Duneland Education Foundation Pledges Support for STEM Education with Generous Investment in the Duneland YMCA’s Healthy Living Campus

Pictured (from left to right): Dave Kasarda, CEO of Duneland Family YMCA ; Abby Evans, secretary of DEF; Meg McCarel, executive Director of DEF ; John Kroft and Darlene Kittredge, founding board members of DEF ; Jim Trout, Chief Volunteer Officer of Duneland Family YMCA ; Elissa Dortmund, President of the Board of Directors of DEF

For Immediate Release – June 18, 2024 Press Release

As a long-standing non-profit staple in the Duneland community, the Duneland Family YMCA is elated to have strengthened its relationship with another local non-profit that is also continuously positively impacting our youth. The Duneland Education Foundation, founded in the mid-1980’s, has been steadily expanding upon their efforts to enhance the learning experiences for children in Duneland and their donation towards a STEM room at the new Healthy Living Campus is a significant move indeed. 

Noting their confidence that the YHLC will serve as a vibrant community center in the heart of downtown Chesterton, the foundation’s board of directors was excited to explore their possibilities to both benefit the masses while also honoring their founding members.

"As our foundation began discussing the possibility of donating to the YHLC, we wanted to make sure we chose something that would match our goal of enhancing educational experiences with the Duneland community. When the board learned of the opportunity to put our donation toward a STEM room, we never looked back!"

The foundation’s director, Meg McCarel, echoed Dortmund’s excitement in getting involved with the YHLC project as the foundation’s board expands upon their community works. “It is so exciting to work with this board,” exclaimed McCarel. “We are now more visible than ever before and are finding new, fun ways to help the students and teachers in our community.”


While the Duneland Family YMCA has offered a handful of engaging STEM related programs and activities over the years, the ability to have the space at the YHLC to build out a dedicated space for STEM will be a game-changer for Y programming. Stepping in to support this opportunity and make it happen was seemingly kismet for the foundation, who at their core seek out these types of moments to best benefit students and educators. “Being able to give Duneland youth a place to enhance their learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the perfect way to give back! I am incredibly excited to see this room in action and so proud of our foundation for making the decision to support this incredible project,” exclaimed Dortmund.


It goes without saying that as the Duneland Family YMCA continues to forge ahead with finalizing plans for the YHLC, these types of investments are undoubtedly appreciated and imperative to bring this first of its kind vision to light. “The philanthropic gift made by the Duneland Education Foundation to the Duneland YMCA’s Healthy Living Campus STEM classroom is a truly transformative investment in our community’s future,” said Dave Kasarda, Duneland Family YMCA CEO. “It not only enhances educational opportunities by providing vital resources for STEM learning but also empowers our youth to develop essential skills for tomorrow’s challenges. This contribution underscores their commitment to fostering innovation, education, and health, creating a brighter, more promising future for all.”


This announcement follows closely on the heels of the Duneland Family YMCA’s announcement of the extraordinary contribution from the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation for a 20-acre public park on the YHLC campus. More information regarding this project and how to contribute to the capital campaign can be found at www.yhlcduneland.org.


About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women, and children – regardless of age, income, or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has long-standing relationships and a physical presence not just to promise but to deliver lasting personal and social change. More information can be located at www.dunelandymca.org.


About the Duneland YMCA Healthy Living Campus Project

At the Y, we believe that when we devote our full strength to our mission and cause, work in partnership with others, and build on our commitment to the children, families, and underserved people of Duneland, we can address the most pressing issues of our community unlike any other organization. The Healthy Living Campus is combining adaptive reuse and new construction to create a new community hub and park in the heart of Chesterton. With the inclusion of several non-profit and healthcare partners, we are building more than just a YMCA. The campus will be an innovative space fostering collaboration within a one-stop-shop capable of addressing a variety of community health and wellness needs.