AUBURN — The Community Foundation of DeKalb County has received a Community Leadership Grant of $100,000 as part of the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative.

With the grant, the community foundation has partnered with DeKalb Chamber Partnership to offer DeKalb LEADS, an adult leadership development program. The foundation also will be adding a new full-time position — director of community engagement and leadership — to serve the entire county in a convening role.

It is one of 84 foundations in Indiana receiving grants through this round of GIFT VII grant-making.

Lilly Endowment created GIFT in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify local needs and challenges. It launched GIFT VII in 2018 and made available a total of $125 million to help foundations strengthen their leadership capacities in the towns, cities, and counties they serve. Lilly Endowment expects to make additional GIFT VII grants in the coming months.

“During the planning phase of exploring data and various input forums with local community stakeholders, the foundation recognized the most compelling needs of DeKalb County were adult leadership development and county-wide convening,” said Tanya Young, community foundation executive director.

“By addressing both current needs, Community Foundation DeKalb County will continue building on the mission of bringing people together to collaborate on a common purpose, trust and relationship,” she added.

As part of GIFT VII, the community foundation was awarded a planning grant of $50,000 in 2019 to convene local stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and assess opportunities and challenges in DeKalb County. In March 2020, the foundation was invited to apply for a GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant to implement strategies and activities identified during the planning period.

DeKalb LEADS, which stands for lead, engage, activate, develop and serve, will be available to adult professionals throughout DeKalb County who are interested in learning more about the community through service. This eight-month program will be offered on an annual basis with classes starting each fall. The first pilot class began in August, and applications for the class of 2022 will be accepted next spring.

Emerging leaders of the community and those interested in moving their careers to the next level would find this program personally and professionally invaluable, the foundation said.

In addition to DeKalb LEADS, a director of community engagement and leadership will join the foundation staff at the start of 2021 to fill the need for a catalyst, convener, and bridge-maker. This individual will continue to identify and address the most compelling needs across the entire county.

“Community Foundation DeKalb County is positioned to assume and continue this work for DeKalb County successfully,” said Becky Hefty, president of the foundation’s board of directors. “The foundation recognizes and values the endowment’s forward-thinking GIFT program for its continued generosity to Indiana’s community foundations.”

The Community Foundation of DeKalb County promotes community philanthropy by offering local citizens the opportunity to create charitable legacies that will sustain and improve life in DeKalb County.

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