Three decades of giving • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Three decades of giving

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Crown Point Community Foundation directs resources to improve southern Lake County

Crown Point Community Foundation’s 30th anniversary celebration
The Crawpuppies entertain the crowd at the Crown Point Community Foundation’s 30th anniversary celebration event in September. (Photo provided by the Crown Point Community Foundation)

For the past 30 years, the foundation has issued grants for an assortment of initiatives to help the community. Representatives for the organization say there is no shortage of needs.

“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for residents within the organization’s service area to keep communities vibrant,” said Mary Nielsen, president of the foundation. It serves Crown Point, Winfield, Lowell and Cedar Lake and is in the square in downtown Crown Point at 115 S. Court St.

The foundation commemorated three decades of operation with a celebration in late September, which drew more than 500 people to Bulldog Park in Crown Point.

An event highlight was a charity drawing for six attendees to each award a $5,000 grant to their organization of choice. The recipients included St. Matthias Church for a community outreach program; Indiana Elite FC for soccer education; the St. Jude House for family violence prevention; the Community Help Network for their Buddy Bags Program, which feeds hungry students outside of school; the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Lake; and the Pets for Vets program.

“(The foundation) gave $30,000 for 30 years,” said Chrisanne Christ, the foundation’s board chair and senior partner in human relations at Centier Bank.

CPCF provides grants to more than 100 area nonprofits for projects or programs for community residents, including housing and shelter, food banks and pantries, and youth development in three cycles each year. Applications are due to the organization Feb. 1, June 1 and Sept. 1. A grant committee reviews applications, and those meeting funding guidelines are presented to the foundation’s 19-member board for approval.

The foundation has three functions: working with donors to establish permanently endowed funds; providing grants for community programs, projects and needs; and acting as a community leader and convener, bringing others together.

The Boys & Girls Club in Cedar Lake is among the many organizations assisted by the foundation. The Cedar Lake club received funds to update its kitchen with new refrigerators and purchase food.

The foundation also has funded placement of signage along trails to notify people of community locations, including downtown areas and other points of interest.

The foundation also awards scholarships to high school seniors and adults. The CPCF board votes on them, then matches grantees with the scholarships, Christ said.

“Adult learners have more responsibilities,” Christ said. “Life can be hard.”

The foundation wants money to go back to the organizations it supports rather than pay for administrative costs, including salaries. Christ said only 1% of the foundation’s money goes toward operating costs, and the rest is reinvested into the community.

Nielsen said the foundation has supported numerous initiatives that have benefited the community.

“I’m most proud of working with so many generous residents in the community that support our mission,” she said. “There are a lot of people who love living here and giving back to the community.”

According to the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, there are 94 nonprofit community foundations in Indiana, with one in every county of the state. They are all charity groups that are tax exempt and publicly supported.

The pandemic has led to changes in how people interact. The foundation has learned to adapt.

Nielsen said the past two years have been very different. The crisis has pushed many community groups to their limits just to ensure those with the greatest needs had enough to eat and access to care.

“CPCF has created a collaboration with other community members,” Nielsen said. The foundation has provided groups and members of the community with personal protective equipment and dealt with food insecurity.

“COVID changed the whole environment we’re living in and funding,” Nielsen said. “CPCF has helped to support critical needs related to COVID.”

She encourages residents to get involved and make the community a better place for everyone.

“We’re all in it together,” Nielsen said. “We want to see good things happen where we live.”

Click here to read more from the December-January 2022 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


  • Jessica Tobacman

    Jessica Tobacman has been a professional writer for almost 15 years. She covered features for the Chicago Tribune’s “Health & Family” section as a weekly freelancer. She also has written for the Southtown Star, Suburban Life Publications, Classical Singer Magazine, Jewish Chicago,, "In These Times" magazine and the Daily Herald. She is a graduate of Brandeis University with honors and has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College. She is also the cantor at Joliet Jewish Congregation. Jessica lives in Naperville with her husband and son.


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