Lake County’s leading philanthropic partner supports organizations that enhance residents’ quality of life

(MERRILLVILLE, Indiana) – Legacy Foundation, Lake County’s leading philanthropic partner, announces grants totaling $370,141.81 to fund Lake County nonprofit organizations that enhance the quality of life for people throughout the region.

“We are humbled and honored to work with these agencies and organizations that choose on a daily basis to meet the needs of the citizens of Lake County”, said Legacy Foundation President and CEO, Harry J. Vande Velde. “Legacy Foundation’s Board of Directors, Grants Committee and staff endeavor to maximize the assets available in different funds in order to support a transformative impact within our community. We congratulate this class of award winners and we look forward to learning how these philanthropic investments have created substantive return for all concerned,” Vande Velde said.

Legacy Foundation accepted applications for four major granting categories: Transform Lake County, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund for Informed and Engaged Urban Communities, Maria Reiner Senior Citizens Fund, and Nonprofit Capacity Building and Training to support programs for education, health, human services, environment, and arts and culture.

Grants make positive impact in the community

Thirty organizations in total were awarded grants. Their missions range from “providing for and responding to the needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals living in Northwest Indiana through services, education and advocacy” to “building a strong sense of community for the residents of Northwest Indiana by being the leading force in connecting people, ideas and information through multiple, ongoing media and outreach activities.”

Although important, grant making is not the only way the Foundation strives to assist nonprofits in reaching their full potential. Through The Think Tank at Legacy Foundation, nonprofits can meet with Legacy Foundation staff members to analyze their organizational needs while attempting to become mission driven, constituent sensitive and fiscally responsible.

“Power Paws attended Legacy Foundation’s Proposal Prep Workshop and I was impressed by the personal and individual attention we received as we asked questions,” said Lina Roland, founder and executive director of Power Paws for Kids. “Within two weeks, we had a one-on-one meeting about our grantmaking where Legacy staff shared knowledge and even loaned us a book so we could share information with our board. When we were ready to complete our application, they walked us through it step by step. We thank the Legacy Foundation for all their help,” said Roland.

Power Paws for Kids provides trained dogs and their handlers to help children overcome emotional and educational challenges such as shortness of temper and anxiety when reading in front of others. Students, parents and teachers report improved behavior and learning.

Grants awarded

Legacy Foundation awarded grants to the following Lake County nonprofit organizations:

From the Lake County Community Fund (Transform Lake County)

Transform Lake County grants are targeted toward local organizations that provide services to improve our residents’ quality of life.

  • Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights to assist nonprofits with their legal questions
  • Chorus Angelorum to support the 27th annual concert
  • Deaf Services to introduce hearing elementary students to the experience of deaf students
  • Indiana Women In Need to provide support services that help breast cancer patients follow their treatment plan
  • Indiana Writers Consortium to enhance poetry appreciation and strengthen skills in creativity, reading and writing for elementary school students
  • Kids Against Hunger to provide 125,000 meals to the Northwest Indiana Food Bank
  • Lake Court House Foundation to provide restoration and repair funding for the Lake Court House
  • National Center for Earth and Space Science Education to support student submissions to fly on the International Space Station and be presented at the Smithsonian
  • Northwest Indiana Public Broadcasting to produce and broadcast education interstitials
  • Power Paws for Kids to assist children with reading and behavior challenges through positive interaction with registered therapy dogs.
  • Purdue University Calumet for research and production of geomaps and info-graphics focusing on the current nature of the nonprofit sector in NWI
    Reach Out and Read to partner with doctor offices to provide parents with information and a book that helps children build basic language skills
  • South Shore Arts to support arts education programs for approximately 30,000 children in Lake County
  • St. Jude House to improve communications with clients and supporters

From the Maria Reiner Senior Citizen Fund

Maria Reiner Senior Citizens Fund grants to organizations supporting the vibrant senior community in Hobart.

  • Catholic Charities to construct wheelchair ramps and perform home safety repairs to ensure seniors can safely enter and exit their homes
  • Maria Reiner Senior Center to support programs for seniors
  • Indiana University Northwest to design sustainable programs benefitting Hobart seniors

From the John S. and James L. Knight Fund  for Informed and Engaged Urban Communities

  • Indiana University Northwest  to conduct research and to convene an education focused community of practice resulting in a collective services proposal for community based education services
  • Tradewinds Services, Inc. for a group reading and discussion room where clients can discuss local news and current events  
  • Urban League of Northwest Indiana to ensure AP programs and testing are available to Gary students

Nonprofit Capacity Building and Training

Capacity building grants provide up to $2,000 for organizations seeking to improve their operations, programming, and fundraising.

