Meet our team: Payton Hunley

Payton Hunley, grants and program associate

Payton Hunley is the grants and program associate at the Dekko Foundation. She joined the staff in June of 2022 after serving as a graduate assistant volleyball coach at her alma mater, Bethel University.

Question: In your role as grants and program associate, what are some of the primary responsibilities you handle from day to day?

Answer: My primary responsibilities are running weekly reports, processing payments, producing grant paperwork, and maintaining the daily functions of the grants management system. I also review, draft, and edit grant proposals for the staff, Grant Review Committee, and board meetings.

Q: What are some of the things you’ve learned about philanthropy since joining the team?

A: I have learned so much about philanthropy since joining the team. First and foremost, I learned how to pronounce it! (After a lot of practice. 😊) Philanthropy is so much more than just donating money. At the Dekko Foundation, philanthropy is finding ways to invest in positive change in children and young people so they can grow up to be economically free. In my eyes, I think of philanthropy as giving time, money, or resources to help make the world a better place.

Q: What would you want a potential grantseeker to know about our work here at the foundation?

A: I would want potential grant seekers to know that the staff at the Dekko Foundation are approachable and helpful. The Dekko Foundation team is always looking for ways to connect people with resources and potential networking opportunities, so one should never hesitate to email or call us with questions.

If you’d like to learn more about our mission of fostering economic freedom through education, contact Payton or a program officer at 260-347-1278, or email

Grants support organizations’ work with children

The Dekko Foundation, a private family foundation located in Kendallville, IN, with a mission of fostering economic freedom through education, awarded more than $288,000 in grants to 10 youth-serving organizations in four states 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 were:

  • Athens City Schools (Athens, AL): $2,500 to support expanded options for students at Athens Renaissance School to explore music.
  • City of Kendallville (Kendallville, IN): $9,000 over three years to support the children’s area at the annual Apple Festival of Kendallville.
  • Giving Gardens of Northern Indiana (Columbia City, IN): $50,000 to support the organization’s Wild Willow Nature Preschool.
  • Healthier Moms and Babies, Inc. (Fort Wayne, IN): $10,000 to support the organization’s prenatal home visitation program for expectant mothers in Noble and DeKalb counties.
  • Lost Sparrows, Inc. (Winona Lake, IN): $20,000 to support its conference on youth trauma at Grace College.
  • The Crew (Kendallville, IN): $32,000 to support its work with young people in the community.
  • Athens City Schools (Athens, AL): $10,000 to support Athens Intermediate School students’ visit to the Cook Museum of Natural Science.
  • Central Decatur Community School District (Leon, IA): $4,763 to support creating a music recording studio at Central Decatur Junior-Senior High School.
  • Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District (Garrett, IN): $30,000 to support an updated art room at J.E. Ober Elementary so students can better express themselves creatively.
  • City of Halstad (Halstad, MN): $100,000 to support turning a former school building into an education and recreation center for community members.
  • Pleasant View Early Learning (Warsaw, IN): $20,000 to support tuition assistance for parents.

For more information about the Dekko Foundation and its grantmaking, visit