Dekko Foundation closes office temporarily

We, like all of you, understand the challenges facing our nation and world and the need to take action to protect the health of all from the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we recognize the strain that response has placed on organizations that serve young people.

As mandated by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, our office is closed to the public through April 6. Our team is still working, but previously scheduled meetings will be conducted by phone to help safeguard our staff members’ and grantseekers’ health. If you need to reach us, please call 260-347-1278 or email dekko@dekkofoundation.org.

During these uncertain times, we are talking with other funders about how philanthropic organizations might better respond to the needs of our communities and support the work of organizations that serve young people. We will provide updates about those efforts on our website and Facebook page, and via email.

Thank you to everyone for doing what you can to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Take care and be safe.

Nonprofit Toolbelt update

We have reached our allocation of Nonprofit Toolbelts this fiscal year, which means we aren’t accepting new grant applications. If you think your organization would benefit from a Nonprofit Toolbelt, we encourage you to learn more about our Stronger Organizations proactive initiative.

Our Start Where You Are Bar is always available to help your organization assess its needs. If you want to talk to a Dekko Foundation staff person, feel free to call us at 260-347-1278. Or you can email dekko@dekkofoundation.org.

Dekko Foundation to move to Community Learning Center

The Dekko Foundation, a private family foundation started in 1981 in Kendallville, Indiana, by the late businessman and philanthropist Chester E. Dekko, will move its offices to the Community Learning Center this year.

The Dekko Foundation’s board of directors, comprising members of Mr. Dekko’s family, has endorsed the move because of its potential to advance the foundation’s mission of fostering economic freedom through education. The spirit of collaboration that lies at the heart of the Community Learning Center and the proximity to organizations that work directly with young people will allow the foundation to be more effective in carrying out Mr. Dekko’s vision.

“We are excited that residents of Kendallville and Noble County have come together to support the Community Learning Center as it endeavors to assist individuals of all ages through lifelong learning and skill development,” said Thomas Leedy, president of the Dekko Foundation. “Working alongside agencies at the CLC that are striving to remove barriers to economic freedom will make us a stronger foundation.”

The new office, which will be on the third floor of the Community Learning Center, will accommodate the foundation’s nine-person staff and have spaces that can be shared with other community organizations.

“At the Community Learning Center, we have the opportunity to learn from agencies working hard every day to support young people as they build the skills, knowledge, and character that are fundamental to them growing up to become self-sufficient adults and ultimately capable of achieving economic freedom,” Leedy said. “That knowledge will help inform our role as a funder and benefit our mission.”

The Dekko Foundation has been among the community members and organizations that for more than a year have been collaborating to make the Community Learning Center project a reality. Recent milestones have included the announcement of the first seven agencies that will offer programs and occupy space inside the facility, and the transfer of ownership of the property from the City of Kendallville to The Community Learning Center, Inc. Earlier this month, the Community Learning Center hosted an open house that provided a first look at the improvements that have been made to the facility and allowed individuals to connect with program providers.

The Dekko Foundation is providing financial support for the Community Learning Center’s ongoing renovations and operations. Leedy sits on the board of directors of The Community Learning Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization that was formed in 2019 to oversee the facility and surrounding grounds.

“Kendallville, Noble County, and Northeast Indiana have recognized the incredible opportunity the Community Learning Center has to be a catalyst for lifelong learning, building skills, expressing creativity, and improving well-being through its multigenerational offerings,” Leedy said. “It’s because of that enthusiasm for the CLC’s mission — Connecting Communities. Strengthening Lives. Securing Futures. — that our board has chosen to support this project, and it’s why they’re confident this move will help carry on Mr. Dekko’s legacy.”

That legacy extends back to 1925 when Chester E. Dekko was born in Ada, Minnesota. Growing up during the Great Depression helped instill in Mr. Dekko a strong work ethic, a deep appreciation for how education can improve one’s standing in life, and a bold entrepreneurial spirit. Mr. Dekko and his business partner, Lyall Morrill, devised an innovative wiring harness for refrigerators and started Lyall Electric in 1952. Under Mr. Dekko’s leadership, the business grew to have a significant presence in several manufacturing sectors and was renamed Group Dekko, with more than 2,500 employees in four states and Canada. Following Mr. Dekko’s passing in 1992, his entire estate was transferred to the foundation.

The Dekko Foundation supports communities where Mr. Dekko had business and personal interests. That includes six counties in Northeast Indiana, five counties in south-central Iowa, Norman County, Minnesota, and Limestone County, Alabama.

“Our commitment to these communities remains as strong as ever,” Leedy said. “The men and women who worked for Mr. Dekko helped make Group Dekko successful, and the foundation will continue to support young people in these communities so they can be successful in becoming self-sufficient and economically free. In addition, we hope that what we’ve learned by being involved in the Community Learning Center project can be a resource for these communities as they advance themselves.”

Moving to the Community Learning Center will mark the start of an exciting new chapter for the Dekko Foundation as it prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2021.

“It’s remarkable to reflect on the impact Mr. Dekko’s vision of economic freedom has had over nearly 40 years in the communities that meant so much to him,” Leedy said. “Moving the foundation to the Community Learning Center will help ensure that vision carries on for another 40 years — and beyond.”

Program boosts training in principle-based learning

A new program will help undergraduate students and veteran educators receive training and credentials in creating principle-based learning environments for young people. Our board has chosen to support this effort because if there are more high-quality, principle-based learning environments, then there will be more young people building skills, knowledge, and character that will help them grow up to be economically free.

 

From Trine University:

Building on the strength and growth of its Franks School of Education, Trine University will launch Indiana’s first Montessori teacher education degree program to help meet the growing need for teachers with Montessori credentials.