  • Campagna Academy
  • CRWorks
  • Dunes Environmental Learning Center
  • Gary Historical and Cultural Society
  • Hawkins Vision Consultants
  • Methodist Hospital Foundation
  • Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids
  • Planting Possibilities
  • Purdue University Calumet
  • Southlake Tri City Management

To learn more about the Legacy Foundation grants program, visit www.legacyfdn.org or email legacy@legacyfdn.org. Grant applications are posted on the Legacy Foundation website. The next deadline for grant applications for Transform Lake County and the Maria Reiner Senior Citizens Fund is March 1, 2013. Applications for Informed and Engaged Urban Communities and Nonprofit Capacity Building and Training are accepted on a rolling basis.



Trish Alt, left, of the Legacy Foundation accepts a check from Hanover Dollars for Scholars Vice President Dick Kutckek.

Scholarship fund transfered to Legacy Foundation : Cedar Lake News.

Last week we waited as news outlets kept us up to minute on whether we would go over the proverbial fiscal cliff. Now that part of the deal is done, have you been asking yourself “how does this directly affect me and my community?”  Legacy Foundation, your community foundation, understands that sometimes national news doesn’t feel like it has an impact at home. Here are some ways the fiscal deal impacts nonprofit services at home.

–          Hunger in Lake County: Did you know that in our county more than 88,000 people are food insecure? The Lake County community constantly reports to Legacy Foundation that access to food is a main concern for our families, especially children. The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana currently has resources to provide approximately 5 million pounds of food per year, yet the local need is 25 million pounds and 52.4% of the Food Bank’s clients receive SNAP benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps).

  • Child Hunger: In Lake County, child hunger ranges between 25% and 33% and in 2011 over 47,000 students received free and reduced lunch.
  • Senior Hunger: As the number of older adults increases, the demand for social services, especially the need for adequate nutrition services is likely to increase. Of the seniors served by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana 43% lack access to food at times.
  • The fiscal cliff deal addressed the following food issues:
    • Access: The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) remains unchanged; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits were not cut, but $110 million was cut from SNAP Nutrition Education; possible cuts to programs that provide nutrition assistance have been delayed for two months. With federal spending cuts impending, the government support that allows families to continue receiving services is still at risk.
    • Donations: The food donation tax deduction was reinstated and renewed for 2012 and 2013. This incentive makes it a great time to make a donation to your local food bank, pantry, or soup kitchen.

–          Community Services and Programs: Over the last three years nonprofits have seen a severe increase in need for services with some agencies reporting the number of clients has increased by thirty and fifty percent. This need has placed a strain on their already scarce resources.

  • Unemployment in Lake County: As unemployment rises, nonprofits see more requests for basic needs, for health care, for mental health care and other services. In November 2012, the unemployment rate in Lake County was 9.4%.
  • The fiscal cliff deal addressed the following unemployment issue: Benefits for the long-term unemployed have been extended through the end of 2013. Without unemployment benefits, many nonprofits would simply have to cut back on services because the numbers of individuals and families in need would greatly exceed their available resources.
  • Donations: Giving back to our nonprofits remains as important as ever as thousands of our Lake County neighbors are unemployed, triggering an increased need for services including shelter, food, and clothing.

–          The fiscal cliff deal addressed the following issues for charitable donations:

  • Charitable Deductions: There is no cap, but there is a federal estate tax; therefore whether you want to make a charitable gift today or plan a gift for tomorrow, now is a great time to give or to create your charitable giving plan. Legacy Foundation has staff and advisors that understand the current tax regulations and charitable planning and can discuss planning options with you.
  • The Pease Limitation: For incomes above $250,000 single/$300,000 married when taking itemized deductions (The Pease limitation reduces itemized deductions by 3% of the amount by which adjusted gross income exceeds a specified threshold, up to a maximum reduction of 80% of itemized deductions. Could have an impact on very large strategic gifts).
  • IRA charitable rollover: If you are an individual 70 ½ or older, you can distribute up to $100,000 directly from your traditional IRA to a charitable organization, without having to recognize the amount as income.

The IRA charitable rollover, as well as enhanced deductions for the donation of food and land for conservation purposes have been reinstated and extended through the end of 2013. This makes now a better time than ever to make a contribution to a cause you value.


Philanthropists honored in NWI.

The Legacy Foundation website now features a free tool to help Lake County, Ind. scholars, parents and guidance counselors compare the costs of attendance across Indiana colleges.

“Completing the cost estimator information will provide valuable information in the financial fact finding stage of the college selection process,” said Sandy Nicholls, Legacy Foundation scholarship administrator.

After completing the form, students and their parents receive a report from The National Center for College Costs which provides a personal financial analysis.

“Students have the opportunity to look at the demographic information about Indiana colleges and ascertain what types of degrees are offered.  They can view the graduation rates, discover the admission requirements, and get an idea of the costs associated with selected schools,” said Nicholls.

