Better Together: Identifying Community Needs in Fayette County

Better Together: Identifying Community Needs in Fayette County Identifying Community Needs in Fayette County: How the Foundation Guides Our Community’s Growth

As the Executive Director of the Fayette Community Foundation, I have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the incredible efforts made to improve our community. Our mission is to inspire a spirit of philanthropy and leadership to enhance the quality of life in Fayette County. A crucial part of this mission involves identifying the most pressing needs in our community. But how do we, as a foundation, pinpoint these needs accurately? Let me take you through our comprehensive approach so you can understand how we help our generous donors find a way to serve Fayette County.

Participation in Coalitions

One of our primary methods for understanding community needs is through active participation in local coalitions. We are engaged in several, including the Workforce Development Coalition and the Early Learning Coalition. These coalitions are invaluable as they bring together various stakeholders who share insights and data about the community’s needs.

For example, our involvement in the Workforce Development Coalition has highlighted the necessity for more robust job training programs and resources for career advancement. Similarly, through the Early Learning Coalition, we’ve identified critical gaps in childcare services and early childhood education.

Engagement with Local Nonprofits

Our connection with local nonprofits is another vital source of information. Through our grant cycles and Nonprofit Meet-Ups, we stay informed about the work these organizations are doing, their challenges, and the needs they have identified within the community.

These interactions allow us to learn directly from those on the front lines of service. Whether it’s addressing food insecurity, mental health support, or educational programs, our local nonprofits provide us with a grassroots perspective on the community’s needs.

Comprehensive Planning

Planning is at the heart of our strategy to address community needs. In 2022, we supported the development of the City of Connersville’s Comprehensive Plan, and we have a history of contributing to such initiatives, including Fayette County’s Comprehensive Plan in 2011. Currently, we are involved in the City of Connersville’s Parks Department Strategic Plan, funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s GIFT VIII Initiative.

During these planning processes, we actively engage with community members through public and stakeholder meetings. This direct engagement allows us to gather a wide range of perspectives and concerns, ensuring that our plans reflect the community’s true needs and aspirations.

Next Steps: Responding to Identified Needs

Once we have identified the community’s needs, the next step is addressing them through our grantmaking process. When we receive grant requests that align with our guidelines and address pressing issues such as childcare, workforce development, or community health and wellness, we consider funding them. However, these grants must pass the rigorous scrutiny of our grant committee and Board of Directors which ensures impartiality and need demonstrated by evidence, like data.

We also make proactive grants for high-need projects when necessary (and funding is available). Collaboration with city and county leaders, as well as other community organizations, is essential in supporting these initiatives. Even if a project does not qualify for funding directly, we remain involved by attending meetings and advocating for support through other initiatives like READI and GIFT VIII.

Learning from Past Initiatives

Reflecting on past initiatives provides valuable lessons and highlights the Foundation’s adaptability. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we established a relief fund and granted $3,684.99 to five organizations while also distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) within the community. In 2020, we created the Early Learning Coalition and funded a study focusing on maternal care. Since then, we’ve granted $6,175 to support this coalition and related studies, meeting monthly with childcare providers and service organizations to discuss ongoing needs.

This year, we partnered with surrounding counties for a regional childcare study as part of the GIFT VIII planning grant opportunity, underscoring our commitment to continuous learning and regional collaboration.

Committed to Continuous Improvement

While we are proud of our efforts, we recognize that there is always more to be done. We are committed to continually improving our methods for identifying and addressing community needs. By staying engaged, listening actively, and responding thoughtfully, we aim to ensure that the Fayette Community Foundation remains a steadfast steward of our community’s hopes and dreams.

Together, with your support and engagement, we can build a stronger, more vibrant Fayette County. Whether through coalition participation, nonprofit engagement, comprehensive planning, or proactive grantmaking, we strive to enhance the quality of life for all residents. 

Get Involved

We encourage everyone in the community to get involved and be part of this process. Attend our public meetings, participate in local initiatives, and share your insights. Together, we can make a lasting impact and ensure a brighter future for Fayette County.

By shedding light on how we identify and address community needs, we hope to inspire more residents to join us in this vital work. Your involvement and support are crucial as we strive to make Fayette County an even better place to live, work, and thrive. 

-Abigail Roszell, Executive Director, Fayette Community Foundation