Foundation invests in projects that support youth

The Dekko Foundation, a private family foundation located in Kendallville, IN, with a mission of fostering economic freedom through education, awarded more than $1.1 million in grants and pledges to 12 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:

  • Ada-Borup-West School District (Ada, MN): $7,000 to support the addition of potter’s wheels that elementary, junior, and senior high students can use to build skills, explore their interests, and express their creativity.
  • The Center for Whitley County Youth (Columbia City, IN): $300,000 over three years to support the organization’s programs for young people, its connections with local families, and its increased financial sustainability.
  • Learn to Read Council of Athens & Limestone County, Inc. (Athens, AL): $22,000 over two years to support the organization’s after-school and summer literacy programs for young people.
  • Lost Sparrows, Inc. (Winona Lake, IN): $20,000 to support the organization’s annual conference in which educators, youth-serving professionals, and parents learn about adverse childhood experiences and how they can aid children’s healthy development.
  • Ada-Borup-West School District: $22,000 to support the launch of a career and technical education program so that students in grades 8-12 can take part in hands-on learning and plan for their next steps after high school.
  • Chariton Community School District (Chariton, IA): $14,475 over two years to support the district’s partnership with the Southern Iowa STEAM Academy to provide science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education and enrichment to students.
  • Cole Center Family YMCA (Kendallville, IN): $400,000 to support updating pool facilities so that young people can learn water safety, build skills, and participate in competitive programs.
  • Joe’s Kids, Inc. (Warsaw, IN): $75,000 to support acquiring property for a new campus location that will help the organization meet the growing need for therapy services for children and young people with developmental delays.
  • Lakeland School Corporation (LaGrange, IN): $100,000 to support the startup of a dental academy for high school students where they can learn, build skills, and earn certifications that can lead to potential careers after graduation.
  • Limestone County Schools (Athens, AL): $10,000 to support the renovation of a courtyard at East Limestone High School so the learning environment is improved for students and there are more opportunities for outdoor classes and events.
  • Limestone County Schools: $100,000 to support the construction of a training facility at the Limestone County Career Technical Center where students in building trades classes can gain skills in commercial construction.
  • Murray Community School District (Murray, IA): $25,000 to support updating the district’s library so that students in grades K-12 are more engaged in their learning.
  • Smith-Green Community Schools (Churubusco, IN): $75,000 to support updating the junior-senior high school’s auditorium with new lighting so that students can follow their interests, express their creativity, and build performance skills.
  • Athens Bible School (Athens, AL): $6,231 to support the school’s use of an assessment tool so that educators can better understand students’ needs and how they can enhance the learning environment in their classrooms.

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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