Other services the tool provides: links to college profiles, guides for the FAFSA process, free scholarship searches, insights on investing, and a virtual tour which allows students to see where schools are located and get a view of the size and layout of the campus.

Once users of the Indiana College Cost Estimator have registered, they will have the option to store and retrieve the data at any time by creating a username and password.  This will allow them to update information as needed or run more side-by-side comparisons.

In addition, those families that have received the report are cordially invited by Legacy Foundation to attend a workshop on December 8, 2012.  Dave Murray, president of The National Center for College Costs, will be present to answer questions and provide additional information.

The Indiana College Costs Estimator is the result of collaboration between the National Center for College Costs, Learn More Indiana and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. This tool is not designed for graduate students or those returning for a second credential.

Foundation receives grant to advance literacy through parental engagement

HAMMOND | Hammond Education Foundation has received a $15,000 grant from the Legacy Foundation to fund a new child literacy program triggered by parental engagement.

The program, titled “Come and Read with Me,” expands on an initiative successfully introduced at Hammond’s Kenwood Elementary School during the 2011-12 school year. That program was funded by a Seedling Grant provided by the Hammond Education Foundation.

The “Come and Read with Me” program is being implemented at Edison, Franklin, Harding, Hess, Jefferson, Kenwood and Morton elementary schools. It will consist of a teacher training session and three workshops on reading strategies for parents of kindergarten and first-grade students.

While parents attend those workshops, their son/daughter will listen to a storyteller or guest reader, or participate in other literacy activities. The students then will reunite with their parent to choose a book to take home and read together.

“When children are learning how to read, many parents do not know how to help their children,” Hammond Education Foundation Executive Director Gail Rodovich said. “What’s more, many homes do not have age-appropriate books for young students to read. Parents who are able to help their children early in their school years go a long way in advancing student success.”

The Legacy grant will be used to cover all program expenses, including materials, facilitators, books and refreshments. All workshops will be completed by March.

The Hammond Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization of business, civic and educational leaders that has been in existence since 1983 and is committed to its mission of “Supporting Extraordinary Learning Experiences to Help Students Succeed.” HEF has distributed more than $1 million in classroom grants and scholarships within the School City of Hammond.

More information about the HEF may be found at www.hammondeducationfoundation.org.

Dana Rifai

Shar Miller

Debra Howe

J. Brian Hittinger








Legacy Foundation, Lake County’s leading philanthropic partner, is proud to welcome four new community and business leaders to its Board of Directors. The new board members are superintendent of Tri-Creek School Corporation, Debra Howe; attorney at Krieg DeVault, J. Brian Hittinger; Shar Miller, chief executive officer of Prompt Ambulance Service; and Dana Rifai, attorney at Burke, Costanza & Carberry, LLP.

“As an organization that represents all of Lake County we seek the opportunity to involve individuals who are dedicated to moving the region forward through our strategic philanthropic endeavors. This class brings a wide and superb spectrum of talent to our Board table including two gift planning attorneys, a successful entrepreneur, and a cutting edge school superintendent,” said president and CEO of Legacy Foundation, Harry J. VandeVelde.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors also elected new officers, including owner of Financial Strategies LLC., Nancy Clifford, board chair; president and CEO of Cimcor, Robert Johnson III, vice-chair; chancellor emeritus and professor of philosophy at Purdue University Calumet, Howard Cohen, board secretary; Sandra Snearly-Vosberg, CPA, board treasurer and finance committee chair; attorney Danette Garza, investment committee chair; vice president branch manager at First Midwest Bank, Martha Rivas-Ramos, grant committee chair; and executive director of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Dave Ryan, development committee chair.

Remaining 2012-13 board members include CEO of the Lake County Parks Department, Robert Nickovich, past board chair; Dave Austgen, senior partner at Austgen, Kuiper & Assoc., Margot Clark, community representative; Amy Han, director of development at Indiana University Northwest; Matthew Glaros, Employer Benefit Systems; Carol Highsmith, senior partner at Centier Bank; Tom Keilman, director of government and public affairs at BP; Janet Moran, owner of Copywrite Communications LLC.; and Michael Suggs, director of operations integration at Northern Indiana Public Service Co.

“The Board of Directors of Legacy Foundation represents and serves as the eyes, ears and voice of the varied constituencies in Lake County. We feel that the class of 2012 embodies our goal of involving talented, caring, philanthropically minded individuals in the advancement of our mission as a community foundation,” said VandeVelde.

Legacy recognizes its recently retired members: Kenneth Krupinski, David Bochnowski, Cornelia Brown, Fredricka Davidson, Frankie Fesko, Richard Komyatte, William Nangle, and Tory Prasco.

See the article in the Northwest Indiana Times:

Community, business leaders join Legacy board.