(EFFINGHAM, Illinois – December 2021) Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation is pleased to announce the Siemer Milling Endowment for Youth Leadership Development has awarded seven grants totaling $63,124 to the following programs.

$5,000 grant to Mid-Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters

 Funding will be utilized to support current programs and help to recruit new volunteers.  Mid-Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has 107 kids waiting for a caring adult mentor currently.  Their goal is to Keep Kids Connected, Not Waiting.  During the pandemic, they experienced a 40% decline in volunteer applications and are anxious to draw volunteers back into programming.  “…as we continue to rebound from the COVID-19 Crisis, funding will help us to cover the existing gap in our forecasted budget to continue to provide our valuable services to our youths, families, and community.  During 2021, we were unable to host in-person fundraising events.  We are hopeful to return to our live fundraisers in February of 2022 with our Annual Glo-Bingo and April 2022 with our Bowl for Kids’ Sake” states Stacey Rios.

Pictured (L-R).  Stacy Rios (Director of BBBS) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)




$2,500 grant to local Boy Scouts

Funding will be used for 13 summer camp “Camperships” of youth participating in local Boy Scouts.  Scouts BSA is a neighborhood and outdoor-centered program for boys and girls ages 11 to 18. It emphasizes leadership, self-reliance, participating citizenship, and lifelong values. Scouts take turns at leadership roles, set the troop’s calendar and, with adult guidance, run its meetings. They earn badges for service to others and personal achievements. Scouting allows for youth to learn many skills associated with leadership including communication, teamwork, responsibility, and decision making.  In addition, they learn how to be a part of a team to accomplish tasks and goals and are allowed to learn and fail in a safe environment with their peers.

Pictured (L-R): Noah Olson (Boy Scouts) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)  





$20,000 to Effingham Child Development Center

Funding will be used for the “Lights On Afterschool” and “Summer Camp” which are invaluable programs offered by ECDC dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. The ECDC showcases the achievements of school-age children by offering a blend of academic and developmental skill-building activities. All children enjoy a healthy snack, help with their homework, and enjoy the comradery between fellow children and staff. The center encourages student-created and led activities like skits, dance, music, and poetry. Children build a sense of community by helping plan, organize and participate in ECDC fundraisers. Some activities include yoga, basketball, mural painting, board games and more!

Pictured (L-R) Jordan Koerner (Board Member), Rochelle French (Director of ECDC), Daphne Gullett (Siemer Milling), and Bri Hilliard (Board Member)


$5,000 to the Effingham Public Library

Funding will be used for the Safe Sitter program. Childcare, or babysitting, has long been a staple income for older tweens and teens in rural communities.
These lessons provided the strong base of skills that many Safe Sitter graduates still use today as they are raising their own children and possibly continue to care for children either in their homes or as childcare staff in our community. In collaboration with HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Effingham Public Library brings the Safe Sitter program back to the Effingham area. Effingham Public Library will host Safe Sitter sessions at the library during 2022.  With the successful completion of this grant, 90 new childcare providers will be available to our community’s families – and if they provide safe, responsible care to just ten infants, toddlers or young children in just one year – this grant will meet the needs of 900 young children.

Pictured (L-R), Johnna Schultz (Effingham Library) and Amanda Rieman (Siemer Milling)




$19,000 to The Study Shoppe 2021-2022

Funding will help with operations of the Study Shoppe which is a free after school program for junior high and high school students of Effingham.  Covid has created many different learning obstacles for students in the community to overcome.  The Study Shoppe wants the youth of this community to know there ARE people who care about them, and their education and they want to reach those students and plant the seeds of faith and academic success.  The Meinhart family began this program 5 years ago with personal funds.  They chose this location because of its easy access to both the junior high and high school.  The location is accessible to those students most in need of the program.  Operational hours make it possible for working parents and those who may need the Shoppe to stay open a bit longer to accommodate their schedules.

Pictured (L-R) Katie Siemer (Siemer Milling), Tammy Meinhart (Board President) and Nancy Marschewski (Executive Director)



$3,000 to Ballard Nature Center

The Ballard Nature Center will use the funding to expand its summer programs to include lessons on environmental stewardship for older kids.  The nature center’s programs help kids to form connections with nature by allowing them to explore freely in nature.  Ballard Nature Center believes spending time in nature is so important for kids’ mental and physical wellbeing.  “Kids also realize during our programs that being in nature can be very enjoyable and stimulating.  We will provide the older children with microscopes, nets, and other equipment to provide ample opportunities for hands-on learning and exploring.  We will also include more environmental stewardship lessons in our field trip programs,” states Karan Gruel.

Pictured (L-R) Karan Greuel (Executive Director, Ballard Nature Center) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)






$8,624 to Effingham Unit 40’s East Side Preschool

East Side Preschool has expanded significantly in the past 2 years at Effingham Unit 40’s expense. Funding will be used to provide daily milk for each student at their snack break. In order to physically and academically develop into future leaders, young children need to drink milk daily as it provides calcium and Vitamin D to assist with brain development, dental health, immune health, and bone strength. Incorporating milk into their daily routine, preschool students will also learn the importance of milk and the general health benefits of milk. During the milk break, students will work on their fine motor skills as they open the milk cartons. Although this may seem insignificant, strong fine motor leads to independence and offers an authentic opportunity for social skill application.

(Pictured L-R) Christy Jones, Jennifer Hall, Bernice Shabbing, Amanda Reiman (Siemer Milling), Micaela Chrappa, René Green, and Jennifer Fox


Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation was established in 2009 due to a merger between Effingham County Community Foundation (est. 1999) and Mattoon Area Community Foundation (est. 1980). Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization managing permanent and non-permanent assets for the long-term benefit of communities in southeastern Illinois.