Maria Vargas has been a member of the Grant Committee with FEC for approximately four years. In that time, she has helped to allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to organizations that make life better for East Chicagoans. However, she maintains that it is all a group effort.


“The Foundations of East Chicago are great stewards of the funds we are given to manage,” said Maria. “The Grant Committee is a diverse group of people that are very committed to East Chicago and who take our work very seriously.”


Although the distribution of so much funding is a serious matter, Maria says that she greatly enjoys being a part of the Grant Committee, in part because of all the fun community events organized by grantees that members can attend.


“I always look forward to the summer programs such as Calumet Day and back to school events,” said Maria. “Calumet Day draws a lot of the community together and it’s nice to see all of the kids having fun.”


However, reading grants isn’t all that members of this committee do. After grants have been awarded, committee members must make site visits to the grantee organizations to evaluate their use of the grant funds.


“My favorite part is having input and learning about different agencies’ programs and services that seek to improve East Chicago residents’ quality of life,” said Maria. “Being a resident of East Chicago, I am proud to serve my community and look forward to learning about different services that are offered.”


Maria said that she also loves working with so many people who share her passion for helping the community, and that is what makes the organization so special.


To learn more about those behind the scenes at FEC, visit