Posts

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 dekkofoundation.org.

Our office is new; our mission remains unchanged

By Barry Rochford, strategic communication officer

“Thank you for calling the Dekko Foundation. How can I help you?”

For any potential grantseeker desiring more information about our mission, for any grantee wanting to touch base and share their progress, for anyone reaching out to be connected with our proactive initiatives, that’s the greeting they hear on the phone.

Wanting to help — to support the great things that adults and youth-serving organizations are doing so that children are taking steps forward to their eventual economic freedom — has been at the heart of what we do since Mr. Chester E. Dekko started the Dekko Foundation nearly 40 years ago in 1981.

Since that time, our founder’s home on Baby Mountain in Kendallville, Indiana, was where our work was centered. But with our eye toward the next 40 years and beyond, we’ve relocated our office few miles to the south in the Community Learning Center because we think doing so will make us even more effective at fostering economic freedom through education.

Where we work has changed. The work itself has not.

The Community Learning Center

The Community Learning Center in Kendallville.

Likewise, supporting our grantmaking priority areas — those places where Mr. Dekko had business or personal interests — continues to direct our work. Northeast Indiana, in particular DeKalb, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, and Whitley counties, will always be a priority for us because it’s where Mr. Dekko launched and grew what would become Group Dekko International. So, too, are Limestone County in Alabama and Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Ringgold, and Union counties in Iowa because Mr. Dekko located several of his manufacturing operations there. And the same goes for Norman County, Minnesota, because it was home to Mr. Dekko’s family, he grew up there, and he supported the community long before he created his namesake foundation.

So if our mission and work remain unchanged, you may be wondering, “Why move at all?” It’s a great question, and there are a few important reasons why we decided to relocate to the Community Learning Center.

First and foremost, Kendallville is our home. When a more than century-old, nearly 150,000-square-foot former school was vacated a few years ago, we joined with other community members and organizations to identify a new use for it. Those efforts, along with the invaluable support of local elected and education leaders, resulted in the Community Learning Center, which opened in 2019.

Being in the Community Learning Center provides the unique opportunity to work alongside organizations that serve children and young people and are striving to remove barriers to economic freedom. We believe the spirit of collaboration that guides the center and its programming will make us a better funder, as well as have a positive impact on Kendallville, Noble County, and Northeast Indiana.

Mr. Dekko was a strong advocate for communities seizing the initiative to solve their own problems and achieve their own successes. We think the Community Learning Center exemplifies that ideal. What’s more, with its mission of advancing the self-sufficiency of residents of all ages, the Community Learning Center and the organizations offering programs within it will support children and young people as they build knowledge, skills, and character that can set them on the path to economic freedom.

That’s our story. What’s yours? Does your organization have a project that contributes to children and young people growing up to be economically free? We’d love to hear about it.

“Thank you for calling the Dekko Foundation. How can I help you?”

Still committed to arts programming

By Barry Rochford, strategic communication officer

We recently notified educators and arts organizations about our decision to end our Art Dekko proactive grantmaking initiative. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain a little more about how we came to that decision while also affirming our continued commitment to investing in arts experiences for young people.

First, it should be said that we as a foundation love the arts. Our board and our staff love the arts for their ability to spark creativity, growth and change in young people. That’s why for more than 15 years the Dekko Foundation has invested more than $1.5 million in our grantmaking areas in Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Alabama through Art Dekko. On top of that, we’ve invested in other arts-related programs through our responsive grantmaking.

For those who might be unfamiliar with Art Dekko, each year in January we issued a request for proposals to invest in arts-related programming. If you’ve kept tabs on our Facebook page, you’ve seen some of the results of those Art Dekko investments.

As an organization, we, too, should grow, change and get better over time. Our founder, Mr. Chester E. Dekko, would certainly expect us to. So that’s why as we’ve thought about Art Dekko in recent months, we wondered if we could be making an even greater impact through our investments in arts programming. We believe the answer is yes.

What does that look like? When will that happen? To be honest, we’re still working on it. But we’re excited about what the future will bring, and we certainly welcome any feedback you might have.

In the meantime: We still want to invest in arts programming. We continue to welcome arts-related proposals through our responsive grantmaking process. We accept proposals daily, but since our responsive grantmaking is different from our Art Dekko initiative, we hope you’ll keep in mind the following:

  • You will need to complete an application online at dekkofoundation.org/apply-now. Our staff is always available by phone to answer any questions. Once your proposal has been received, someone will come out and meet with you to learn more.
  • Please allow 90 days prior to needing the funds for our staff to learn more about your proposal.
  • Please be prepared to talk about how your proposal will build the skills, knowledge and character young people need to live economically free lives.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 260-347-1278, or email me at brochford@dekkofoundation.org or Kim Davidson at kdavidson@dekkofoundation.org.

Working together to promote youth philanthropy

By Barry Rochford, strategic communication officer

The National Center for Family Philanthropy (ncfp.org) published a great article about our partnerships with community foundations in our grantmaking areas to encourage young people to get involved in philanthropy.

Our Kimberly Schroeder was among those interviewed for the article, which also featured the Community Foundation of Noble County’s Jenna Ott and the Community Foundation of Whitley County’s September McConnell. In the article, Kimberly explained the importance of getting young people engaged with philanthropy.

“The grantmaking is some of the most important work they do,” she said. “We give them the power to affect their community and they take that responsibility seriously.”

You can read the full story here.

You give us hope!

By Sharon Smith, Program Director

One of my most memorable days at the Dekko Foundation—and I’ve had lots of memorable days—happened one summer about ten years ago.  One of our grantees from Lamoni, Iowa named Benita Booth, was driving through Indiana on her way to the east coast. She wanted to stop in to see our office, say hello and meet our president.

Since we go out to visit our grantseekers, we don’t have that many office visitors—especially not people from out of state. We welcomed Mrs. Booth and sat in our president’s office for some polite small talk.  That’s when she dropped a thought so profound that I think about it to this day.

“You know,” she said, “the money you give us is really important.  But what you really do is give us hope.”

What an amazing way to synthesize the impact of grantmaking.  Giving hope to schools and nonprofits that want offer their young people the very best learning experiences.  Giving hope to communities that their young people will be ready for rewarding careers and independent lives.

When Mr. Dekko started our foundation in 1981, he left us with this mission:  To foster economic freedom through education. He believed that education offered all people hope that they might lead lives of economic freedom.

Thanks, Mrs. Booth, for giving us a new and memorable way of looking at things.

To learn more about grants from our foundation:

https://www.dekkofoundation.org/grantseeker-support/

Feel free to call and discuss an idea for a grant proposal:

260-347-1278