GREENFIELD — The Hancock County Community Foundation, in partnership with the White Family Foundation endowment, awarded $65,000 in grants Thursday to eight county communities. The funds were given as part of the foundation’s Celebrating Communities initiatives, a two-year effort aimed at making Hancock County a better place to work, live and play, organizers said.
Beginning in summer 2013, foundation leaders met with stakeholders and residents in Charlottesville, Cumberland, Fortville, Greenfield, McCordsville, New Palestine, Shirley and Wilkinson to discuss what improvements were most needed in those towns or municipalities, foundation president Mary Gibble said.
Through this listening tour, as Gibble called it, the foundation learned of multiple projects and programs, many of which were in various stages of development and needed extra funding to move forward.
They included repairs at community centers and upgrades to facilities and local parks.
Grant committee members assigned ranks these projects and programs based on several qualities including budget, feasibility and sustainability, grant officer Kara Harrison said.
“We wanted to make sure that each project aligned with the communities vision, dreams and plans,” Harrison said.
“We’re thrilled to see how these projects will change Hancock County.”
Money for the grants came from $40,000 of the foundation’s unrestricted funds. Money from within these unrestricted funds can be used for an array of projects, Gibble said. One of the foundations endowments, the White Family Foundation, contributed $25,000 to the Celebrating Communities effort to make a grand total of $65,000 in awards.
On Thursday night at a reception, the foundation announced what projects had been selected for funding. They were:
•In Charlottesville, a grant of $9,670 was given to the Charlottesville’s Lions Club to repair the club’s building, which is commonly used for town functions.
•In Cumberland, a grant of $6,855 was given to repair the tennis courts at Lions Park.
•In Fortville, a grant for $9,500 was given to upgrade acoustics in the gym of the Fortville Community Center.
•In Greenfield, a grant for $2,000 was given to spruce up a mural painted along Pennsy Trail. A $6,000 grant also was given to Greenfield to commission decorative bicentennial historical panels to be placed along Pennsy Trail.
•In McCordsville, a grant for $8,300 was given to drill seed, plant trees and make other improvements to five acres of the McCordsville Town Hall Park.
•In New Palestine, a grant for $7,675 was given to help make plans to add trails, sidewalk, bike paths and other alternative transportation routes to the town’s layout.
•In Shirley, a grant for $8,700 was given to build a shelter for the town’s new historic railway car.
•In Wilkinson, a grant for $6,300 was given to purchase a new merry-go-round for Weir Cook Community park.
Foundation officer Michelle Leonard said this was the first time the community foundation awarded grants by conducting research rather than accepting applications. Each town and municipality has a year to put the grant dollars toward their respective projects.
“We put three years of effort and energy, so we want to see these projects continue,” Gibble said. “We are looking forward to 2016 when we can continue celebrating and improving the quality of life (in the county).”