Jordan Hamilton paid his way through Indiana University Bloomington with the help of the Laidig Community Service Scholarship, an award given through the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County.
For 20 years, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County has supported the community through endowment.
Unlike individuals who give donations directly to an organization or charity, the foundation receives monetary gifts from donors to invest and provide grants to improve the community.
"We have the opportunity to look at different challenges and figure out solutions," said Rose Meissner, president of the foundation. "We bring people with different resources together."
The foundation has given out nearly $4 million to $5 million in grants and scholarships per year and is the second largest foundation in Indiana. Some of the organization's initiatives deal with neighborhood revitalization, community leadership, child care and education.
"The list that was 20 years ago is pretty much the same list it is now," Meissner said at this year's 20th anniversary celebration. "These are not the type of things that you achieve and just move on from," she said.
St. Joseph County Community Foundation continues to aid many community scholarship recipients if they keep meeting award requirements
Hamilton's service scholarship includes a yearly $7,500 award and summer internship. As a college senior and four-time scholarship recipient, Hamilton said the internships helped him in deciding his future career plans in health care.
"It allowed me to explore different aspects," he said. This summer, Hamilton is working with the Youth Service Bureau, a nonprofit organization that helps provide safe alternatives for teenagers rather than being on the streets.
One of the foundation's latest initiatives is the St. Joseph County Regional Nursing Home Collaborative, which focuses on improving senior housing for the elderly.
"Nursing homes are needed and are necessary," said Christopher Nanni, vice president of programs for the foundation. "It is the last stage of people's lives and we want to make sure the quality improves."
A fund has been created to provide training and mentoring for employees in St. Joseph County's 18 nursing homes and for senior housing issues.
Jack Mueller, administrator at Holy Cross Village at Note Dame, said he believes the for-profit and not-for-profit nursing homes in the area would not have gotten together without the help of the foundation.
"We came together with the understanding that we are competitors and are trying to do things that will benefit the residents," Mueller said. "I'd congratulate the foundation for seeing a need there and trying to bring about change. The training inspired us to think of ways that we could do things better."
Since 2005, the foundation has granted $3 million to senior-related issues, according to Nanni.
"I'm excited every day on how we can do more," Meissner said.
To further another goal of the foundation, promotion of the local arts, the group recently began a partnership with The Tribune to produce iNthebend.com, an arts and entertainment weekly and Web presentation.