Community Foundation: 30 Years of Impact

For three decades, the Community Foundation has worked to bring together people and resources to make a difference in Monroe County. At the heart of everything we do is a vision to create a vibrant, equitable, and inclusive community where every individual has the opportunity to thrive — now and in the future.

We believe that the greatest change happens when people come together in partnership, collaboration, and generosity. Whether it’s through stimulating community dialogue, grantmaking to address pressing needs, transformative solutions, or helping donors achieve their philanthropic goals, we are eager to work to make great things happen in Bloomington and Monroe County.

We are honored to share how your support over the last 30 years has made a difference in our community. Scroll below to see some incredible stories of impact. Thank you for helping to celebrate our 30th anniversary and working with us to build a better today and tomorrow for Bloomington and Monroe County. Here’s to the next 30 years of impact!

Education and Learning

The Community Foundation has supported 999 education & learning grants. Examples include:

  • Monroe Smart Start to expand high-quality pre-K & early education
  • Monroe County Community School Corporation FIRST Robotics program
  • South Central Community Action Program Growing Opportunities job training
  • WonderLab’s Science Sprouts Place
  • Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Graduation Coach Initiative
  • Monroe County Community School Corporation Preschool Parent Liaison
  • Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation Parent Engagement program

Recognizing that early childhood development efforts can significantly affect success in school, graduation rates, and workforce readiness, the Community Foundation has invested more than $1.6 million in early education. These grants and initiatives have made it possible for 250 more children each year to experience high-quality early education in Monroe County.

Individuals & Families

The Community Foundation has supported 1,143 grants supporting individuals & families. Examples include:

  • Hoosier Hills Food Bank freezer and refrigerated truck
  • Habitat for Humanity shipping container home
  • Monroe County Crisis Diversion Center
  • New Hope for Families Homeless Shelter
  • Monroe County United Ministries Self-Sufficiency Your Path Program
  • Wheeler Mission Ministries fire suppression system to serve more individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Beacon Inc. to support Crawford Homes and supportive services for those experiencing long-term homelessness due to a disability

In 2019, the Community Foundation helped fund construction costs for Habitat for Humanity’s recycled shipping container pilot project. With lower construction costs than typical homes, we’re proud to support this pilot project to explore homeownership for lower-income households in Monroe County.

Health & Recration

The Community Foundation has supported 500 health and recreation grants. Examples include:

  • Ellettsville Main Street for parking at Heritage Trail to provide safe access to recreation for people of all abilities
  • Catholic Charities to expand mental health and counseling services for children, families, and individuals experiencing trauma
  • Be Loved Transportation for a lift van to provide wheelchair-assisted transportation to medical appointments
  • Volunteers in Medicine to merge with Healthnet to serve more uninsured and low-income insured individuals

The Community Foundation has made a multi-year commitment to sponsor the Switchyard Park Spray Plaza. We’re proud to support this opportunity for more children and families to have free access to outdoor recreation activities in Monroe County.

Arts & Culture

The Community Foundation has supported 544 grants benefitting the arts. Examples include:

  • Indiana Limestone Symposium Lecture Series
  • Bloomington Academy of Film and Theatre to launch its programs
  • Bloomington Playwrights Project Summer Youth Programs
  • Lotus Education and Arts Foundation technology enhancements & renovations to the Firebay at its new headquarters
  • Women Writing for (a) Change creative writing collaboration with local nonprofits
  • Buskirk Chumley Theater stage extension project
  • Bloomington Creative Glass Center Youth Summer Camp

In 2018, the Foundation awarded a grant to help launch the new Bloomington Academy of Film and Theatre (BAFT), Indiana’s first comprehensive film and theater training institute. This unique collaboration of Bloomington Playwrights Project, Pigasus Pictures, and Cardinal Stage is providing immersive learning in acting, voice, dance, musical theatre, film, and other performing arts.

