Foundation invests in projects that build knowledge, skills, character

The Dekko Foundation, a private family foundation located in Kendallville, IN, with a mission of fostering economic freedom through education, awarded more than $499,000 in grants and pledges to 18 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:

  • Cole Center Family YMCA (Kendallville, IN): $20,000 to support the YMCA’s summer youth program, Camp Wethonkitha, which is a collaboration with the City of Kendallville Park and Recreation Department.
  • Fort Wayne Zoological Society (Fort Wayne, IN): $67,794 over two years to support the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s Zoomobile program for students in the Dekko Foundation’s grantmaking priority counties in Northeast Indiana.
  • Harold W. McMillen Center for Health Education (Fort Wayne, IN): $30,000 to support the center’s preventative health education programs for students in the Dekko Foundation’s grantmaking priority counties in Northeast Indiana.
  • Historic Forks of the Wabash (Huntington, IN): $7,500 to support upgrades to facilities so that more young people in Northeast Indiana can learn about the region’s history.
  • Indiana Youth Institute, Inc. (Indianapolis, IN): $60,000 to support the organization’s programs and services for youth workers in Northeast Indiana that positively impact their interactions with children and young people.
  • Joe’s Kids, Inc. (Warsaw, IN): $25,000 to support the organization’s therapy services for children and young people that contribute to their healthy development.
  • Malachy Catholic School (Creston, IA): $50,000 to support the construction of a new playground that encourages physical movement and outdoor play.
  • East Noble School Corp. (Kendallville, IN): $9,725 to support a portable sound and lighting system for the high school’s competitive choirs so that performances and student engagement are enhanced.
  • Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc. (New Haven, IN): $10,000 to support the organization’s Indiana Rail Camp for young people so they can build skills through hands-on learning about trains and railroads.
  • Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. (Warsaw, IN): $12,800 to support Launchpad, the county’s early learning coalition that is working to address childcare needs in the community and educators’ professional development.
  • Ruth Stultz Nursery School, Inc. (Ligonier, IN): $11,008 to support facility improvements so that children are in a learning environment that contributes to building knowledge, skills, and character.
  • Shore Church, Inc. (Shipshewana, IN): $28,000 to support facility improvements so that more children learn in an environment that is safe, comfortable, and promotes their healthy development.
  • Spirit of Athens, Alabama, Inc. (Athens, AL): $9,000 to support the construction of a children’s pavilion at the Athens Farmers Market that will be used for educational and entertainment programs.
  • Athens Limestone County Tourism (Athens, AL): $4,000 to support Superhero Day, in which children connect with everyday heroes like police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders and participate in educational activities.
  • LaGrange County 4-H Club Association (LaGrange, IN): $40,000 to support facility projects at the LaGrange County 4-H Fairgrounds so that young people and families have an enhanced experience at the fair.
  • Leon United Methodist Church (Leon, IA): $4,500 to support local Boy Scouts’ participation in a backpacking trek in the American Southwest where they learn teamwork, responsibility, and leadership.
  • Ringgold County Fair Association (Mount Ayr, IA): $100,000 to support a facility expansion project at the county fairgrounds so that more educational programs can be offered to young people and they gain skills in agriculture and raising livestock.
  • Southern Iowa STEAM Academy (Chariton, IA): $10,000 to support summer camps in which children build problem-solving and critical-thinking skills through hands-on learning about science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

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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