… and we LOVE them for it!”
Those words that you thought you’d never hear come from Sandy Petrie, director of the Noble County Public Library in Albion, IN. Here’s the story:
Several years ago, the community of Albion, Indiana identified a problem: Too few children were entering school with the experiences they needed to thrive. Community leaders used their passion and ingenuity to design a solution. Their idea was KiPS (Kindergarten Prep School), an intensive summer fun/learning opportunity that welcomed future students and removed barriers to participation. The library could host the event, and the money that it would take could come from the Dekko Foundation. (This was exactly the kind of thing they like to support.)
Yes … except for one thing. The year was 2008. Our grantmaking capability (like that of all foundations) is tied to stock market performance. In short, with the downturn in the market, there was precious little money for grants. And the money that was available was needed to support excellent ongoing programs and organizations. New initiatives were out of the question.
A declination from our foundation was not what they hoped for, but Albion’s intrepid leaders would not let their idea go away. They went out into their community and found bits and pieces of support–kind of like a patchwork quilt–to launch their idea. The school found money in its budget to transport children. Local businesses and individuals contributed goods and services. Service clubs chipped in small grants.
In 2014, KiPS enjoyed its sixth year of preparing little people for school success. The community still steps forward with the money, goods and service needed to offer the opportunity. KiPS has reached that holy grail of sustainability.
“If the Dekko Foundation would have made the grant that we applied for, we would never have gone to our community,” Petrie said. “We would never have built the buy-in that sustains us so well each year.”
Supporting programs and organizations without removing community buy-in is always a challenge. But we find that balance in the thoughts of Mr. Dekko, our founder, who wanted to ‘help communities help themselves.’
P.S. Since the stock market, and our grantmaking ability, has rebounded, we’ve made a small investment in KiPS. But they sustain each year on their own.