Leadership, Powered by Giving
Establishing the Kruzan Fund for Kids and Canines through the Community Foundation has enabled Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan to touch families’ lives in small but profound ways – and to enrich his own life in the process.
It was a random act of channel surfing that prompted Mark Kruzan to take action.
Bloomington’s mayor since 2004, Kruzan had long imagined starting an endowment with the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. What stopped him, he says, was feeling “paralyzed” by a combination of intimidation – he didn’t think he could afford it – and an indecision about what type of initiative to support. One evening, though, he happened upon a program on the local Community Access Television Service that convinced him to get started.
The show featured local donors who had created funds with the foundation. John Hurlow, a local financial advisor, was speaking when Kruzan landed on the channel.
“John was saying that each year he and his children would sit down together to decide how to use the funds from their endowment,” Kruzan recalls. “I thought, ‘If this is something kids can be doing with their father, then surely I ought to be able to do it.’”
He hadn’t realized until then that it did not require a lot of money to start an endowment, and that funds could be put to slightly different purposes each year. “When I realized how flexible the Foundation was,” he says, “I went right in to talk to them.”
Kruzan told the Community Foundation about a child he’d met through the Girls, Inc. program, who he later learned was unable to afford summer camp. He had funded her camp enrollment, anonymously, and realized in doing so that just a couple hundred dollars were giving her an unforgettable experience.
He also talked about his admiration for the Monroe County Humane Association, from which he has adopted two dogs. “I just think of what a difference having dogs in my life has made,” he says. “I’ve become more joyful, more reflective. And, as a politician, I appreciate having at least somebody who has unconditional love for me.”
Kruzan couldn’t decide between creating a fund for children or for pets – so the foundation helped him create a hybrid, the Kruzan Fund for Kids and Canines. This highly flexible fund can be used to support kids’ education and enrichment, such as tuition, school supplies, or fees for extracurricular activities; or to help bring companion animals into people’s lives by covering costs like adoption, spay/neuter fees, or veterinary services.
“The fund’s payout is a relatively small amount of money, but these things can make a big difference,” says Kruzan. “And sometimes, when we’re focused on raising giant capital funds, we can overlook the small things that might be life changing for a family. Sometimes you can’t see the trees for the forest.”
The Kruzan Fund for Kids and Canines will soon generate its first distribution, and will continue to generate a distribution each year in perpetuity. Kruzan aims to add to the principal amount over time so that the fund can grow and reach more families.
“I’m so glad that kids and pets can benefit from this fund through the Community Foundation,” he says. “But, really, I have benefitted tremendously from being able to contribute. And that will be true of anyone who gives.”