endowment, only revenue generated from investments is awarded as grants. The principal remains, creating a permanent pool of money to serve the public need.

The foundation has close ties to Lilly Endowment and has participated in several endowment programs, including the Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow Initiative. The foundation also helps to administer Lilly Endowment scholarships awarded each year.

The four-year scholarships will continue to be awarded to local high-school graduates.

Members of the foundation board have already started meeting with community leaders to share their plans on how to focus its grant-making toward one community issue but public input remains crucial.

The foundation board hopes to narrow its list of community issues by spring and the public is asked to submit suggestions on major community issues the foundation could address in coming weeks.

Embrey can be reached at 547-3176 or by e-mail at commfound@psci.net. Written comments can also be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 13, Tell City, IN 47586.

The community foundation is a member of the Community Foundation Alliance. Information on the county foundation and the alliance is available online at www.alliance9.org.