2020 In a Word

When 2020 began, the question on our minds was – Is Rush County ready for change? We certainly didn’t anticipate the TYPE of changes we would face, but we did get one thing right. HOW we would handle them – TOGETHER.


In preparation for the large scale funding opportunity from Lilly Endowment Inc., we released the findings from the Community Insights conversations and online survey that were completed at the end of 2019. Rush County’s Readiness for Change shed light on important points. Population decline is a major challenge. Jobs go where people are. People go where they want to live. We love our rural ag heritage and small town life but are lacking in certain amenities.


This report informed our $5 million grant to Lilly Endowment for a community center. On Friday, March 13, we submitted the initial proposal. By Monday the 16th, our world would be a different place with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in America.


Through your generous gifts, we were able to support our community through the crisis. Together, we gave $50,000 to Rush Memorial Hospital and established the Rush to Help: COVID-19 Rapid Relief Fund, granting nearly $30,000 to support basic needs, education and economic relief efforts.


Life looked different for everyone, especially the RCHS Class of 2020. Celebrations were altered or canceled, but our community rallied around the seniors and found new ways to cheer them on. Because of your support of our scholarship funds, more than $192,000 was awarded to 62 students to pursue their dreams of higher education.


Support for local organizations continued, too. The CIRCLe Fund awarded $16,500 to the Boys & Girls Club to establish a technology center and coding class for youth. Another $23,000 was awarded from Field of Interest Funds to support education, agriculture and hunger relief. Your gifts allowed us to award more than $45,000 in Community Grants funds to local nonprofits in their efforts to support some of Rush County’s most vulnerable residents and acquire crucial tools to keep our community safe.


While our office was open by appointment only, work behind the scenes continued. We transitioned to a new accounting/donor/grantmaking/scholarship software, which put the scholarship process completely online. Our National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations accreditation was renewed. This ensures that that we meet high expectations to demonstrate evidence of excellence, accountability, impact and distinction. As a donor, you can be certain that we will be good stewards of your gifts.


Good news from Lilly Endowment’s GIFT VII program began arriving in the fall. We were awarded a $100,000 Leadership Grant to create a community action plan with input from residents and a $100,000 Board Engagement grant to help fund activities from the plan.


In May we learned our initial $5 million proposal had made it to the final round as one of 17 projects statewide. The final proposal was quietly submitted on August 28th. On December 1st, we learned the time was right for a community center to become a reality for Rush County – our proposal was funded!


Nicholas Neuman became the latest Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipient from Rush County. He will receive full, 4-year tuition to his college of choice, Purdue.


It felt amazing to be able to bring so much good news to the community and hope for the future in the last days of what felt like the longest year. Ready or not, Rush County, some incredible changes are about to take place. We’ll be meeting them just like we always do, together.

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