Unity Foundation well on way to $50M goal

September 17, 2018

La PORTE — The Unity Foundation of La Porte County awarded $143,128 in grants to various nonprofit organizations throughout the county during an awards luncheon on Wednesday.

“The (individual amounts) don’t sound like a lot of money but they are to these nonprofits,” said Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation president.

“It’s money they didn’t have to raise; they didn’t have to do a bake sale or a fundraiser. And it can help them move their agendas forward. Our nonprofits do so much with so little. What they can do with $3,000 is amazing. I wish there was a way to get more money into their hands – and we will as we grow.”

Prior to recognizing the grant recipients, Jon Gilmore and Michele Magnuson, co-chairs of the Unity Foundation’s board of directors, provided attendees at the La Porte Civic Auditorium with an annual update.

Magnuson said $1.1 million in Unity funds were granted in 2017, more than $200,000 of that in college scholarships.

And she said the foundation’s annual Give Day resulted in an additional $360,000 raised – $125,000 of that in matched funds.

The Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City received the largest piece of that pie with $43,808.

“Unity Foundation is so valuable to our community and certainly to our organization,” said Brandi Lewis, executive director of the local Boys & Girls Club.

“Unity not only gives us access to community stakeholders who are looking for ways to financially help organizations like ours, but also helps us strategically look at how we can continue to grow into the future. They ask the important questions and make sure we have the right people in the room.”

Additionally, Magnuson noted, the Unity Foundation has spent its first full year in its new location – the STAR Center, an acronym for Shared Technology and Resources.

Other La Porte County nonprofits including the United Way, Drug Free Partnership and Healthy Communities are stationed there as well; and the ability to share things like utilities, office equipment supplies, meeting space and other resources has helped to save them all overhead costs and maximize use of donor dollars.

Gilmore said the Unity Foundation’s strategic goal by the year 2025 is to be 100 percent sustainable and to have amassed $50 million in assets.

He noted Unity Foundation assets currently sit at around $33 million, up significantly from $19 million in 2011.

Unity also wants to be known as an organization that makes an impact on critical community issues, Gilmore said.

Magnuson said the Unity Foundation will focus its efforts in the upcoming year on workforce development and education. While it will continue to give to causes outside those areas, the foundation will review grant applications through a lens of determining how specific initiatives might impact those two areas.

“We polled our board and our staff, and were tied between workforce development and education so it was a no-brainer,” Spartz said. “The goal is to reduce poverty. If you can increase incomes for families, then they’re more successful and happier, and have fewer problems. That’s the natural result of increasing their workforce skills and their education.”

For more information on starting, contributing to, or benefiting from a fund managed by the Unity Foundation, visit uflc.net.

2018 Unity grant awards

Animal Related

Independent Cat Society – Let’s Fix This, 3.0 – $1,700

Arts & Culture

Arts in the Park – Band Scheduling – $1,500

Arts in the Park – PreConcert Hour Scheduling – $1,000

La Porte County Symphony Orchestra – Children’s Education Concert – $3,000

Soul Steppers Drill Team – Art of Stepping for Health and Total Well Being – $2,000

Singing Company of La Porte County – Children’s Chorus Annual Holiday Concert – $1,000

Community Development

La Porte Area Lake Association – Lake Weed Treatment – $3,000

Leadership La Porte County – High School Leadership Program – $2,000

Washington Park Zoological Society – Safety Handrails – $1,200


Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City – Project Learn – $2,100

Citizens Concerned for the Homeless – Grace Learning Center High School Equivalency Program – $1,200

Dunebrook – Public Education – $1,950

Junior Achievement serving La Porte County – Wanatah’s Future Workforce – $1,250

Junior Achievement serving La Porte County – Westville’s Future Workforce – $1,250

La Porte County Public Library – Early Literacy – $1,500

La Salle Council Boy Scouts of America – Michigan City Marsh School Learning for Life – $1,000

New Prairie Education Foundation – JUMPSTART Tutoring Towards Success – $1,150

New Prairie United School Corporation – MAD-learn After School – $1,350

READ La Porte County – Supplementary Curriculum for Literacy Students – $1,250

Saint Vincent De Paul/Saint Joseph Church – Opening (La Porte) Door to Opportunity – $1,000

United Way of La Porte County – Kindergarten Countdown Camps (MC, La Porte) – $1,500

Worthy Women Recovery Home – Moral Reconation Therapy Jail Program – $1,900

Young Audiences of Indiana (Arts for Learning) – Dancing Through the Curriculum – $3,000

Youth Service Bureau of La Porte County – Kids on the Block – $2,200


A Hand Up – The Changing Room – $1,500

We Connect – We Connect ERN Learning - $1,500

La Porte Community School Corporation – Slicer Success Closet – $2,500

Environment, Parks & Rec

Michigan City Department of Parks and Recreation – Public Charcoal Receptacles – $1,250

