CIRCLe Fund Reaches $100,000 Milestone with Most Recent Grant

CIRCLe Fund members listen to a grant presentation from Jill Carmony, RCHS FACS, and Jeri McCorkle, First5, for their program, “Child Development: At Home & In the Workforce.”

Have you ever wondered what you could do with $100,000?” mused Betsy Williams, one of RCCF’s CIRCLe Fund founding donors, at their annual grant gala. The list included some mind-blowing options – buy an RV, yacht or champion racehorse; hire the band the Roots to play for your birthday party; purchase a set of six islands in northern Brazil; contract with a private security firm for a year; or even clone your dog.


While these are entertaining ideas, the CIRCLe Fund donors had something more meaningful in mind. “Why all this talk about $100,000?” she asked. “Well, after today, we as a CIRCLe of women, in just nine short years will have given away more than $100,000! What a milestone.”


The CIRCLe Fund (Chicks Impacting Rush County Life) is a women’s giving group. Annually, each member donates $300 that is pooled to award a large grant to a local organization. Most of the donation goes directly toward the grant. The remainder is added to a permanent RCCF fund to keep generating grant dollars in perpetuity.


Each year the chicks gather to hear presentations from applicants and vote for their choice to receive the award. Thoughtful discussion takes place and tough decisions are made with care.
To date, the CIRCLe Fund has granted to Rush County organizations primarily supporting youth and women including: Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters/MoRE for Kids, Rush County Victims Assistance, Rush County Historical Society, Rushville Parks, and Rushville Public Library.


That trend continues with this year’s grantee – “Child Development: At Home & In the Workforce” program. This is a collaboration between Rushville Consolidated High School’s (RCHS) Family and Consumer Science Department (FACS) and First5 Rush County’s Early Learning Coalition. The project will give Rush County students hands-on experience in the realities of childcare with a new concentration.


Jill Carmony, Department Head of FACS, will use the $19,519 CIRCLe grant to purchase an Early Childhood Care and Service kit that includes infant simulators and a corresponding curriculum with resources and assessment tools. “Child Development classes will be reoriented from the singular focus on parenting to a broader focus that includes childcare as a viable business option,” she explained.


Each RealCare Baby® is life-like with sensors to monitor physical movement, appropriate attire, feeding, and temperature/time spent inside of a car. It also makes nearly 100 sounds recorded from human babies. Each student will have a wristband that connects to their baby and monitors their care of it.


Research has shown that 90% of the human brain develops within the first five years of life. Access to early learning opportunities is crucial to a child’s healthy development and overall success in life. First5 Director, Jeri McCorkle, will connect students to existing childcare facilities dedicated to early learning. This hands-on experience will supplement their classroom education and possibly spark their interest in a career in the field.


This project is timely. A recent study by Early Learning Indiana highlighted the great need for high-quality childcare in Rush County. With approximately 680 children under the age of five in Rush County in need of childcare, there are currently only 280 openings of licensed and registered providers. The gap is huge in our community. This program could help fill it.


CIRCLe Fund members hope it will, giving our youngest residents the best foundation for a successful life. “I love the way our ladies help great people accomplish great things in Rush County, year after year!” exclaimed Pam Hoeing, another of the CIRCLe Fund’s founders.


If you’d like to join the CIRCLe and help determine next year’s grantee, your $300 membership donation is due to RCCF by 12/31/2022. Give online or in-person/by mail: RCCF, 117 N Main Street, Rushville, IN 46173.


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