-by Tom Kilian
president of Hamilton County Community Foundation
As fall gives way to winter, I am reminded of the beauty in change. The need to continually evolve and give way to new is a gift from Mother Nature. In Hamilton County we are able to experience the changes that occur during all of the four seasons.
Is there a lesson here? Absolutely, unequivocally yes! Mother Nature is not static, it’s a dynamic force, and so must we be as individuals, and organizations. We must constantly evolve, and not look to solely survive, but thrive. There is beauty in change.
As Hamilton County Community Foundation enters into its 28th year of serving our communities, it’s a time to reflect and understand our course of evolution, and dream about the next 28. Earlier this year, I wrote about the need to re-focus our mission, vision and values through a strategic plan that meets the specific needs of Hamilton County. Since then, Hamilton County Community Foundation’s staff, board of directors and a special task force spent over a year in conversation with the community and reviewed countywide research to identify the county’s opportunities and challenges to ultimately develop a framework for our new direction.
As a first order of business, and a really exciting announcement from the committee and board, we renamed the organization and adopted a new mission. At the 10th annual Celebration of Philanthropy earlier this month, we announced that we are the Hamilton County Community Foundation. Simple yet effective in conveying who we are and the community we serve.
We must constantly evolve, and not look to solely survive, but thrive. There is beauty in change.
And we adopted a regional mission, shared with our affiliates, Central Indiana Community Foundation and The Indianapolis Foundation: To mobilize people, ideas and investment to make this a community where every individual has equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—no matter their place, race or identity.
Our new name will allow us to focus our new mission, and all the great work happening throughout the county. We will continue to work with donors to achieve their philanthropic goals and award competitive grants to effective not-for-profit organizations doing good work in Hamilton County. But we feel called, as the community foundation for the county, to better understand and work to address the specific needs of our community.
Our vision is to build a community where opportunity meets growth for everyone, and philanthropic efforts support not-for-profit organizations doing vital work. Our conversations with civic leaders, educators, residents and others over the past year have identified specific needs in Hamilton County that are not being met. Hamilton County Community Foundation has selected three key areas to focus with leadership, support and community resources in areas where we see gaps in services. These areas include mental health, family and youth empowerment and inclusive economic growth.
Mental health. We will convene, partner and assist in funding those who are doing the work of educating, training and providing direct services around mental health including not-for-profit organizations, school corporations, first responders and municipalities.
Family and Youth Empowerment: We want to ensure our families, including youth and seniors, have equitable opportunities to access healthy food, to develop fundamental life skills and to be educated in environments that foster social and emotional learning.
Inclusive Economic Growth: As our county grows, it is imperative to support the creation of affordable housing, pathways to long-term employment and countywide connectivity for everyone, most importantly for those facing the biggest barriers.
I’m personally excited to focus our community foundation’s efforts in these three areas because they are areas that we are passionate about and can positively effect change. As you can see, there’s a lot to discuss and a lot to do. In the next few months, we will identify the more specific role Hamilton County Community Foundation will take in addressing these needs, and we look forward to continuing conversations with each of you.
Please contact anyone at Hamilton County Community Foundation if you’d like to talk about how you might partner with our foundation or come alongside our work. More information is also available at our website, HamiltonCountyCommunityFoundation.org.