Posted by: Kallie Sulanke  | Oct/25/2018

Campaign Leads to New CASA Program Volunteers Serving More Kids

The Delaware County CASA Program saw an increase in volunteers and is serving more children thanks to a multi-channel awareness campaign funded by a $23,000 grant from the Funders Forum Collaborative. The campaign raised awareness of the growing opioid epidemic in Delaware County and motivated community members to volunteer with the CASA program.

The CASA program advocates for abused and neglected children in our community. The need for CASA has grown tremendously due to the current drug and opioid epidemic. There has been an almost 200 percent increase of abused and neglected children in the Delaware County Court System since 2012. Prior to the campaign, CASA was only able to serve 41 percent of the children appointed to the CASA Program. While CASA has been acutely aware of the impact this epidemic is having on children and families in our community, the community at large has been unaware of how widespread the problem is.

Television, radio, and social media messaging and advertisements raised awareness of the opioid epidemic and emphasized the impact that concerned citizens can have through volunteer opportunities with the organization. Campaign materials can be found at delawarecountycasa.org. As a result of the awareness campaign, the CASA program experienced an 89 percent increase in volunteer applications. New volunteers reported that they had seen or heard the campaign, were driven to volunteer because of their awareness of the opioid epidemic and were previously unaware of the extent of the need for volunteers.

“With the new volunteers who have already successfully completed training, 66 more children are expected to be impacted through advocacy efforts this year,” said Ashley Soldaat, Director of the Delaware County CASA Program. “We have a waitlist of volunteers for this fall’s training and anticipate an additional 28 children could be impacted by these volunteers once training is complete.”

The Funders Forum Collaborative brings together Delaware County funders to pool knowledge, experiences, and resources to make a collective impact on a current issue in the community. In 2017, after an examination of common funding priorities and community needs, the group identified programs that address drug prevention and education. Organizations whose missions aligned with the goals of the Funders Forum Collaboration were invited to submit proposals.

“We were pleased with the outcome of this grant, both in raising awareness of an issue impacting the community and positively affecting the lives of so many children through increased volunteers at the CASA Program,” said Jenna Wachtmann, Ball Brothers Foundation.

As early as 1997, the Funders Forum was convened as a way for local funders to discuss community issues and hear from nonprofit organizations about their programs and services. Since then, the group has evolved to include collaborative grantmaking. Members of the Funders Forum Collaborative include Ball Brothers Foundation, George and Frances Ball Foundation, The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Delaware Advancement Corporation/Muncie Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, First Merchants Corporation, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Foundation, Harry and Janet Kitselman Foundation Fund, Kiwanis Club of Muncie, Maxon Foundation Fund, Muncie Altrusa Foundation, MutualBank Charitable Foundation, Office of Community Development – City of Muncie, Old National Bank Foundation, Psi Iota Xi, Rotary Club of Muncie, Shafer Foundation, Tri Kappa, United Way of Delaware County, and the Sherman and Marjorie Zeigler Foundation.

“With this grant and future grants, we are setting an example of collaboration by working beside each other and by pooling our resources to move the needle on important issues in our community,” said Richard Zeigler, Sherman and Marjorie Zeigler Foundation.

Applications to the Funders Forum Collaborative are accepted by invitation only.