Little Swiss Fund Set to Provide Long-term Financial Boost to Nonprofits in Highland County


There is big news for nonprofit organizations in Highland County.  The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County has received a gift from an anonymous donor that exceeds $10 million.  Director of Program Services, Ann Siciliano, tells us more about the Little Swiss Fund.

She begins, “We were very excited to be the beneficiary of a very generous gift from an individual who loves Highland County.  This gift was solely for grants for the Highland County nonprofit community, and it is over a $10 million gift, which we will use to establish an endowed fund, which just means that these funds will be invested and will go on in perpetuity to give out an annual distribution every year in the fall.  The annual distribution is based on a calculation, and that is, when we hold an endowment, each year, the distribution is of 4% of the five-year average balance of the fund, so this year, the distribution, that 4%, will be approximately $53,000.  As the fund moves through the five-year process, by the end of five years, that annual distribution will exceed $400,000.”

501(c) (3) tax-exempt organizations can apply.  Nonprofits should have broad active volunteer support and annual revenues exceeding $25,000.  Organizations must receive less than half their income from government entities to be eligible.  Religious organizations may apply.  Clubs and recreational facilities are not eligible for the grant.

“What’s nice about this particular grant is that many times you have to submit a project to be funded, and certainly, organizations may do that, but you can also submit a request for a grant simply for operating funds,” says Ms. Siciliano.  “It does not have to be for a specific project.  Another stipulation is that the grant can’t fund more than 40% of their budget for the year.  However, there’s an exception to that rule as well in if an organization is going through a capital project, where a building renovation, that kind of thing that is a more expensive, one-time project, then even if it is more than 40% of their budget for the year that they’re asking funds for, if its for that type of project, we certainly can fund that.”

“But we distribute a grant no smaller than $250.  That’s our minimum grant amount from The Foundation, and, obviously, if we decided to award to one organization, it could be a $53,000 grant, but the intent of the donor is to fund as many organizations as possible, so that they can support the county broadly.  This will be done and administered by a committee, and we do have someone serving on the committee from the Highland County area, so that our grants and scholarship committee can have some perspective from Highland County.”

That 8-member committee plans to begin reviewing applications on October 1, 2018, and grants are planned to be distributed by November 30, 2018.  Ms. Siciliano continues, “I think in the years of working with this particular donor, they became very evident that there was such a great love for Highland County and a recognition that there was great need, and the hope of the donor was to impact the county in a positive way as broadly as possible, so we’re just excited to work with the nonprofits in Highland County and are really eager to see how this might change and allow them to dream really big, bigger than they’ve been able to in the past about things they’d like to accomplish for the community.”

The Little Swiss Fund Grants application deadline is November 1, 2018.  To apply online, nonprofits can visit the Community Foundation’s website at .  Organizations can apply every year, whether they have received a grant or not.  Ann Siciliano is eager to answer questions at 540-432-3863.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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