Outside Resources

We have a lot of good people working on a lot of great projects around our county. Whether on projects to help our children and keep them safe like our local Infant Safety Team or work to add fun amenities to our community like the MYPath Trail System or the Gosport Riverfront, many of our neighbors are pitching in to improve our community. But for all of the work and donations being made here locally, we also look outside our community for help and support with grants to augment our work here in Sweet Owen.

In most cases, the pursuit of outside funding from large foundations like Lilly Endowment Inc (LEI) or from the state or federal government is an “extra” duty for the people who are working for our local organizations. Often, completing the grant proposal or application is a weeks or even months long process of gathering data and digging into the issues that confront us so we can provide a good case for our need for support to potential funders. Almost all of these grants are decided in a competitive process, so it’s crucial to tell a compelling story, backed up by data, about how we can use the outside support to make real impact.

I’m not sure how much the community realizes the extraordinary efforts made to help our neighbors. Rest assured, our local teams are giving it their all. Here are a few of the major projects going on right now.

The Lilly Endowment Comprehensive Counseling Initiative has provided major grants to both Spencer – Owen and Cloverdale Schools to “increase significantly the number of K-12 students in Indiana who are emotionally healthy, realize academic success, graduate from high school, obtain valuable postsecondary credentials, certifications and degrees necessary for meaningful employment, and are prepared to compete and prosper in the global society in which they will live and work.”

Spencer – Owen Schools have embarked on an aggressive program to make innovative improvements in our schools with a planning grant from the Regional Opportunity Initiative (ROI). The ROI “Ready Schools” initiative is helping our local educators and administrators “to engage business leaders, community stakeholders, parents and students in meaningful dialogue about what success means within their community and to develop a plan to obtain that success.” When all the work is done, we hope the result will be an approach that will support students in achieving their academic and career goals.

Our county is also working with ROI on a “Ready Communities” planning grant to help create an atmosphere here that will help us to attract a workforce that will support our local and regional industries. We want to find ways to enhance the “quality of place” so we are attractive to our own young people and can convince more of them to stay here where they will be able to find good jobs, good housing, and a welcoming community. We will also engage in outreach to young people living outside of the county but who work here and hope to learn from them how we can offer a community that works for their young families.

Governor Holcomb has made $90 million in state support available to communities in the Next Level Trails program (NLT). MYPath has submitted a proposal to extend the Riverfront Trail and to begin paving parts of MYPath. The NLT project will be another attempt at continuing the great support we’ve received so far in MYPath’s development. Our trailhead project was funded by Indiana’s Place Based Investment Fund and our original land purchases across the river were supported by Indiana’s Bicentennial Nature Trust.

And finally, your Owen County Community Foundation recently submitted our Community Leadership plan proposal to LEI to get a $50,000 planning grant for Community Leadership. We hope to update plans for MYPath which is also part of our NLT proposal. We are working on plans to help the OCCF improve our capacity to serve our donors with a focus on younger donors who will be the future of Owen County. This grant project also intertwines with part of the Ready Communities plan for ROI. There is a great deal of collaboration between all of these efforts, too.

All of this work involves “extra” duties for our school’s staff, local non-profits, and local government. I wanted to call out some amazing folks who are working hard to help bring in these outside resources, but, I’m afraid, this is a classic “too many people to name here” situation. So please, send out a collective round of applause for all of your local citizens who are working so hard for our community.

The many contributions by the grant project teams will get us started but most of these programs are going to require more help from the community members by providing input on surveys or by attending work sessions or group discussions to help create a positive vision for the future of Owen County. We will need your ideas and opinions, so we hope you will help these projects along by participating wherever possible. I thank the many volunteers who have already agreed to serve on the various community advisory teams and hope to see more of you involved in the coming months.

We’ve got a lot of good things going on in our communities. Let’s all pitch in to help the positive momentum continue.

Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value community involvement and charitable spirit – and we value the support we receive from outside our community.

If you would like to know more about any of these grant initiatives or discuss other ways you can work with your OCCF to help your neighbors, contact us. You can give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our new office at 60 E. Market Street in Spencer.