The Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment provided more than $30,000 in grants to local organizations for projects ranging from a new veterans memorial and classroom equipment to fire hoses and online news.
The endowment recently announced the 13 recipients for 2017. Adam Miller, the chairman of the endowment board, said there was an especially strong crop of applicants this year.
"I think that our applicants have improved constantly over the years," Miller said. "When we first started doing the grant application, it was a few thousand dollars and this past year we actually had $30,000... to grant out to the organizations. We have a lot of organizations who are constantly making applications year after year."
"The participation -- from an organization perspective -- has been constantly growing... The projects are also growing. Where the projects used to be a couple hundred bucks here and there, now we have been able to fund projects that are upwards of a $1,000 or $2,000 per project."
Miller said the goal of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Endowment Fund is to support other organizations in their efforts to build the community. That can be by improving public safety, or improvement projects of various sorts.
"Our main goal isn't really... to attract people into the town by putting on events, or things like that but it is more so to try to improve upon what we currently have here now," Miller said.
Money for the grants comes from the interest earned annually on the endowment's permanent fund.
"Any sort of gifts, or donations that people from around the community give to our board, they are held in perpetuity," Miller said. "Those amounts are never to be used for grants. We solely work off of the interest earned from our fund's balance as a whole."
Miller explained that the endowment board begins to publicize the upcoming grant cycle in February each year. The deadline to submit applications is early April. The endowment board reaches out to not-for-profit organizations that might be interested in applying, to get the word out.
The full endowment board makes its first formal approvals in May, and then those requests go to the Heritage Fund: The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County for approval. The announcement of the grant awardees is made at the Hope/Clifford/Hauser alumni banquet each May.
This year there were 16 applicants, with two being turned down because they didn't meet the endowment board's requirements and one being referred to Heritage Fund for further consideration by the county-wide organization because it was a larger grant amount than the local endowment could fund.
This year's largest grant amount of $4,000 went to Flat Rock-Hawcreek Schools for an interactive multi-touch projection display. The display is meant as a pilot project to test the device as part of a longer-term project to replace outdated school technology.
"It allows the school to understand if this is the path that they truly do want to go down, or if they have some issues with the board, maybe they don't do this," Miller said. "There are pluses and minuses on both sides. I think one good thing is that if for any reason the board was dysfunctional or it wasn't meeting their expectations, then we are saving them a lot of money that (would have gone) into buying a board for every class room and learning those missed expectations later down the road and a lot of money thrown away. We thought it was a good idea for them to have a testing area."
The Hope Summer Playground received $3,500 this year to replace sidewalk panels and backstops on four of the ball diamonds.
"A lot of deteriorating concrete blocks have been somewhat of a safety hazard over the years and growing up playing out there, I can attest to that," Miller said. "I have seen it through being out there and watching kids play over these last few summers. I think that this project will be really good for HSP because it will just improve upon the overall aesthetics of our system."
Flat Rock Township Trustee Lisa Moore also won approval from the endowment for $3,500 to construct a memorial headstone for veterans buried at Liberty Cemetery.
"It is important for us to respect our veterans and to truly give them the respect that they deserve." Miller said. "I think that was a great project."
HSJ Online, which operates as a division of Heritage of Hope, also received a grant for $2,545 to fund continuing operation of this community news website.