Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Inc.

1976- Present

People and families who live and/or work in Bartholomew County, benefit from a special heritage. Thanks to a distinguished history of visionary citizens, this community has been proactive in foreseeing needs and addressing them. Uncommon cooperation between public officials, citizens and private leadership has made this possible, and made it successful. No place is this more evident than in the establishment of the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Inc.

In 1976, the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County, Inc. was created as the final act of the Columbus/ Bartholomew Centennial Corporation. Bicentennial commissions across the nation were charged by President Ford to establish projects which would have lasting impact. The Columbus/Bartholomew Bicentennial Corporation’s board of directors agreed with this objective and established the Heritage Fund as a community foundation to encourage “continued community giving, support and leadership as a memorial to those of the past and the present who have done so much.”

The real work began in 1977 with nine board members and a generous $25,000 donation from Lowell Engelking. Over the next few years, with no track record and no list of accomplishments, this board had to convince the Bartholomew community their goal was attainable and had merit. Often community foundations are started because someone provides a lot of money, usually by a bequest. But Heritage Fund went directly to the community – hoping to get average citizens to see the benefits of helping their community for generations to come. Three years later, Heritage Fund had $3,100,000 in pledges from 86 donors. (This equals approximately $6,700,000 in 2008 dollars). Given a chance to participate, citizens were willing to share in a future for their community.

The legacy of those citizens lives on and continues to grow over 30 years later. What began as a simple desire to give to future generations some of the same advantages and opportunities they enjoyed, has become a mission to develop leadership, promote positive change and encourage giving throughout the community. Currently Heritage Fund has over $46 million in assets, manages 386 endowed and scholarship funds and has awarded over $10 million in grants and scholarships. The community foundation continues to grow, both in number of donors, funds and in addressing the ever-changing needs of the community. The results of those initial efforts, over 30 years ago, are more far-reaching than those founding citizens could imagine; they have built a memorial that honors the past and looks to the future of Bartholomew County and its citizens.

Below is a timeline of important events in the development of Heritage Fund:

1968-1974: Discussion among local civic leaders about the possibility
                   of establishing a community foundation; “talking paper”
                   developed to explore the idea.

1976:          Official resolution to change the name of Columbus/
                   Bartholomew County Bicentennial Corp. to Heritage Fund
                   of Bartholomew County, Inc. Resolution also shifted focus
                   from the bicentennial to projects benefiting the community.

Feb. 1977:  Lowell Engelking made $25,000 start-up gift for new
                   community foundation.

April, 1977: First permanent Heritage Fund Board of Directors elected
                    (9 members).

Dec. 1977:   Orphie Bridges – first Executive Director of Heritage Fund
                    (volunteer, part-time).

July, 1978:   IRS notification of 501(c)(3) status – can now operate as
                    a community foundation.

Nov. 1979:   Edward F. Sullivan hired – first full-time Executive Director.

July, 1981:   Endowment Development Campaign launched – goal of
                     $2.5 million by Dec. 1982.

May, 1982:   Expanded number of Heritage Fund board members from
                     nine to 13.

April, 1983:  $3.1 million pledged for the Endowment Development

Sept. 1983:   Heritage Fund moved from 425 Ninth Street to
                     646 Franklin Street (current Armory Apartments).

1984:            Heritage Fund began formal grant-making process.

1986:            Barbara W. Stewart first woman to serve as Heritage Fund
                     Board Chair.

1990:            Heritage Fund office moved to 430 Second Street
                     (Lincoln Square).

1992:            Heritage Fund received $1 million anonymous gift
                     in support of hospice services.

1997:            Chuck Watson hired as Executive Director.

1998:            First Lilly Scholarship Recipient – Melissa Becker, CEHS.

1998:            Heritage Fund received largest bequest in its history;
                     over $5 million from estate of Millie Reeves.

1999:            Sharon Risk Stark hired as President/CEO.

2000:            Heritage Fund received $5 million CAPE grant from
                     Lilly Endowment Inc. for Community Education
                     Coalition programs.

2000:            Heritage Fund’s Planned Giving Society was created with
                     35 founding members (later renamed The Bartholomew

2001:            Heritage Fund received $1 million bequest from
                     Delora L. Lauther for scholarship fund.

2002:            Heritage Fund moved to its current home – 538 Franklin
                     Street. Gift of three properties at Franklin Square from
                     Xenia Miller and Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation.

2007:            Heritage Fund and Community Education Coalition
                     received $38 million in grants from Lilly Endowment Inc.,
                     to fund educational programs associated with advanced
                     manufacturing, healthcare, and tourism/hospitality in ten
                     counties in Southeast Indiana (Economic Opportunities
                     Through Education by 2015 or EcO15).

2011:            Tracy Hamilton Souza hired as President/CEO.





Important Dates

Grant Deadlines/Important Dates - Community Fund

2013 Deadlines/Important Dates: December 15, 2013- Letters of Intent to the Community Investment Program 2014 Deadlines/Important Dates: January 2014 -...


Welcoming Community II - Upcoming Programs

In May Heritage Fund awarded grants to support thirteen projects designed to help increase the Welcoming Factor within our community. The special grants...


Latest News

2014 Spring Newsletter now available

Read it here!


Lilly Scholarship deadline extended

Because of the threat of inclement weather on Friday, the deadline for applications for the 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship has been extended. Applications...


2013 SUMMER Newsletter

2013 Summer Newsletter from the Heritage Fund is now available.


Catalytic Grant - People Trail Expansion

Heritage Fund is delighted to announce that it has provided $100,000 to the Columbus Park Foundation to support the People Trail Expansion Project. A grant...


Welcoming Community Grant Programs - Dates

In May Heritage Fund awarded grants to support thirteen projects designed to help increase the Welcoming Factor within our community. The special grants...


Lilly Endowment Awards Major Grant to Heritage Fund and CEC



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538 Franklin Street
P.O. Box 1547
Columbus, IN 47202-1547

Tel: 812-376-7772
Fax: 812-376-0051
Email: info@heritagefundbc.org


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