Community & Economic Development

The Community Foundation has supported 200 grants for economic and community development. Examples include:

  • Ellettsville Main Street to engage the community in a visioning process to create a long-term development plan for the town of Ellettsville
  • Startup costs for CDFI Friendly Bloomington, a new nonprofit working to increase flexible and affordable financing to businesses, housing developers, nonprofits, and others in Bloomington and the surrounding area

In 2019, CDFI Friendly Bloomington, a new organization incubated by the Community Foundation, helped facilitate funding from Chicago-based Cinnaire, a community development finance institution, for Kinser Flats, an apartment complex with on-site services for individuals in recovery for substance abuse and those coping with mental health disorders.

Youth Development

The Community Foundation has supported 423 youth development grants. Examples include:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs Career Exploration Program
  • Richland Bean Blossom Community Schools Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI) training
  • Banneker Community Center for a 15-passenger vehicle to expand participation in summer and school break programs
  • Middle Way House to expand violence prevention programming into elementary schools to reduce the likelihood of future sexual and dating violence

For 40 years, Girls Inc. of Monroe County has empowered girls to grow into strong, smart, and bold women, but lack of transportation prevented some children from attending after-school and summer programs. With the help of the Community Foundation, Girls Inc. purchased two buses in 2015 and expanded enrollment to include more girls.

Animal Welfare

The Community Foundation has provided 94 grants to support animal welfare and animal programs. Examples include:

  • People & Animal Learning Services fencing & expansion of equine therapeutic programs
  • Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates courthouse therapy dog
  • Monroe County Humane Association (MCHA) to support adoption, spay/neuter fees, or veterinary services. 
  • Monroe County Humane Association (MCHA) for grooming equipment and supplies

Meet Deacon. Thanks to a Community Foundation grant to expand grooming services, MCHA removed 15 lbs of painfully matted fur from this adorable pup to give him a brighter future. MCHA’s full-service, low-cost grooming helps ensure people of all income levels are able to ensure the health and well-being of their pets

The Environment

The Community Foundation has supported 140 grants to sustain our environment. Examples include:

  • Sycamore Land Trust to expand the Beanblossom Creek Bicentennial Conservation Area & parking lot construction at the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve
  • Ohio River Foundation Youth Conservation Teams to support internships for high school students to restore habitats in Hoosier National Forest

In 2015, Sycamore Land Trust collaborated with the Community Foundation to create a new endowment fund for its environmental education programs. The Monarch Environmental Education Endowment is one of three designated funds supporting the organization and ensuring that Sycamore’s programs can continue forever.


The Community Foundation has supported 367 scholarships, including:

  • The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, the Stinesville High School Alumni Scholarship, the Monroe County Ag Day Scholarship, the Carl Deal, Jr. Memorial Scholarship, the Tom Moeller Memorial Scholarship, the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club Betty Burnett Welke Scholarship, and others 
  • The Foundation has also provided grants from the Ellettsville Dollars for Scholars fund to support scholarships for Edgewood High School seniors

While the most-known scholarship administered in partnership with the Community Foundation is the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, we are proud to award scholarships to more than 20 individuals each year to pursue continuing education, develop their unique potential, and enhance their ability to contribute to community and society as citizens.

The Community Foundation also distributes grants from over 80 designated and 50 donor-advised funds every year. Nonprofits may use grants from these funds to support their charitable operations in any way they feel appropriate.This year, the Community Foundation will distribute more than $400,000 in agency, designated, and donor-advised funds!

Because you gave, the Community Foundation has supported nonprofits doing incredible things in Monroe County. Click to watch this video to see more ways your support has made their work possible.

Leadership Initiatives

While designated and competitive granting often serves to address areas of urgency or need, the Community Foundation Board may also elect to provide proactive funding to address compelling opportunities of particular significance to our community. These initiatives often offer transformative solutions and generally begin with investment and leadership from the Community Foundation. 

