The Van Wert County Foundation celebrated another year of monumental charitable giving.

Collectively, donor funds held by The Van Wert County Foundation granted nearly $3.1 million to the community in 2017. Established in 1925, The Foundation had over 200 such funds and $83.7 million in assets under administration at year-end.

The Foundation facilitated gifts of nearly $2.2 million to dozens of nonprofit organizations through unrestricted, designated, field of interest, charitable organization, multi-purpose, donor-advised, and community project funds.

There are more than 80 scholarship funds held at The Foundation, making it the largest provider of scholarships in Paulding and Van Wert counties. Last year, the organization awarded a record $825,500 through the scholarship program to 241 local college students.

“Our impact on Van Wert County and our surrounding area is possible because of the vision and passion of our donors – both present and past,” said Seth Baker, Executive Secretary. “We are here to harness philanthropy, but we go beyond simply making grants that advance charitable activities. Our goal is to channel resources to address our communities’ needs and to help our area prepare for the future.”

Competitive grants are only one part of the Foundation’s annual grant-making process. Many grants are directed by the donor to the causes that they care about the most through their charitable giving fund established at the Foundation. Donor Advised, Designated, and Field of Interest funds allow the donor to give directly to an organization or cause of their choosing. The Foundation then facilitates those wishes.

“We are here to serve as a resource and partner,” states Amanda Miller, marketing and resource development manager, “for our community philanthropists and the organizations they give to. We are working to bridge the gap between donor and grantee by offering multiple, diverse ways of giving and creating a capacity building program that provides professional guidance in non-profit organizational development.”

Franklin Park is The Foundation’s current community impact project. A three-year project, 2017 construction consisted of a pavilion, splash pad, 2-5-year-old playground, and a 5-12-year-old playground. Electrical work, site lighting, and site amenities were also installed – including benches, trash receptacles, picnic tables, and drinking fountains. Site-specific trees were planted in the fall.

Franklin Park’s splash pad will open this spring.  The 2-5-year-old playground and 5-12-year-old playground – which provide activities for all children no matter their age or physical ability – is open for use. Therapeutic and sensory play stations are incorporated into the playground designs.

Final construction of the three-year project will conclude by July 1, 2018. The final phase will include a basketball court, double pickleball court, and skateboard park. Remaining sidewalk connections, art installations, signage, and landscaping will finish the project.

Community Project Funds facilitated over $460,000 in giving through community initiatives and project donations. One such project was established by 2016 Van Wert High School graduates Nick White and Nick Gorman. As part of a senior capstone project, they were tasked with identifying and solving a problem using the engineering design process. They noticed that there was no safe route for students to walk or bike to the Van Wert City School’s campus. Working with The City of Van Wert, White and Gorman created an engineered solution that would connect the campus to Van Wert’s existing sidewalk network. The route will begin at the school, head north on 118 to the Fox Road intersection. The walk will cross to the north side of Fox Road and connect to pre-existing sidewalks at Westwood Drive. Total project costs are estimated to be nearly $90,000. They established a Community Project Fund at The Van Wert County Foundation to facilitate giving. Through their efforts and the established fund, they are now within $5,500 of their goal. Any community member or organization can contribute to this charitable fund at any time.