A new year means a new chance to help communities and nonprofit organizations within Hoosier Energy territory.


The means to do that comes from Hoosier Energy’s aptly titled Community Impact Fund. Or at least that’s the name it’s gone by for the past two years, previously known as the Corporate Contributions Account.


“Each year we receive dozens of requests from local non-profits and statewide non-profits and vet those against a strategy we have developed,” said Manager of Government and Community Relations Matt Randall, who oversees the fund with the help of a four-person team.


With approximately $80,000 per year available in the Community Impact Fund, there are always plenty of viable candidates in various categories. Those include community development, disaster relief, education and youth programs, employee engagement, local nonprofit support and member-related initiatives such as Project Indiana through Indiana Electric Cooperatives.


Just last year was a good example of the multiple ways the fund was able to meet needs both expected and unexpected.


Damage to Hoosier Energy lines from the storm and tornado in Sullivan County on March 31, 2023.

Early in the year, tornados ripped through multiple communities in Hoosier Energy member cooperative territory. In response, the Community Impact Fund contributed to the Wabash Valley Foundation, which headed up the Help Sullivan Recover Fund. In addition, a grant application to the CoBank Sharing Success program produced another $10,000 to help the recovery process in Sullivan County. The storms also brought a renewed focus to tornado sirens in Owen County, so assistance went to the Owen County Sirens Fund.


These pressing needs were on top of new opportunities to aid a disability-friendly playground upgrade at Shawswick Elementary School in Bedford and support a Mooresville Elementary School STEM club.


New opportunities are always welcomed if they involve a nonprofit, education or industry-related youth programs (non-sports).


But there are still a number of constants that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.


“In particular, we want to invest in the areas where our employees live, work and serve in their communities,” Randall said. “Traditionally we’ve also invested heavily in the communities where we’ve had generation assets. In Merom and Sullivan County, we maintain strong relationships with local leaders and have supported community and school projects through the years.


“We also encourage employee engagement in local nonprofits and are open to reviewing requests for support when they match our priorities.”


Examples include the Friends of McCormick Creek State Park 5k, the Women Build event with Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County and the IBEW Local 1393 Fundraiser for the Fairbanks Burn Center.


In years when disaster relief doesn’t jump to the forefront, there are other worthy causes to support such as the American Red Cross Home Fires program in 2022.


The goal is to maintain flexibility for the future.


“There isn’t a preset amount for the things we support, but we do reserve a healthy majority of our budget for ongoing relationships while still evaluating immediate opportunities. We also look to maximize our partnership with CoBank through their annual Sharing Success program.”