The Community Foundation of Boone County: Building a Stronger County in 2020

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February 2020

Last year, the Community Foundation of Boone County (CFBC) facilitated an aggressive initiative and thorough needs assessment of Boone County to better understand the needs and opportunities Boone County residents would like addressed and then generate innovative ideas on how CFBC can take a leadership role in addressing those needs and opportunities. We sat down with Julie Reagan, CFBC development and communications director, to learn more about what the next steps are and what’s on the agenda for CFBC in 2020.

What Is the Community Foundation of Boone County?

CFBC promotes partnerships and collaborations to create vibrant communities and make the greatest impact. Since 1991, it has granted over $25 million from its various funds to Boone County nonprofit organizations and programs working to solve critical challenges in Boone County. It connects people [residents of Boone County] with nonprofit organizations and programs for the betterment of our county.

The Community Foundation of Boone County

CFBC currently manages more than $22 million in assets. In the past 27 years, the foundation has worked with donors to create permanent funds for charitable giving. The establishment and growth of permanent endowment funds will strengthen Boone County for generations to come.

The Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow Grant

In 2019, CFBC applied for and received a leadership planning grant through Lilly Endowment, Inc.’s initiative Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII).

This grant will support many aspects of community development, including a thorough needs assessment of Boone County. In 2019, CFBC partnered with Transform Consulting Group (TCG) to facilitate the community needs assessment and solicit feedback from the county. This assessment was conducted in various ways, including the CFBC team, TCG staff and community partners attending community events and meetings, hosting community meetings, scheduling one-on-one sessions with Boone County citizens and leaders and surveying Boone County residents from all areas of the county.

The Community Foundation of Boone County

“We [CFBC] worked with our consultant group to really make sure that we were surveying as many individuals that we could that represented the populations from the six communities in Boone County: Advance, Thorntown, Jamestown, Lebanon, Whitestown and Zionsville,” Reagan explained. “We surveyed community leaders, safety officers, teachers, health care professionals, etc. We also wanted to make sure that we reached people who live in the county who are in the ‘need’ pocket who are going to nonprofits for help, so went to several Boone County nonprofits to survey their clients as well to make sure that we were getting the full circle of input.”

Reagan emphasized that CFBC worked diligently to ensure that for each community that was surveyed, “X” number of survey respondents were obtained based on that community’s population in order to create a “true depiction.”

“That was really important for us, and we worked hard on achieving that as well,” Reagan said. “We gathered the data and released the final report at the end of 2019. We’ve been working with a planning committee that is made up of Boone County residents who are not directly tied to one nonprofit or one specific area of need to create neutrality. Their sole charge has been to brainstorm with us and come up with ideas that address the needs identified in the assessment findings. The CFBC staff presented these ideas to our board of directors.”

The Next Phase of GIFT VII and the Big 4 Trail Master Plan

CFBC has now reached the next phase of GIFT VII, where it has the opportunity to take what it’s learned through the assessment and apply for two grants through Lilly Endowment, Inc.’s initiative GIFT VII implementation phase: one for $150,000 and a larger-scale “Big Idea” grant for up to $5 million. The deadlines for community foundations across Indiana to apply for Lilly Endowment’s GIFT VII implementation grants and large-scale grants is March 13, 2020.

In the assessment, CFBC found that there are several areas residents are extremely happy with, including education, public safety, family-friendliness and volunteer opportunities. The areas of opportunity include recreational and wellness options, social offerings, opportunities for people under age 21, public transportation and arts and cultural options. After many meetings and planning sessions with CFBC’s planning committee, the idea of mobility kept rising to the top, and the concept of finishing the Big 4 Trail was discussed. After further research and additional meetings, this idea continued to solidify as it impacts all identified areas of need, and it is now official: CFBC will apply for grant funding to help complete the Big 4 Trail project.

The Community Foundation of Boone County

The Big 4 Trail Master Plan is a collaborative effort between several community players, including the towns of Boone County, the Friends of Boone County Trails Board, Boone County and the Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are ecstatic for the opportunity to join such a strong, existing, collaborative project with these local partners,” said Jodi Gietl, president and CEO for the Community Foundation of Boone County. “Part of our mission at The Community Foundation is to take a leadership role in bringing people together because when collaboration happens, needs throughout the county are addressed at a much higher impact level.”

Along with the grant proposals, the GIFT VII initiative also includes a matching opportunity for unrestricted gifts of any size. Unrestricted gifts allow CFBC to address problems and opportunities as they arise. These types of gifts are vital investments in our community. Unrestricted gifts are currently matched $2 to every $1 donated through the GIFT VII match, which means more funds available for grantmaking to nonprofits throughout the county. Make your donation toward the GIFT VII match at or contact CFBC today!

For more information about the Community Foundation of Boone County, visit its website,