The Highland Community Foundation prepares for the end of the year and beyond, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the Foundation’s creation. HCF was founded on the mission of serving “…as a catalyst to connect people who care with causes that improve the quality of community life by advancing cultural, educational, economic and social opportunities, while preserving community heritage and helping donors create a permanent legacy in Highland.”
In 2010, volunteers were asked to serve on an exploratory committee to research and potentially organize a community foundation to enable funding for projects and programs the Town could no longer afford. The Committee met over a term of nine months. The Committee consisted of representatives of the Highland Town Council, the Council’s Advisory Boards and Commissions, service organizations and interested community-minded volunteers.
At a meeting held February 25, 2011, the foundation was organized by the adoption of bylaws, initial board members were identified, officers were elected and agreements with the Legacy Foundation were approved for the professional management, investment, accounting and reporting of our funds. The initial Board of Directors were Jim Dal Santo, Terry Krooswyk, Richard Krooswyk, Bill Vargo, Keith Bruxvoort, Lance Ryskamp, Pat Popa, Richard Underkofler, Adam Gawlikowski and Cecile Petro.
Since that time, HCF has worked to fulfill its mission of improving the quality of life in Highland, through many successful past and ongoing projects. These include:
- Funding the 45th Street Beautification Project and Ashley Ritz Memorial Sculpture on the southeast corner of 45th Street and 5th
- Partnering to assist, through grants, to support and improve the Highland Rookery.
- Partnering with the Highland Redevelopment Commission to obtain a grant, which was used as an artist stipend for the first Downtown Highland mural on Jewett Street.
- HCF was a partner in the 2017 Highland Tree Inventory to identify diseased trees and provide data on the town’s existing tree canopy. This data was used to develop Highland’s Urban Forest Plan.
- Partnered with NIPSCO and the Arbor Day Foundation to provide 200 free trees for Highland residents.
- Provided thousands of dollars of direct funding for art-related projects, through HCF’s “Highland Has Art” grant program.
- HCF was one of the financial donors and sponsors of the Town of Highland’s Community Garden.
- Providing ongoing COVID-related donations to local and regional agencies, such as the St. James Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, and TradeWinds Services.
- Currently establishing a Highland Arts Council, through HCF’s Arts Subcommittee.
Looking ahead over the next several months, HCF has approved an additional donation to the St. James Food Pantry, opening up a new “Highland Has Art” grant cycle, reviving a Poet Laureate program and other activities through the Highland Arts Council subcommittee, and launching a new fundraising campaign.
Current Board members include: Lance Ryskamp (President), Judy Vaughn (Vice President), Jim Dal Santo (Treasurer), Dawn Diamantopoulos (Secretary), Cheryl Nicksic, Robert Plantz, Julie Larson, Mary Wells, and Doug Van Ramshorst.