HSJ Online - which was launched in January as an "electronic newspaper" for news of Hope and the Northeastern Bartholomew County area - has reached its first fundraising goal by completing an initial matching grant. Meanwhile, a second matching grant has now been designated.

"We are pleased to announce that the community has stepped forward over the first six months to contribute the $10,000 needed for us to receive the additional $10,000 grant offered by former area resident Tim Andrews," said Tim Shoaf, chairman of a 5-person advisory committee for the web site.

And, he then announced that the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment of the Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, has offered $5,000 as another matching grant toward the completion of the second fundraising tier. Shoaf said the combined contributions places the newspaper well on its way to the goal of raising the $30,000 deemed necessary for the publication to be on sound financial footing.

"We launched this publication on faith after the closing of The Hope Star-Journal," Shoaf said. "While we could find no way to make that print product financially viable, we felt the community would come forward to support an electronic version. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response!"

Work toward the electronic newspaper began in October 2014, shortly after the funeral of Larry Simpson, Hope community leader and owner/publisher/editor of the 102-year-old Star-Journal. The initial group of developers was made up of the pallbearers from Simpson's funeral.

This group was soon joined by several other community advocates.

Members of the advisory committee contributed some initial funds to launch the process. Andrews - a frequent community philanthropist and Hauser High School graduate - came forward with the offer of the first matching grant. Andrews is president and chief executive officer of Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) based in Pennsylvania. Since that time, 15 Hope area residents and former residents have come forward to donate the needed funds to match the grant.

"This new matching grant from our community endowment is a real shot in the arm for us," Shoaf said. "This not only is a great boost toward completing our fundraising goal, but once again shows the community as a whole is behind our efforts."

The number of readers visiting to the free newspaper website has grown steadily since the launch. As of June 29th, there have been nearly 30,000 total visits.

HSJ Online is a part of the Media Division of Heritage of Hope, Inc., a 501(c)3 entity. All donations are exempt from taxes. Contributions for HSJ Online may be mailed to P.O. 21, Hope, IN 47246.