Counting on Love: The Robert and Gleela Baldwin Fund for Early Learning

Some of life’s most cherished bonds can happen between children and their grandparents. When we’re young, we’re wrapped in the feeling of their love. As we get older, we begin to understand them as the people behind that love. This is the case for brothers, Nathan and Jacob Baldwin.


Their grandpa, Robert Baldwin, was a Rush County native. He lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his aunt. This loss likely affected the importance he placed on family as an adult. He graduated from Rushville High School in 1938 and went on to attend Indiana University. In Bloomington he was also active outside of the classroom as a member of the track team, orchestra and Marching Hundred Band. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting in 1942. Following graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for three years during World War II in the South Pacific, achieving the rank of Master Sergeant.


At his job after the war, Robert met Gleela Garris, a farm girl from Fortville with a million-dollar smile, who was working as a bookkeeper. Knowing her background, he keenly asked her to the Indiana State Fair for their first date. His plan paid off. They married soon after in 1950. She was the love of his life. They raised their five children and would later dote on their 12 grandchildren at their home in Indianapolis.


They were caring, loving, sacrificial people,” recalls Jacob. “They lived out their faith; they didn’t just talk about it.” Family was everything to both Robert and Gleela. They supported each other, their children and grandchildren, as well as their church family with unconditional love and a servant’s heart. Jacob recites Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “’Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’ This epitomized my grandmother. We were recipients of their love.”


It’s clear that their grandparents had a deep and lasting impact on the brothers. “They were generous with their time and love. They were always eager to be involved with their grandchildren and to share their time with their church. My grandma especially loved volunteering in the church nursery,” Jacob added.


When Nathan was hired as the CEO of Ruggable, his new position provided him with the financial resources to grow his charitable impact. He and Jacob, a philanthropic advisor, worked to create a vision for his goals. He decided to honor their grandparents by helping people in Indiana improve their lives.


Although Robert spent most of his life outside of Rush County, “His stories always included Rushville,” Jacob said. He contacted us to learn about our community’s greatest needs. Alisa shared our focus on high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth through age five. She explained that a gift supporting this initiative would be a tremendous investment while possibly also inspiring others.


Jacob then asked Alisa if she was familiar with the work of Nobel Prize winning economist, James Heckman. Indeed, she was. RCCF’s board had used the Heckman Equation in researching and prioritizing the issue of early learning.


Everything began adding up. In honor of their grandparents’ love of family, and children in particular, Nathan and Jacob established the Robert and Gleela Baldwin Fund for Early Learning. The purpose of this fund is to provide support for educational scholarships for students accepted into and attending an accredited preschool serving Rush County residents. RCCF’s donors are known for providing scholarships to graduating high school seniors, college-age students and even adults. Now babies and preschoolers can benefit from their generosity as well.


With this unique gift, the Baldwin family’s love will continue to grow and multiply for generations to come. “We’re pleased to be a part of Rush County’s important work and show people that they are loved by others and are worthy of investment,” expressed Jacob.


The Baldwin Family has always counted on their love and now Rush County’s youngest residents can, too. You can add yours by donating to the Baldwin’s fund, online or sending your gift to: RCCF, 117 N. Main Street, Rushville, IN 46713.



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