Shirley Heinze Land Trust – La Porte County Education Hike and Workshop Series – $1,100

La Porte Park Foundation – Clarke Park Renovation – $1,600

Michigan City Area Schools – MCAS “Future Wolves” Elementary Sports Program – $1,200

Town of La Crosse – Hidden Pond Park Improvement Project – $1,500


Advancing Christ’s Kingdom Ministries – Michigan City Food Bank ThanksGIVING Turkeys – $1,000

Community Food Pantry of Galena, Hudson, Kankakee, & Wills Townships – Food Pantry – $3,000

La Porte Meals on Wheels – Restructuring Project – $1,300

La Porte County Meals on Wheels – Blizzard Box Bonanza 4 – $1,500

La Porte County Meals on Wheels – Meals on the MOVE – $750

Michigan City Holiday Meals – Holiday Meals – $1,200

New Disciple Love Fellowship Church – Manna From Heaven – $1,500

St. Francis Ministry Sacred Heart Church – Food Pantry – $2,300

Stepping Stone Shelter for Women – Shelter Food Assistance Program – $3,000

Pax Center – Jackson Street Community Garden Renovation – $1,850

Pax Center – Fresh Produce Grant – $2,000

Salvation Army – Weekend Backpack Food for Kids – $3,000

Trinity Episcopal Church – Food Pantry – $2,500


Frontline Foundations – Family Support Group Program – $2,000

Goodwill Industries of Michiana – Homeless Veteran Supply Supplement – $1,000

Healthy Communities of La Porte County – Suicide Prevention and Education: Question, Persuade, Refer – $1,500

La Porte Circuit Court – Juvenile Symposium – $1,100

LOK Wishing Tree Foundation – Carbon Monoxide Outreach – $1,500

Open Door Community Alliance – Medication Assistance Program – $3,000

Open Door Community Alliance – Adolescent Health Center – $2,500

Real Services – Aging In Place – $1,200

Southshore Skipping Stones – Newborn Baby Basics: Building Blocks of Knowledge, Know-how, and Support – $1,000

The Intrepid Phoenix – $1,050

Rotary Club of Michigan City – Eyeglasses for Children – $1,600


Catholic Charities of Diocese of Gary – Preventing Homelessness through Financial Aid – $1,500

Homeward Bound – Update Office Equipment – $1,000

Interfaith Community PADS – Women’s Nightly Shelter – $1,850

Interfaith Community PADS – Men’s Nightly Shelter – $1,150

La Porte County Habitat for Humanity – 2019 Home Build – $1,800

Worthy Recovery (Worthy Women Recovery Home) – Worthy Women Care Support – $1,550

Human Services & Disabled Service

Catholic Charities of Diocese of Gary – Lifeline Utility Assistance for Families and Individuals - $1,000

Citizens Concerned for the Homeless – Keys to Hope Community Resource Center: ABC’s to Self-Sufficiency – $2,000

Citizens Concerned for the Homeless – Sand Castle Shelter’s Better Parenting Through Coordinated Access – $1,450

Dunebrook – Child Advocacy Center – $1,700

Family Advocates – Child Abuse Prevention Month Community Training – $1,000

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry – “Meat” the Need 2018 – $1,500

MC Seniors – Bench Replacement – $1,000

Michigan City Area Schools – MCAS “Dress for Success” Fund – $2,000

Paladin – Barker Woods Facility Updates – $1,050

Paladin – Augmentative Communication Devices – $1,550

Stepping Stone Shelter for Women – Living Beyond Domestic Violence – $1,000

The Community Reserve – Beds for Children – $1,000

The Community Reserve – Furniture for those in need due to disasters, homelessness, foster care, etc. – $1,150

Salvation Army – Pathway of Hope – $1,000

Salvation Army of Michigan City – Emergency Services – $3,000

Reins of Life – Equine-Assisted Program for Veterans – $1,250

Social and Learning Institute for the Disadvantaged – Science & Nature Exploration – $1,000

Social and Learning Institute for the Disadvantaged – Reins of Life Program: Equine-Assisted Learning – $1,000

Youth Development

Boys & Girls Club of Michigan City – My Future – $1,500

Lubeznik Center for the Arts – Literacy through the Arts – $2,250

MCAS Hours for Ours – High School Mentoring – $1,978

New Prairie Middle School – Mentoring4Success – $1,500

Safe Harbor Robotics Program – Beyond Coding: The Engineering Design Process – $2,000

Greater Michigan City Chapter of the Drifters Incorporated – STEM GEMS Club – $1,000

Greater Michigan City Chapter of the Drifters Incorporated – Til Death Do you Tweet: Anti-bullying and Social Media Program – $1,300

Young Men’s Christian Association of La Porte – Michigan City Mentorship Program Enhancements – $2,000

Youth Service Bureau of La Porte County – School Buddies – $1,950

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