The Foundations of East Chicago Partners with Ivy Tech
Education is a high priority for the Foundations of East Chicago. The Foundations provided Ivy Tech with much-needed financial support, in addition to committing to partnerships that will have a lasting impact on students and the regional economy.
The Foundations, which are funded by the AMERISTAR East Chicago Casino and Hotel, gave nearly $400,000 toward specialized programs at the Ivy Tech Community College De La Garza campus from 2002 to 2009. Then, in 2012, the Foundations awarded Ivy Tech a $2 million grant, the largest gift ever given to the Ivy Tech Northwest Region and the fourth largest given to any Ivy Tech campus in the state.
The $2 million gift from the Foundations will be used to repurpose and renovate the De La Garza campus in East Chicago. The first classes were held on the campus in 1994 with only 376 students. Now, more than 2,000 attend classes on campus, and more space and technology upgrades are needed to accommodate future growth.
The Foundations have also taken a leadership role in encouraging other non-profits in the area, particularly its grantees, to connect with Ivy Tech and work together to benefit the region. One example is Putting East Chicago Back to Work, an effort led by the Holistic Community Coalition designed to equip local residents with the skills they need to be competitive in a recessed labor market. The initiative has brought together a diverse group of organizations, including Ivy Tech, Lake County Community Corrections, Indiana Plan, the North Township Trustee, Disposal Alternative Organization and Mission of Jesus Christ. The effort has paid off, with more than 75 East Chicago residents becoming employed following their participation in the program.
As the convener of the program, the Foundations are pleased with its results, so much that they promoted the effort with a billboard campaign that helps tell the story of how it benefits the community.
"We wanted to get the right information to the community so they could know what we're supporting," says Russell Taylor, Executive Director of the Foundations.
This also helps explain why the Foundations have been so generous in their support of Ivy Tech. The College certainly helps the community by providing an affordable higher education option, but Ivy Tech is also the type of quality organization with whom the Foundations want to be associated.
"Ivy Tech serves the community in a variety of ways," Taylor says. "We couldn't have a quality community without them."