Foellinger Foundation has announced a nearly half-million dollar grant to provide three-years support to the Let’s Grow! early childhood program. Associated Churches’ Let’s Grow! program focuses on churches and childcare centers in urban Fort Wayne neighborhoods, providing support for developmental learning projects, staff training and mentoring workshops.

Foellinger Foundation strategically supports effective organizations. And this program has demonstrated great success by providing:

•    Development and funding of age-appropriate projects serving over 1,300 children
•    Professional development of over 50 directors and staff
•    Project administrations, including coaching and mentoring of providers
•    Workshops involving parents and families

“Communities need to invest in training and education in the childcare field in order to provide high-quality and developmentally focused early learning environments to all children,” said Cheryl Taylor, Foellinger Foundation President. Many of the Let’s Grow! childcare centers have attained the Indiana Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System ­– Paths to QUALITY – Level 1 status.

With the most recent grant, Foellinger Foundation has invested nearly $1.25 million in Let’s Grow! since 2011. This program allows children to develop in safe, healthy and nurturing environments.

Learn more about Associated Churches and Let’s Grow! at

Special Grant Opportunity Announcement

Foellinger Foundation has announced a special grant opportunity in 2018 for any Allen County-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides direct charitable services to apply for limited asset improvement project funds. This special grant opportunity is for the improvement or replacement of current assets or for the purchase of new assets. Foellinger Foundation has dedicated $1 million for this grant opportunity.   

Foellinger Foundation was founded on driving principles of integrity, accountability, responsibility and results. Our grantmaking strategy is built around selecting and strengthening effective organizations led by adaptive leaders. Our work is rooted in the belief that being an effective foundation requires us to award grants in a manner that makes a tangible difference to the grant recipient, while remaining faithful to the intent of our donors.  More specifically, we are interested in supporting those organizations that are mission-driven, well-governed and results-oriented.

The key to this special grant opportunity is effectiveness. Organizations applying for these funds must demonstrate how the project for which funds are sought will make the organization more effective.

To be eligible to apply for a limited asset improvement and replacement grant, in addition to being an Allen County 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, an organization must be five years old and provide direct charitable services. Any nonprofit organization that meets these eligibility requirements may apply for up to $50,000.

Congratulations to the first class of Executive Leaders!

We were pleased to graduate the first Executive Leader Program class on November 14 as part of the Helene Foellinger Leadership Development Initiative. The Executive Leaders earned their CEU's through this 18-month program that focuses on adaptive leadership skills and was designed for executive directors of nonprofits. Congratulations to all of these wonderful leaders! "If you're not scared, you picked too small of a mountain."

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Reflecting on the Foundation-invited Initiative

We reflect on the Foundation-invited Initiative (FII), and the significant results it has created over the last decade. What we’ve learned, and what’s next. Since 2007, Foellinger Foundation supported FII with nearly $33 million. These grants include $1.7 million for capacity support—funds provided specifically to help each organization reach a stronger position.

Our evaluation and our experience tells us that invited organizations are indeed stronger for their involvement in FII. And, the Foundation is stronger for all that we have learned.

This is not our first initiative. FII was shaped by two previous initiatives, each $5 million, in the early 2000s. These efforts were crucial in our development of the most recent Foundation-invited Initiative.

As always, the Foundation has continually evaluated the impact of its work. For FII, we engaged Formative Evaluation Research Associates to complete three separate evaluations that were conducted during the course of the Initiative. The first evaluation indicated the intentional grantmaking strategy of FII had, indeed, been transformational for the organizations. The second evaluation found that FII was successful in strengthening governance and supporting organizational sustainability. The model was helping organizations think more strategically about how to fulfill their missions, and better serve clients/customers/consumers. The third evaluation, completed in January 2016, focused on FII’s impact in four key areas:  governance, leadership, program impact, and financial sustainability.

The evaluation showed that FII had helped position the organizations to engage in and adopt adaptive practices and provided feedback that helped the Foundation identify areas to improve, as well. Specifically, governance and leadership training for Allen County nonprofits were identified as needs.

Accordingly, the Foundation announced, funded and implemented the Helene Foellinger Leadership Development Initiative, which includes the Foellinger Leadership Lab and Barbara Burt Innovative Leader Fund, and inspires nonprofit executive leaders, rising leaders, and board members in Allen County to "lead like no other." 

By the measures agreed upon by our Board of Directors, FII has been successful. Therefore, we announce that we are concluding the Foundation-invited Initiative. 

The Foundation and initiative organizations have all had very long-term relationships; indeed,  fruitful relationships were critical to the invitation to participate in the first place. Our relationships extend beyond any one particular funding strategy. While these relationships will undergo a change in status, they are continuing.

In support of ongoing requests from FII grantees, the Foundation also announced that each organization will receive a three-year, $20,000 capacity grant for staff development. Specific focuses for staff development remain on governance, leadership, program impact, and financial sustainability.

All Foellinger Foundation initiatives and special opportunities are directly connected to the values of our donors:

  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Results