  • Through Monroe Smart Start, the Community Foundation seeks to ensure that every child is prepared for success in school and in life.
  • Regional Opportunity Initiatives was established with support from the Lilly Endowment to advance economic and community prosperity across an 11-county region, including Monroe County, now called the Indiana Uplands.  
  • As a member of the STRIDE Coalition, the Foundation made a multi-year commitment to bring a crisis diversion center to our community, addressing a gap in the local continuum of care.
  • CDFI Friendly Bloomington is an innovative approach to bringing financial resources to our community to address needs that include affordable housing, small business growth, and community facilities.
  • In 2021, the Foundation will introduce an impact investing model that will allow for more creativity in supporting local needs and priorities. 

We’re thankful to our partners for helping to launch and sustain these leadership initiatives. 

2020 COVID Initiatives

While no one could have predicted the unprecedented changes and challenges that COVID brought this year, we are grateful for our community partners and collaborations that enabled us to rapidly assess need. In response, Community Foundation deployed more than $550,000 this year to support emergency COVID-19 relief and nonprofit sustainability in Monroe County.

Rapid Response Grants: $118,822 in new grants to 48 nonprofits for immediate supplies, equipment, remote-work technology, and staffing

Child Care & Virtual Learning: $153,060 from the Learning Equity and Resource Needs for Children and Families (LEARN) Fund for resources children may need to learneffectively while in-person schooling is limited or not possible

Mental Health: $149,874 to enhance or expand the capacity of health programs and services to provide mental, emotional, and behavioral health supports in Monroe County

Repurposed Grants: $68,132 in unused grant funds repurposed to support emerging COVID-19 needs

Donor Advised Fund Distributions: $49,930 in grant distributions from DAFs to support nonprofitsduring this challenging time

Support for Basic Needs: $25,000 to the United Way COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for shelter, food, & medical care

PPE for Child Care Workers: $1,662.57 for masks, thermometers, & hand sanitizer for child carefacilities serving essential workers

These grants would not have been possible without the generations of donors, including those who responded as needs emerged this year, that have trusted us for 30 years to address pressing needs and compelling opportunities in Monroe County. Thank you for your support.

30 Years of Giving

The Community Foundation is here for you—and because of you. In our first 30 years, generous individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County have generously donated $44 million to make a difference today and a lasting impact in our community forever!

The Community Foundation is grateful for every one of the 5,573 donors that have generously donated gifts big and small to make a difference in Bloomington and Monroe County. We’re proud to recognize every donor who has made our first 30 years a success. Thank You for helping us make a lasting difference in our community. View the complete list of the individuals, companies, and organizations that made a donation to the Community Foundation between 1990 and December 31, 2020.

Thank you, Mayer and Carol Maloney, for giving back to the community where you met, and your dreams were inspired.
Thank you, Sara Laughlin, for sharing why you give to make a difference now and forever.
Thank you, Ron and Carol Remak, for supporting a better future for our community!
Thank you, Winston Shindell, for entrusting us to address our community’s most pressing needs and compelling opportunities.
Paying it forward comes naturally to Kevin and Beth Theile, and we’re grateful for all they do for Bloomington and Monroe County.
The Community Foundation is proud to count Charlotte as one of our earliest advocates, and we are grateful for her leadership, friendship, and generosity.

The Power of Endowment

The majority of funds at the Community Foundation are endowed. Through the power of endowment, grants can be made now to address causes you care about most while your gifts grow over time to do good for many years to come.

We’re grateful for our 75 Legacy Society members! Membership in The Legacy Society is open to anyone who names the Foundation in their estate planning documents, often done through a will bequest or a trust distribution. You can also name the Community Foundation as a beneficiary of your IRA, retirement account, or life insurance policy. We sincerely thank all those who leave a legacy to benefit Bloomington and Monroe County in perpetuity.

Thank You for helping us make a lasting difference in Bloomington & Monroe County! Watch this video to take a virtual walk down memory lane with us and see pictures that capture the history of the Community Foundation’s first 30 years.

Create your dream for Monroe County! Whether it’s an endowment to address the community’s most pressing needs or supporting a cause you care about most, the Community Foundation can help you make a positive impact that endures forever in our community. To learn how, contact Development Director Meagan Niese at [email protected] or (812) 333-9016.