Annual Hearts of Gold Awards nominations open.

Who in your world always makes the time to assist anyone in need?  Who consistently helps others without expecting anything in return?  Who gives time, talent, or treasure to make life easier for other people?

Please, take a few minutes to tell us about someone in your world who deserves to be considered for recognition as a Hearts of Gold Award recipient.  People to consider nominating for this special award are neighbors, volunteers, business people, teachers, mentors, students or groups that contribute to enhancing the quality of life of others in east central Illinois (Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Moultrie, Piatt or Vermilion County residents are eligible.  Elected officials are not eligible for nomination.)

The online nomination form is brief and easy to complete.  Nominations are open from January 16 through midnight February 9, 2018.

Recipients will be honored at the Community Foundation's fourth annual Hearts of Gold Gala:Celebration of Philanthropy dinner on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Click here for the 2018 Hearts of Gold Award Nomination Form

2017 Community Commitment Grants Application Available

Applications are now open for the annual Community Commitment Grant cycle.  Endowed funds from donors who have left a legacy for the future are the primary source of ongoing funding for these grants.

Community Commitment Grants, unlike many other grant opportunities, are awarded each year to nonprofits that serve residents of east central Illinois for durable, non-disposable items.  Staffing costs, marketing, general operations and endowments, for instance, do not fall within these grant guidelines.

Click here for application and full guidelines.  (now closed)

Capacity-Building MicroGrants

Jointly funded by the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois and the Lumpkin Family Foundation, these grants provide a maximum of $1,500 for organizations to send staff or board members to conferences or to bring training opportunities in-house. Applications are due by midnight July 31, 2017.

Click here for application.

Community Foundation seeks new Development Director

Great opportunity to help grow a local nonprofit and have an impact throughout east central Illinois.

We are seeking an experienced fund developer who has been successful with major gifts, planned giving and leaving a legacy.

The Development Director has the opportunity to work with staff, the Board of Trustees and philanthropic individuals and corporations to make a real difference. The Development Director should be persuasive and eager to develop solid long-term relationships with current and prospective donors.

The position is intended to be full-time but there is flexibility. Attendance at before and after hours meetings and events is expected. The right individual should know our area, have the ability to travel throughout east central Illinois and the desire to continue the great work of our organization.

You have to be a good communicator – both orally and in writing – and be thoroughly familiar with social media as a development tool.

Please email resume and cover letter to

In Fond Memory of Walt Manske

Walt Manske, a 2014 Hearts of Gold Award recipient and wonderful friend of many area nonprofit organizations, passed away on May 30. Walt will be dearly missed and long remembered for his kindness and lifelong commitment to doing whatever he could to make a positive difference in our quality of life.

For nearly five decades, Walt gave generously of his time, valuable professional facility-planning skills, and his remarkable consensus-
building talent to numerous nonprofit organizations whose causes he supported. For all of Walt Manske's loved ones, friends and acquaintances, he will be be remembered as a kind and generous man who made us and our community better.

Click here to read Walt's obituary from the News-Gazette.

Hearts of Gold Gala Celebrated Philanthropists Among Us

The 2017 Hearts of Gold Gala was a great celebration of philanthropy in east central Illinois. Nearly 125 people joined in to honor five Hearts of Gold Awardees and the 2017 Kyle & Phyllis Robeson Philanthropy Awardees.

The Conservatory Quartet from the Conservatory of East Central Illinois played a lovely selection of music throughout the social hour. The Champaign Country Club served our guests a great meal with strawberry shortcake to top it off. Joan Dixon updated the group on the Community Foundation. Then, the audience sat back to hear stories about the selfless contributions the five Hearts of Gold Award Recipients make in their communities. Tim Flavin, John Jones, Tom Kacich, Grace Mitchell and Scott Price were warmly applauded for the work they do to make others' lives better.

Richard & Rosann Noel were presented with the 2017 Kyle & Phyllis Robeson Philanthropy Award for their decades of giving to their Alma maters, their church, the arts, education and state and local nonprofit organizations. The Noels, like the previous recipients of the award, have also carried forward the philanthropic spirits from their families, made it their own and shared and encouraged that spirit in their children and grandchildren. The Noels are truly examples of philanthropy in east central Illinois at its best. 

To see or download the photos, click  Hearts of Gold Gala Album


2017 Hearts of Gold Gala Award Recipients: Read Their Stories

Hearts of Gold awards acknowledge the everyday heroes who step up and do what needs to be done—with no expectation of anything in return. Through their generosity of time, talent or treasure, they add immeasurable value to the organizations they support and to the residents of their communities. The 2017 recipients are outstanding examples of selfless giving back to their communities. To read their stories, click below:

   2017 Hearts of Gold Gala Program
   2017 Kyle & Phyllis Robeson Philanthropy Award Recipients: Richard & Rosann Noel

To see the photo gallery from the event, click 2017 Hearts of Gold Gallery

2016 Community Foundation Annual Report Available Online

The 2016 Annual report for the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois provides a summary of the our activities and accomplishments during 2015. You'll find updates on our Building Better Boards and Collective Impact multi-year grant initiatives, as well as some follow-up stories outlining positive results from some nonprofit organizations that are putting their grant dollars to good use.

Of course, there is also donor list and the names of all the organizations that received distributions from the Community Foundation in 2015. To read the report in our new "flipbook"  format, click below.

2016 Annual Report of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois

Boys & Girls Club of Danville Establishes Endowment

At a November reception for donors and supporters, the Boys & Girls Club of Danville and the Community Foundation jointly announced that the Boys & Girls Club of Danville Endowment has been established. The endowment fund was started with $20,000 in donations from two anonymous donors. Commitment for another generous gift to the fund from Dr. Joseph Fabrizio & Mrs. Phyllis Dougherty-Fabrizio was announced at the event.

