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By JoAnna Ness, Jul 7 2020 07:38PM

This year, two members of Forever Improving Steuben County Together, the youth philanthropy branch of Steuben County Community Foundation, are graduating from high school. Sydney, one of the graduating seniors, shared that FIST wasn’t “just a bunch of teenagers helping out in the community”, but it shows “how the youth could come together for the greater good of our community and future generations.” Isabell Deem and Sydney Kokinis share a passion for philanthropy and their community. Recently, each of them took time to reflect on their experiences with FIST.

This year's FIST President, Isabell Deem, is a graduating senior from Angola High School and the 2020 Steuben County Recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. During her time in FIST, she learned how to work together to inspire positive change. She shared that her favorite thing about Steuben County is “how willing the community members are to come together.” Isabell shared that FIST has helped her to feel like a “go-getter” and has bolstered her confidence. Every single meeting, event, or volunteer experience was Isabell’s favorite, “I really can’t pick just one.” She encouraged current members to embrace the experience and get more involved. Isabell will attend Indiana University – Bloomington in the fall to major in Chemistry as a Pre-Med student.

Sydney Kokinis is a graduating senior from Fremont High School. She will also be attending Indiana University – Bloomington to major in Business/ Marketing with a minor in Korean. Sydney shared she learned from her time in FIST that, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Sydney’s favorite memory from her time with FIST was competing with other volunteers and members to collect the most canned goods during FIST’s annual Trick-Or-Treat for Canned Goods which supports local food banks. Sydney encouraged other young people to speak up and let their voice be heard. Sydney, like Isabell and other FIST members, shared her love for the solidarity that can be felt in the Steuben County community. She said “schools still have rivals, but whenever it came to something big in the community, differences were set aside.”

By JoAnna Ness, Jul 7 2020 05:29PM

Although most people celebrate New Year's in the winter, SCCF enjoyed the sunny skies that accompanied the end of our fiscal year on June 30, 2020. This past year, SCCF granted $1.14 million to the community from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Some donors have specific organizations or causes they love to support, and approximately 75% of our grants are awarded with a donor’s defined intent in mind. However, some donors have a general love for the community and want the flexibility of supporting a variety of organizations as the needs in Steuben County change over time. They choose to support SCCF’s unrestricted grantmaking, meaning 25% of our grants are made by possible by donors who trust us to assess the current needs in our community and find ways to make a difference. SCCF uses a committee of local volunteers to represent perspectives from throughout Steuben County, reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the SCCF board of directors for this unrestricted grantmaking. This unrestricted grantmaking fund is known as the Spirit of Community Fund.

In the past year, SCCF granted $173,989 from the Spirit of Community Fund to 31 organizations to meet a variety of needs in the community. These include:

Angola Balloons Aloft

Angola Kids League

Boomerang Backpacks


Cameron Hospital

Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana

City of Angola

Community Anti Violence Alliance

Community Harvest Food Bank of NE IN, Inc.

Compassion Pregnancy Center

Downtown Angola Coalition

Erin’s House for Grieving Children, Inc.

Forever Improving Steuben County Together

Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce

Fremont Elementary School

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry

Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana

Lake of Lakes Family Health Services (Well Child Clinic)

LaGrange First Church of God/Lighthouse Montessori Education Center

Little Lambs Daycare

McMillen Health

Pleasant Lake Lions Club

RISE, Inc.

Science Central

Shape Up Steuben

Steuben County Council on Aging

Steuben County Literacy Coalition

Steuben County United Way

Trine University

Wee Creations Preschool

Women’s Care Center of NEI

As of the end of June, the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund has awarded $84,190 to 10 nonprofits in Steuben County who have been affected by COVID-19. These grants were awarded through a funding partnership with the Steuben County United Way. A more detailed update on the Disaster Response Fund will be provided in August 2020.

In total, 240 organizations received a grant from one or more of the 222 funds at SCCF in 2020, all of which is made possible by generous donors.

