History of the Warren County Community Foundation
The Warren County Community Foundation, Inc. was organized on April 8, 1998 as an affiliate of the Covington Community Foundation. The original committee of the Foundation was formed and the officers were elected. The eleven members consisted of Nancy Clark, Burton Etchison, Steven Fellure, Jon Inman, Bill Martin, Gene McGowen, Curt Overpeck, William Powell, David Poor, Reena Potter and Ernest Slauter. Ernest Slauter was appointed to the position of chairman, Jon Inman was the Vice-Chairman, Reena Potter was the Secretary, and Burton Etchison was the Treasurer.
By organizing before April 30, 1998, WCCF qualified for Phase III of the Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT program. Phase III provided a $1 million grant opportunity. $500,000 of the money was allocated as a project grant to obtain the vacated Flexel property and establish an industrial park on that location. The remaining $500,000 was utilized as a challenge grant for endowment building on a one-for-one match. WCCF ultimately was unable to obtain the Flexel property; however the funds were used to form the local Economic Development Organization and to create an industrial park near Williamsport.
In April of 1999 WCCF moved into its present location at 31 North Monroe Street in Williamsport. At this time, Board members began the process of obtaining a corporate charter and a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization tax-exempt status. On October 1, 1999 WCCF disaffiliated from the Covington Foundation and became an independent public foundation.
In October 1999 WCCF qualified for Phase IV of the Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT program. This phase was for a total possible grant of $1.5million, divided into three parts. The grant consisted of three-for-one match for office operations up to $300,000, and $1.2million for direct project grants (with no match) or endowment asset building with a one-for-one match. WCCF elected to allocate $1.098 million to project grants in the Warren County community. Projects included: $450,000 for the Williamsport-Washington Township Library; $185,000 for a new fire truck at the Pine Village Fire Station; $75,000 for the Falls Junction in Williamsport,; $53,000 for a Seeger/Warren Central communication system; $130,000 to enhance recreational facilities in Williamsport, Pine Village, West Lebannon, and Cicott Park; and $165,000 for a 4-H livestock barn, sidewalks, and restroom. Phase IV ultimately allowed WCCF to distribute grants to every request submitted by the community at some level.
John and Liz Rader made a generous donation in May of 2000 by donating the Foundation office building. This donation qualified WCCF for the three-for-one match operations. Along with the grant, donated labor and office items provided for a complete remodeling of the building with new offices and exterior improvements. In addition, the grant paid for office furniture, computers, and software.
In that same year, Lilly Endowment offered community foundations across Indiana the opportunity to apply for a $50,000 planning grant for implementation of the CAPE (Community Alliances to Promote Education) program. A steering committee was formed with representations of local governments, industry educators and concerned citizens. Warren County educational needs were surveyed and identified throughout the county, corrective measures were developed, and a proposal was submitted to Lilly Endowment. In December of 2000, WCCF was notified that Warren County was successful in obtaining the $5 million grant. As a result of the CAPE program, several educational initiatives were implemented, including: the construction of the Warren County Learning Center; the creation of the Bi-county Alternative School which would assist students with social and academic needs; the creation of labs at Seeger High School; and supplemental funds for school curriculum and staff development, along with distance learning opportunities.
The generosity of Warren County friends is evident by the established 83 named funds at the WCCF. All were created by individual and group donors with the intent to improve our youth and community through essential programs and services. Together with the community, the Foundation will continue to grow and provide benefits and resources towards the betterment of our home, Warren County.