Trine’s Montessori teacher education program will be one of only a few undergraduate programs in the nation offered at the university level, and will provide training that leads toward state-recognized Montessori licensure for both undergraduate students and teachers already in the field.

“While Montessori schools continue to grow, there is a state and nationwide shortage of credentialed teachers,” said Anthony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education. “In addition, teachers who lack Montessori credentials must complete rigorous training during the summer. This can place a financial strain on schools and the educators receiving the training.”

“Trine University’s Montessori teacher education program will ensure a pipeline of high-quality teachers trained through a Montessori lens to focus on whole-child development. We strongly believe that Montessori training will enhance graduates who teach in traditional school settings as well.”

“We look forward to the impact this new program will have, not only on our university, but on future generations of children who will benefit from a Montessori education and educators trained in the Montessori Method,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president.

The Montessori Method of education was developed in Italy by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century and is designed to build on the way children inherently learn. Now practiced worldwide, Montessori education is known for individually paced learning and fostering independence, and encouraging empathy, social justice and joy in lifelong learning, according to the American Montessori Society.

The university has begun the search process for hiring a director for Montessori education at Trine, and will announce a timeline for program launch once that person is in place.

Undergraduate students at Trine will receive training to earn Indiana Department of Education licenses in Elementary Generalist (K-6) and Montessori within four years. Through Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) accreditation and American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliation, graduates also will earn credentials to teach students ages 6-9 in Montessori settings.

Current teachers will be able to earn Montessori credentials through summer training programs at Trine and at Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla. The program could include graduate-level credit that would lead to a Master in Montessori Education degree.

Oak Farm Montessori School, founded in 2000 by Lorene Dekko Salsbery, also will serve as Trine’s primary partner for observation, practicum and student teaching opportunities for students. A variety of local Montessori education settings also may provide clinical opportunities.

Trine’s new Montessori teacher education program is made possible in part through a grant from the Dekko Foundation. The foundation, which seeks to foster economic freedom through education, will provide $385,000 toward startup costs, which include salary for a program director and redesigning a classroom on the Trine campus to mirror a best-practice Montessori environment for elementary-age learners.

“As Trine University prepares its students to succeed, lead and serve, and also looks for new ways to enhance the quality of life in Indiana, we are grateful for generous partners like the Dekko Foundation,” said Brooks.

“The educators who complete this program will be grounded in the principles of child development and how to provide high-quality learning environments for young people that will assist them in building knowledge, skills and character so that they can grow up to be self-sufficient and ultimately economically free,” said Tom Leedy, president of the Dekko Foundation.

The Dekko Foundation is hiring!

The Dekko Foundation has an opening on its staff for a program officer. The details of the position are explained below.

PROGRAM OFFICER

SUMMARY

The Dekko Foundation seeks a full-time Program Officer. The Program Officer is responsible for reviewing grant proposals and managing relationships with grantees. The ideal candidate has strong interpersonal and communication skills, demonstrated critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and a heart for working with nonprofit organizations. The Program Officer works with staff, grantseekers, committees, and grantees to ensure that the Dekko Foundation’s mission of fostering economic freedom through education is carried out through effective grantmaking.

EXPERIENCE

The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five years of experience working in the nonprofit sector or related field. Knowledge of professional philanthropy is a plus. See additional details listed below.

EDUCATION

The Dekko Foundation values education, through both formal institutions and life experiences. The ideal candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of education for this position through a certification, degree, or real work experience related to the work of a Program Officer.

EXPECTATIONS FOR EMPLOYEES

Supports the Foundation’s mission, vision, and values by exhibiting the following behaviors: excellence, competence, collaboration, innovation, respect, commitment to our community, accountability, and ownership. 

POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Program Officer plays a key role at the Dekko Foundation. As a consistent representative of the Dekko Foundation, a Program Officer embodies the values and mission of the Foundation. This position requires out-of-state travel, and on occasion meetings outside of normal business hours. The Program Officer is responsible to the Vice President of Programs to carry out all of the responsibilities related to a responsive grant portfolio.

PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY

Complete a portfolio of grant proposals that requires making site visits, managing relationships with grantees, developing grant outcomes and milestones, and monitoring grant progress and impact.

  • Review grant proposals. Draft and edit grant proposal summaries and recommendations for staff, committee, and board review.
  • Participate in, and sometimes lead, multi-disciplinary teams addressing current and emerging Foundation priorities.
  • Provide high-quality customer service to colleagues, grantseekers, and grantees by responding promptly and respectfully to a variety of inquiries.
  • Contribute to the ongoing process of developing systems to measure, learn from, and improve impact.
  • Be an active and supportive member of the program team.
  • Create, implement, and/or lead special projects as assigned.
  • Maintain collegial working relationships with colleagues and constituents.
  • Any other responsibilities as assigned.

CHARACTER

The Program Officer is best described as a servant leader. They are professional, personable, upbeat, approachable, flexible, respectful, motivated, and passionate about the mission of the Foundation.

SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

  • Ability to make sound decisions that align with organizational priorities.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to identify and solve problems individually and as a team.
  • Effective presentation skills.
  • Proven creativity.
  • Strong critical thinking skills.
  • Basic Microsoft Office knowledge.
  • Appreciation for self-directed learning.

CONTACT AND QUESTIONS

Contact Jenna Ott, Vice President of Programs, at 260-347-1278 or jott@dekkofoundation.org with any questions related to the Program Officer position.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, professional resume, and two references to Jenna Ott at the email address above on or before Monday, December 9, 2019.