Foundation invests in organizations’ work with young people

KENDALLVILLE, IN — The Dekko Foundation, a private family foundation located in Kendallville, IN, with a mission of fostering economic freedom through education, awarded more than $1.7 million in grants and pledges to 21 youth-serving organizations during its most recent round of grantmaking.

The foundation, started in 1981 by the late businessman and philanthropist Chester E. Dekko, invests in projects and programs that help build knowledge, skills, and character in children and young people from birth through age 18 so they can be self-sufficient and grow up to be economically free.

Its grantmaking is concentrated within 13 counties in four states — Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, and Minnesota — where Mr. Dekko had business or personal interests.

Organizations receiving grants and pledges were:

  • City of Ada (Ada, MN): $200,000 to support improvements at the Dekko Community Center that enhance the programs and services it offers to Norman County residents.
  • Cole Center Family YMCA (Kendallville, IN): $90,000 over three years to support Camp Wethonkitha, a summer day camp for preschool through middle school students offered in collaboration with the City of Kendallville.
  • Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, Inc. (Fort Wayne, IN): $1,000 to support members of the Whitley County Children’s Choir participating in a camp in Fort Wayne.
  • Fort Wayne Zoological Society (Fort Wayne, IN): $279,882 over three years to support the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s Zoo Scientific Inquiry (ZSI) program that travels to elementary schools in the Dekko Foundation’s grantmaking priority area in Northeast Indiana.
  • Graceland University (Lamoni, IA): $624,330 over three years to support the AmeriCorps Youth Launch program that serves communities in the foundation’s grantmaking priority area in South-Central Iowa.
  • Harold W. McMillen Center for Health Education (Fort Wayne, IN): $30,000 to support the center’s preventative education programs provided to students in the foundation’s grantmaking priority area in Northeast Indiana.
  • RespectTeam (Huntertown, IN): $10,000 to support the organization’s programs for middle and high school students in the foundation’s grantmaking priority area in Northeast Indiana.
  • Steuben County Community Foundation (Angola, IN): $3,500 to support young people helping plan and operate the annual Angola Balloons Aloft family festival.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tennessee Valley (Huntsville, AL): $17,000 to support the organization’s launch of a youth mentoring program in Limestone County.
  • Central Noble Community School Corp. (Albion, IN): $15,000 to support teacher professional development and resources so high school students can build career-ready skills through new courses.
  • Chariton Community School District (Chariton, IA): $2,500 to support opportunities for special education students to build vocational and life skills so they can engage in meaningful work in their community.
  • Community Foundation of Whitley County (Columbia City, IN): $100,000 to support the foundation’s efforts to increase its endowment funds so it can address community issues including early learning, workforce development, social services, and mental health.
  • East Union Community Schools (Afton, IA): $300,000 to support renovating an existing building so it can house a new early learning center for infants and toddlers.
  • Limestone County Schools (Athens, AL): $5,000 to support improvements to the Elkmont High School library so it better meets students’ learning needs.
  • Little Lambs Preschool Daycare Ministry (Syracuse, IN): $6,000 to support curriculum training and resources for staff so they can better meet the developmental needs of young people.
  • Auburn Main Street (Auburn, IN): $10,000 to support a project led by its Junior Auburn Main Street program to develop and build a memorial honoring DeKalb County veterans.
  • Angola Performing Arts Academy, Inc. (Angola, IN): $2,500 to support a theater camp for young people where they can engage with the arts, follow their interests, and build skills.
  • Clarke County Public Health (Osceola, IA): $1,000 to support a bike share program that encourages family members to ride together and be physically active.
  • 2nd Floor Gallery, Ltd. (Churubusco, IN): $5,000 to support the organization’s after-school and summer arts programs for young people so they can build skills and express themselves creatively.
  • Steuben Arts Scene Corp. (Angola, IN): $15,000 to support the organization’s arts programs for young people so they can follow their interests, develop their talents, and express themselves creatively.
  • World Baseball Academy (Fort Wayne, IN): $5,000 to support the organization’s program that uses aspects of baseball to teach STEM concepts to DeKalb County Central United School District fourth-grade students.

If you’d like to learn more about how investments such as these support children and young people so they can achieve economic freedom later in life, contact a Dekko Foundation program officer at 260-347-1278. Or visit to explore the foundation’s mission and funding priorities, review its grantmaking process, or send a grant proposal.

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