Youth Philanthropy

H.A.N.D.S. Foundation

H.A.N.D.S. (Helping Achieve new Direction through Students) is a 18-member student group (six students from each of the three county school systems), grades 8-12 that meets monthly to discuss community needs, review grant requests and allocate funding to projects with an educational focus. The youth group is the result of a collaborative effort between the Dekko Foundation, the Community Foundation and three public school systems in Whitley County.

Members are selected by their school administrators, and are chosen for their leadership capabilities and sound academic record. Once selected as 7th graders, students stay in the program for five years.

In addition to making grants, the group created Charitable Champions, a program where 8th graders learn about nonprofits and then get a chance to grant real dollars to those same nonprofits

Grant requests to the H.A.N.D.S. Foundation are accepted from September through April each year.

Youth philanthropy is alive and well In Whitley County! Members of the H.A.N.D.S. Foundation meet monthly to review funding requests from local educators and hone their leadership skills.

2023 - 2024 H.A.N.D.S. Members


  • Sariah Arnold
  • Sam Bechtold
  • Annie Lortie
  • Lucas Rumschlag
  • Maylan Wagner
  • Kimberly Woodward

Rochelle Sears – HANDS Liasion


  • Kelsee Coil
  • Ethan Hess
  • Jada Peer
  • Evan Powell
  • Eva Refeld
  • Maura Wright
Sondra Cook – HANDS Liasion


  • Sophie Augustus
  • Marissa Rodgers
  • Kohen Schipper
  • Micah Slabach
  • Anna Sickafoose
Shelby Whiteleather – HANDS Liasion

Sample H.A.N.D.S. Grants

$900.00 – Columbia City High School: Digital SLR Camera for use in all photography, graphic design, and web design classes

$768.00 – The Center for Whitley County Youth: Audio system updates and computer needs

$800.00 – Smith-Green Community School Corp.: Supplies to implement archery program for K-12

$474.00 – Whitko School Corporation: Update safety equipment in metals classroom

$500.00 – Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Scholarship Endowment: Provides free swim lessons to preschool aged children

Thank you, Hands!

H.A.N.D.S. Expands Charitable Champions Emerge

“We want the students to learn how to identify what needs exist in their community and develop real-life problem solving skills. Here’s a need or a problem, what can you do?”
Amy Shearer - 8th grade Teacher at Indian Springs Middle School

Charitable Champions Videos

Charitable Champions Workbook

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