Our 40th Birthday
Since Mr. Chester E. Dekko started the Dekko Foundation in 1981, we’ve been privileged to invest in a lot of great ideas that our grantees have had for supporting the healthy development of children and young people so they can be self-sufficient and grow up to achieve economic freedom.
When it came time to mark the foundation’s 40th birthday, we wanted to share the joy with grantseekers, grantees, and all the special organizations and individuals that we’ve gotten to know and work with over the years. And, even as we remembered the past and celebrated how far we’ve come, we’re excited for what the next 40 years hold for our mission of fostering economic freedom through education.
That’s why we chose the theme “From 40 to Forward” for our 40th birthday and held open houses in our grantmaking priority areas in Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, and Minnesota. We also surprised 10 “Forward Thinking” organizations and presented them with a check for $4,000 in recognition of their great ideas for serving children and young people.
In conjunction with the release of our 2021 annual report, “40 Years of Great Ideas,” we’re proud to highlight the work of those 10 “Forward Thinking” organizations. And if you have your own great idea for helping children and young people build knowledge, skills, and character in ways that align with mission and funding priorities, we’d love to hear about them. Please feel free to contact our staff at 260-347-1278 or email email@example.com. Or you’re welcome to send us a proposal.
“FORWARD THINKING” ORGANIZATIONS
- The Alley (Lamoni, IA): Through its after-school programs and summer camps, The Alley provides a safe and fun space for young people in Lamoni to build skills as they explore the arts, music, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. It’s also been a strong community partner, working with the city, Lamoni Community Schools, Graceland University, and Youth Launch to address barriers facing children and young people.
- Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission (Athens, AL): This group, organized by the City of Athens, provides opportunities for teens to help spark positive change, be leaders in their community, and give their time, talent, and treasure. For example, the Youth Commission has started its own podcast where young people can share their ideas and insights on what’s happening in Athens.
- The Bowen Center (Cromwell, IN): For years, the Bowen Center has been a resource and support for the underserved community of Enchanted Hills near Lake Wawasee. It provides an after-school program for young people, an employment program for teens, and operates a food pantry and clothing bank. Recently, the Bowen Center has led efforts to create a disc golf course within the community, and young people will be able to compete in a tournament.
- The Crew Youth Center (Kendallville, IN): The Crew provides after-school and summer programs for young people in Kendallville that support their development through relationship, education, and experience. It started a summer lawn care program in which young people gained valuable skills while assisting seniors and disabled residents with their yards. And it is launching a career pathways program aimed at helping adolescents determine their next steps after high school.
- Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District (Garrett, IN): Leaders at Garrett-Keyser-Butler have been intentional about aligning learning environments with the principles of child development. For example, educators are supported through ongoing professional development that sparks paradigm shifts as they work to meets students’ needs. And the district’s Career Development Program makes education relevant to students by helping them explore their interests, build highly valued knowledge and skills, and connect with mentors and employers.
- Gary Cares (Gary, MN): Community members came together to plan and develop Gary Pines, a 160-acre recreation area just outside Gary, MN, that features a six-mile trail system, a ninja course and natural play space for children, a memorial forest, and picnic shelter. Proposed future plans include making a portion of Gary Pines Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, creating forest classrooms, and establishing educational programs around identifying the food, fruit, trees, and animals found in Gary Pines.
- Giving Gardens of Indiana (Columbia City, IN): What began as a small community garden has blossomed into year-round programming, plant sales, produce markets, a partnership with a local alternative school, and a forest school serving children ages 3-12. This fall, Giving Gardens started a nature-based preschool for children ages 3-6. The preschool, which is open throughout the year, takes advantage of Giving Gardens’ natural setting to support the children’s cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development.
- High Hopes (Ada, MN): High Hopes offers consultation, screening, and tutoring services for individuals of all ages who struggle with dyslexia and reading disabilities in Ada, MN, Norman County, and the surrounding area. Earlier this year, the City Council in nearby Hendrum, MN, approved a lease agreement with High Hopes that paves the way for the nonprofit organization to open a reading and dyslexia center in the former Norman County West elementary school building.
- Lighthouse Montessori Education Center (Ashley, IN): Lighthouse was founded in 2020 through a unique collaboration between another early learning center, a church, and a local business that saw a need for high-quality child care for its workers. Employers can become Lighthouse sponsors, which reserves child care spots for their employees. Demand for Lighthouse’s programs, which serve children ages 6 weeks to 10 years, has grown quickly, rising from 15 students in fall 2020 to 80 in fall 2022.
- Mission 25 (Columbia City, IN): For more than 20 years, Mission 25 has provided recovery, prevention, and support services for residents of Whitley County. It expanded its programming in recent years to serve at-risk children in the Miami Village mobile home park. The after-school and out-of-school program received an additional boost this year when Mission 25 renovated its community center in Miami Village. By revamping the space, the nonprofit organization aims to provide a safer, more trustworthy environment for children that fosters choice, collaboration, and empowerment.