From painted rocks and positive messages to racing pumpkins and Christmas cheer, the first few months of the Little BIG Idea Grant have helped to deliver amazing cool ideas throughout Elkhart County.

To celebrate, the Elkhart County Commissioners have declared February to be Little BIG Idea Month.

Throughout the month, we’ll be combing the county for even more great ideas. We’ll be talking to school clubs, young professionals, retirement communities and everywhere in between. Perhaps you’ve seen the billboards at high-traffic areas, or the fliers sent home with all students in Elkhart County schools, or the YouTube videos of the projects that have already become reality.

The Canvas & Kool-Aid event joined together painting with Kool-Aid for a fun afternoon in Elkhart.

But you don’t have to wait for someone to ask before you submit an idea. Have you dreamed of staging a community water gun fight? Thought it would be cool if someone covered the downtown sidewalks with chalk murals? Imagined that robots racing down Main Street would make everyone smile?

Submit your application at and you could get up to $1,000 to make your dream become a reality.

So far, Little BIG Idea Grants have been awarded to a pair of moms who dreamed of a dynamic holiday marketplace, a musician who brought together artists of all genres to a Latino cultural festival, teachers who brought student inspirations to life through art, books and gardens, and a DJ who joined art with Kool-Aid into an unforgettable afternoon.

Dancers perform at Encuentro in the Alley on Oct. 18, 2017, in Goshen.

For Little BIG Idea Month, we salute these completed and upcoming projects, the creative forces behind them, and the many more to come:

  • Goshen Rocks, Josh Cooper (video)
  • Middlebury Pumpkin Races, Kim Clarke (video)
  • Waky Gardens, Tom Bennett
  • Faces of Goshen, Leah Schroeder
  • Christmas at the Powerhouse, Macey Judd and Sarah Beiler (video)
  • Encuentro in the Alley, Nayo Ulloa (video)
  • The Elkhart County Seek, Rocki Stillson
  • Stages of Change, Beth Sokolowski
  • Lunar Lunch, Susie Meeks-Wade
  • Little Library Boxes, Betsy Poling
  • Heroes of Hope, Laury Allen, Riley Kronk, Sydni Moore, Caitlyn Payne, Cameron Kincaid, Macayla Pernokis (news coverage on WSBT)
  • Pots of Grace, Benita Joldersma
  • Canvas & Kool-Aid, Robert Taylor
  • Faces of Middlebury, Kim Clarke
  • Scavenger Book Hunt, Kelsey Ambrosen

The Little BIG Idea Grant program was launched in summer 2017 as an initiative of Vibrant Communities, which champions quality-of-place programs such as arts and culture, parks and green spaces, and community engagement. The first recipients were announced in August, and each month more recipients are awarded following an application review process.

The Elkhart Central High School 3D Art class accepts a Little BIG Idea Grant check on Oct. 17, 2017.

The grants are intended to inspire creativity and community pride through projects and initiatives that celebrate life in Elkhart County. The more people who can get involved or be affected positively by a project, the better!

Grant applications for up to $1,000 awards are still being accepted at It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 years old or 88 years old. The Little BIG Idea Grant and the Vibrant Communities initiatives believe in the power of creative people being inspired to shine their light across the community.