Posted by: Kallie Sulanke on Apr/7/2017


In July 2004, Beyond I CAN moved out of Southside High School and into the Muncie community. Founded by special education teacher Nancy Barnett, it was originally a business project geared toward her students, who made various crafts and endeavored to sell them in order to learn project management, build confidence, and experience teamwork. But one parent, in particular, saw the value of this informal business, and when Barnett retired, he offered to provide a building where it could continue to promote positive experiences for individuals with disabilities. More than 10 years later, Beyond I CAN continues to grow and credits The Community Foundation for helping it develop an endowment fund and a strategic business plan that will help sustain it into the future.

As the program developed in those first few years, Barnett was approached by staff from The Community Foundation, who suggested the possibility of starting an acorn fund. They came to a Beyond I CAN board meeting and presented information about how this type of fund could assist the organization with long-term stability and assisted the board in creating a strategic planning worksheet that identified objectives and timelines.

“The meeting with The Community Foundation energized our fundraising efforts to meet our goal for the acorn fund,” says Pam Nicholas, who served as president of the board of directors for Beyond I CAN at the time. One of the board members made the initial donation to get the fund started, and that in addition to funds raised through the organization’s Christmas card sales allowed Beyond I CAN to meet its goal within the first two years.

We were very blessed and pleased that people were taking an interest in us. And we’ve had such incredible support from The Community Foundation.

“We had some active board members who made some nice donations to the fund, and then it grew from the acorn,” Barnett says. “We were very blessed and pleased that people were taking an interest in us. And we’ve had such incredible support from The Community Foundation.”

Beyond I CAN now works with 20-25 artisans, who all pitch in to run the gift shop in a variety of ways. There are also social events and wellness programs that minister to individual needs and enhance quality of life. Clearly, it is a program that benefits not only the participants themselves but also other members of the community who are able to witness the potential of these individuals and have positive interactions with them. As it moves into a larger facility and continues to develop, Beyond I CAN looks forward to a bright future and will be able to rely on the support of its endowment fund for years to come.

Learn More About Acorn Funds

Donors can create an Acorn Fund by making a planting a seed - a gift- and growing the fund to its required minimum within five years.