Nonprofits may apply online for a variety of grant opportunities at SCCF’s website: The deadline for the health and human services cycle is July 31, education grants are due January 31, and requests for the arts, culture, environment, recreation, and other cycle are due April 30. Nonprofits may submit a letter of inquiry for the Impact Grant Cycle until August 15.

Contact SCCF with questions about ways to support local nonprofits in need or to apply for grant funds, at 260-665-6656 or

By JoAnna Ness, Jun 1 2020 04:21PM

This note was included in our May e-newsletter, which can be found here:

I hope this newsletter finds you well as we all adjust to a new world. When the scope of this global pandemic became apparent in mid-March, the Steuben County Community Foundation board of directors made some quick and important decisions. Emergency bylaws were drafted and approved allowing the board to efficiently conduct business. The SCCF staff was uprooted nearly overnight and now are working from multiple corners of the community. We have transitioned all of our work to a (temporarily) remote operation and will continue as long as necessary. This means that scholarships are being processed, grants are being paid, and we're hard at work to connect generous donors with important community needs. We look forward to seeing donors and guests at the SCCF office once we reopen in Stage 4 of Governor Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan, currently scheduled for June 15.

In March, we shared that the SCCF board activated the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund to support Steuben County nonprofits navigating and responding to the impacts of COVID-19 in our community. Since then, SCCF has provided a grant of $50,000 from this fund to support Cameron Memorial Community Hospital. FIST members directed 15 small grants to local nonprofits for operating relief. Generous donor advised fund holders awarded proactive grants to a few of the nonprofits who were among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Since the fund was established in March, community members have contributed more than $87,000 to this fund, and a grant from Indiana United Ways and Lilly Endowment Inc. provides a total of more than $325,000 in the Disaster Response Fund. SCCF is partnering with the Steuben County United Way to deploy grants efficiently and effectively. There is more work to be done, but we have a good baseline started thanks to our generous donors, volunteers, and board members.

Our hearts go out to all who have suffered as a result of the pandemic. We thank you for your understanding of the current situation, and your continued belief in the power of giving where you’re living. Please feel free to call or email me with any questions you may have.

Jennifer Danic

SCCF President and CEO


By JoAnna Ness, Mar 19 2020 06:14PM

The Steuben County Community Foundation Board of Directors has designated $100,000 to activate the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund to begin addressing the rapidly developing situation in our community as a result of COVID-19. This nonpermanent fund will be used to mobilize grant dollars for community organizations affected by the virus, and SCCF is actively listening to local entities to understand current needs.

The Board approved an initial grant from this fund for $50,000 to Cameron Memorial Community Hospital as Cameron has taken the lead in addressing the immediate health challenges in Steuben County posed by this crisis. The board is regularly reassessing the changing community needs, and future grants will be deployed from this fund.

Community donors are encouraged to assist in this effort to support local nonprofits by donating to the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund. SCCF is open to collaborating with other funders and learning more about ways to make resources available to community needs. Contact the SCCF office at 260-665-6656, or email SCCF President and CEO Jennifer Danic at with questions.

Donations to the Steuben County Disaster Response Fund can be made online here, or you can mail a check to our office at 1701 N Wayne St, Angola, IN 46703.

By JoAnna Ness, Feb 24 2020 04:44PM

Cameron Memorial Community Hospital has been a staple nonprofit organization in Steuben County for almost 100 years. The Cameron Foundation was established to support the mission of the hospital and to provide resources that improve the community overall. The foundation’s mission is to, “Improve the quality of life for those we serve through relationships focused on health and wellness.” The Cameron Foundation makes an impact by focusing on areas that directly affect health and wellness needs in Steuben County. Some of these needs include state-of-the-art training and resources, expansion of hospital programs, services and community education, and continued advances in meeting the medical needs of the community. Krista Miller, Executive Director at the Cameron Foundation, attributes the ability to provide resources to the community to their excellent leadership and staff.