25 Years of Fostering Philanthropic Aspirations: James J & Phyllis Marie Hallar Family Endowment
Jim and Phyllis (Cunningham) Hallar were married on June 24, 1951, and spent a lifetime together enjoying three children and a well-respected commitment to agriculture. They owned farms in three counties over the years, farming thousands of acres.
Their commitment to White County spans far beyond their land, though. Phyllis and Jim were both 10-year 4-H members. As an adult, Phyllis volunteered at Ag Day with White County 4-H and helped with serving meals. She was a member of Psi Iota Zi philanthropic sorority, very active in White County Farm Bureau, was a Republican Committee Member and served as Precinct Election Polls Captain for Union Township for over 30 years. She was a passionate fundraising volunteer for the American Heart Association and, as a cancer survivor, volunteered for the American Cancer Society and participated in ACS’ Relay for Life events. Phyllis passed away May 8, 2017.
Jim is a very proud graduate of Purdue University and can recall the great impact a scholarship had early on in his educational career. “I was able to attend Purdue and get an education. Phylis had four sisters and four brothers, so it was out of the question. That’s why we give now, to give other people that opportunity.”
In memory of Phyllis, Jim worked with Purdue University to establish the Phyllis Marie Hallar & James J Hallar Opportunity Scholarship in Agriculture to support students beginning their studies at other institutions with the intention of transferring to Purdue’s College of Agriculture. The program is called Pathway to Purdue, making Purdue more accessible than ever. This past year, Phyllis and Jim’s scholarship impacted 22 students.
In 2019, Jim partnered with the Community Foundation of White County to establish the James J & Phyllis Marie Hallar Family Endowment. Thanks to a matching opportunity from Lilly Endowment, Inc’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow VII program, Jim’s initial contribution to establish the fund was tripled. “The community has been good to me, and this is a good opportunity to repay some of that.”
An unrestricted fund, The James J & Phyllis Marie Hallar Family Endowment allows the Community Foundation to respond to ever-changing needs in the community. CFWC regularly identifies opportunities as they emerge in White County and utilizes the distribution from unrestricted funds to address those needs in a variety of ways.
For instance, $50,215 of unrestricted dollars have been awarded in 2023 during two Community Cares Grant cycles, addressing a diverse range of needs: providing food for families, supporting STEM education in classrooms, bringing new resources into the community for folks in recovery, strengthening the efforts around homelessness, plus so much more.
In addition to our Community Cares Grant cycles, this year we are launching for the first time ever Mental Wellness Grants. After years of data collecting under Lilly Endowment, Inc’s Leadership Planning Grant, CFWC has made the commitment to spend the next five years focusing on the mental wellness of our community. Our first step on this mission is launching the Mental Wellness Grants, also funded through unrestricted dollars. This year, up to $50,000 will be available to support projects that: expand access to mental health services; reduce the stigma around mental health; build protective factors, particularly in youth; provide evidence-based programs that impact mental wellness; provide education or training for parents and youth workers.
During my recent visit with Mr. Hallar, he shared excitement about the potential impact these initiatives will have on our youth. Recalling his own journey, Jim knows that building a culture of giving alongside a steadfast commitment to education can lead individuals to success. And as the Community Foundation of White County just launched its second cohort of the Youth Philanthropy Council, I asked Jim what advice he would give to a young person hoping to make a difference in the world around them.
Jim shared, “Allow students to explore the things that are important to them. Let them learn about what they care about and allow them to truly be themselves. Whether it is wanting to be a doctor, a farmer, a teacher---give them the tools to learn and grow. Then they’ll grow up to do something they love. That’s the greatest gift we gave our children.”
Jim & Phyllis Hallar’s legacy of agriculture, community, and giving will continue to live on through the James J And Phyllis Marie Hallar Family Endowment. Because it is a permanently invested fund, disbursements from the fund will continue to grow and impact White County…forever.