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  • Leslie Goss

Building Community: Harnessing the Power of Local Wealth

A few years ago, I attended the Symposium on Rural Philanthropy: Harnessing the Power of Local Wealth sponsored by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Farm Bureau, and Indiana State University. It was a workshop that still surfaces as one of the most impactful I’ve attended during my time with the Community Foundation.

Charles Fluharty, founder, president and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute – the only national policy institute in the US solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies, and a frequent contributor to conversations in Congress as well as local communities – challenged us to “advance the power of the particular” -- to realize the power and potential offered by philanthropy at a truly local level.

“People move where they want to live and create a job there, but most of that is urban.

Rural communities, often overlooked, are critically important to this country. They offer vast

resources – knowledge, financial assets, and personal commitment to community. Local

philanthropy fills the void of distrust of larger organizations – government, large impersonal

national organizations, whatever. What’s at stake? Everything!

“The word community comes from the Latin communitas, which means ‘gifts together’ –

a perfect description of our potential.” He went on to describe and applaud the powerful impact community foundations are making across the country, harnessing the power of local wealth and using it to positively impact local quality of life, particularly in rural America.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman cited two continuing challenges revealed in Indiana’s

Transfer of Wealth study done in 2006 and updated in 2010: youth retention and a reduction in philanthropic giving. “It has never been more important to build quality of place. As Chuck

said, people move where they want to live, and Indiana offers some truly outstanding

communities. We are so fortunate that Hoosiers are grounded in providing ‘quality of place’ that is so important to Indiana’s well-being and growth.

“We have tremendous potential, reflected in Indiana’s HomeTown Competitiveness

program. [White County was a pilot community of the HTC initiative.] Built on pillars of

leadership, youth engagement and retention, asset and wealth retention, and entrepreneurship, we have now incorporated the rural family pillar into the structure. Our cities are important, but our rural communities are special places, too, and deserve our commitment. Your presence here today shows that you think so, too.”

White County is one of Indiana’s outstanding rural communities, and we have

tremendous potential. Your Community Foundation of White County is honored to partner with individuals and organizations who believe that, too. Gifts to the Foundation are gifts that build quality of life – quality of place -- in White County, now and in the future.

Before COVID-19 hit, CFWC had planned a series of professionally facilitated

Community Conversations to hear voices from around the county discuss real life in our

community. Though postponed, those plans remain on our agenda. At some point in the future, you’ll be hearing more…stay tuned!

For more information about your Community Foundation, contact Director Leslie Goss

at 574-583-6911.

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