The decisions faced by those living in a poverty situation often aren’t easy.

The message was brought home to young people participating in a poverty simulation during the Teen Leadership program through the Tipp City Chamber of Commerce and the Tipp City Foundation.

“Sometimes life isn’t fair,” said Richard Bender of the United Way of Miami County in talking with the high school students from Tipp City about the work of the United Way and then conducting the simulation.

The students were provided a series of scenarios and a list of choices faced when “living off of nickels and dimes” during a month, Bender said. In those times, he said, one little thing can upset the entire budget.

One scenario talked about a sudden illness by the person’s dog with the options of paying $400 to treat, $50 to put the animal down or to do nothing.

The students took turns discussing the scenarios and what might be the best of a list of less than desirable options.

The simulation was followed by discussions with Bender and Melissa Keller of the Tipp City Foundation about nonprofit organizations across the community that work to help people in many ways. 

More than 40 of those organizations are supported by the United Way and many organizations receive funding for projects/programs through the Tipp City Foundation.

Even though the students might not be at an age yet where they can financially take a philanthropic role in their community, they do have something to offer. 

“You have your time. You can do things now that can make a difference,” Keller said.

The students also participated in a grant distribution exercise led by Keller and Jim Ranft of the Tipp City Foundation. 

Ranft discussed the foundation’s distribution committee of community residents who meet four times a year to consider grant applications. Among questions that committee asks is how many local lives are touched by the proposed project.

A series of grant applications submitted by nonprofit organization for consideration by the Teen Leadership participants was reviewed. The students asked questions about the applications before deciding how much to award. 

They had $5,000 to spend with each application seeking a $500 grant. Many nonprofits were seeking money to help make projects go forward after major fund-raising events for the year have had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Teen Leadership program – the third – was restructured due to COVID-19, said Liz Sonnanstine, Chamber of Commerce executive director.  A smaller group of five students participated in a two-day program in late June. Previous programs lasted one week. This year, students participated in the poverty simulation, the grant distribution exercise and a city service project.

Grants Awarded by Tipp City Teen Leadership participants:

Brukner Nature Center for nature story time supplies for Tipp City preschoolers

CASA/GAL of Miami County for Caring Tree children’s Christmas gifts

Child Care Choices for Zoom host platform costs

Downtown Tipp City Partnership for signage

Give Medical Ministry for bathroom safety equipment

Miami County Dental Clinic for Traveling Smiles portable dental program for children

Tipp City Public Library for public art mural in alley

Tipp Monroe Community Services for Community Relief Program

Tipp Monroe Community Services for Lunch on Us free summer food program

Troy Miami County Library for Imagination library books for children in Tipp City and Bethel


We’d love to stay in touch. Stay connected with the Tipp City Foundation by:

All marketing activities of the Foundation is 100% underwritten by generous sponsors. Please contact us at for information on how your business or organization can become our partner in philanthropy. 

  • Silver Sponsor – Thrivent Financial (Matt Buehrer)
  • Bronze Sponsors – Advanced Machinery Companies; Dunaway Family Foundation; Dungan & LeFevre; Ever-Green Turf & Landscape; Gibson Law Offices; Monroe Federal Savings and Loan; New Carlisle Federal Savings Bank; Pickrel, Schaeffer and Ebeling; Unity National Bank
  • Friend Sponsors – Captor Corp.; Edward Jones (Neil Nehring); Frings & Bayliff Funeral Home; Minster Bank; RSM US; Turnstone Financial; US Bank
  • Media Sponsor – Tippecanoe Gazette

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