Executive Director Rob Gifford said that the fund is an investment in the long-term sustainability of the Club as a vital resource in the Danville community. The Community Foundation has accepted several additional donations to the fund since the event. Endowments grow over time from all gifts—both large and small—and the Boys & Girls Club of Danville appreciates all donations.

In Fond Memory of Helen Levin

With her passing in August at the age of 103, we can reflect on Helen Levin’s indelible legacy of generosity, service, leadership and involvement in countless civic and philanthropic endeavors.

While the Community Foundation had thirteen founding fathers in 1972, Helen Levin was our only founding mother. Highly respected for her commitment to local philanthropy, Helen was the only woman named to serve on the first Community Foundation Board of Trustees. She served as a trustee until 1979 and was elected Honorary Trustee in May, 1980. Helen said of the foundation,
“We need each other. Through the Community Foundation we reach out to others who need help and can join us in making a community that enriches all our lives.”

Helen Levin enriched our community throughout her life. The Community Foundation is grateful to Helen and our 13 founding fathers for building the solid organizational foundation that enables us to continue for nearly 45 years to help improve the quality of life in our greater community. 

Congrats, 2016 Community Commitment Grant Recipients

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois announced 26 nonprofit recipients of nearly $80,000 from the 2016 Annual Community Commitment Grants. Community Commitment Grants are funded by the Foundation’s endowment funds. Each year, nonprofits in a nine-county service area are offered the opportunity to apply for grants for durable goods or capital items not typically covered by other granting bodies. Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide services in the arts, health and human services, education and literacy, and food and nutrition—any area that helps to improve the quality of life of residents. 

For the list of 26 recipients and the purpose and amounts of their grants, see the December 2016 Foundation Focus


Tom Costello Assumes Role as Board of Trustees Chair

Tom Costello, recently retired Assistant Managing Director for CUMTD, has assumed the role of Chair, Community Foundation Board of Trustees. Tom remains a communications instructor at the University of Illinois as he has been for over 40 years. Tom presented Brooke Didier-Starks with a plaque of appreciation and thanked her for her leadership as Chair during the 2015-16 term. Brooke is an estate planning attorney at Meyer Capel.

Congratulations, Fall 2016 MicroGrant Recipients

Capacity-Building MicroGrants are jointly funded by the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois and the Lumpkin Family Foundation. These grants provide a maximum of $1,500 for small nonprofit organizations to send staff or board members to conferences or to bring training opportunities in-house to enhance their organizations' capabilities. Recipients must pay at least 20% of the total cost of the meeting.

Congratulations to the Fall 2016 MicroGrant recipients:

  • CASA of Vermilion County 
  • Champaign County Bikes 
  • DREAAM House 
  • Rape Crisis Center of Vermilion County 
  • YWCA of the University of Illinois 

Marajen Stevick Foundation Funds $50,000 for Grants

With funding from the Marajen Stevick Foundation, the Community Foundation distributed $50,000 in grants to six area nonprofit organizations.

The Marajen Stevick Foundation grants offer funding for nonprofit organizations that provide services in three areas: enhancing the lives of senior citizens, beautification of the Champaign-Urbana and surrounding area, and promoting excellence in reading and writing, as was the wish of Mrs. Stevick Chinigo.

Congratulations to the following organizations on their grants:
  • $5,000 to Hope Meadows in Rantoul for removal of several of the more than 30 very large dead trees fallen victim to the emerald ash borer.
  • $5,000 to Prosperity Gardens in Champaign for landscaping of the N. First Street site of the former police evidence building, and for establishing a honeybee colony on the Beardsley Park site (within the fenced area). 
  • $5,000 to WorkSource Enterprises in Danville for landscaping of its new 12,000 square foot developmental training facility being built adjacent to its current facility. 
  • $7,000 to PACE Center for Independent Living in Urbana for demonstration equipment to allow local low-vision seniors to try out adaptive-technology products not currently stocked in the area.
  • $10,000 to Illinois Radio Readers to expand the number of hours of airtime of local/regional news, create podcasts for on-demand options for users, and increase the number of receivers from 500 to 600. (See the new video about Illinois Radio Reader)
  • $18,000 to Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center (UNCC) for the Intensive Literacy Intervention and Academic Support Program for students in its Afterschool program, School Out Days and summer session to receive individualized literacy improvement services twice weekly. 

Thanks to All for Great Evening

Thanks to all who attended our Hearts of Gold Gala for making it a great evening. There was no doubt that the group of 120 was ready to celebrate philanthropy in east central Illinois.

Congratulations again to the all of the recipients, their friends and families, as well as all of you who are loyal supporters of the Community Foundation.
_______________  _______________

2016 Hearts of Gold Award Recipients

Peggy Campo, Urbana
Rose Gates, Danville
Anita Hochberger, Rantoul
John Muirhead, Champaign
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Youth Club, Gifford

It was also very special to have Kyle & Phyllis Robeson with us to help honor the second recipients of the philanthropy award named for them and their fifty years of philanthropic work in east central Illinois.

 2016 Kyle & Phyllis Robeson Philanthropy Award Recipients

Helen Levin, Emily Levin and the Ezra Levin Foundation

_______________ _______________




2016 Scholarship Opportunities 

Congratulations to the recipients of our 2016 scholarship opportunities.

2016 Marajen Stevick Foundation Grants Applications Under Review

The Community Foundation is now reviewing applications for the 2016 Marajen Stevick Foundation Grants. Organizations that enhance the quality of life for senior citizens, promote excellence in reading and writing for all levels of education, or add the aesthetic enhancement of the physical environment of Champaign, Urbana and surrounding communities have submitted applications. 

ISU/CUC2C Grant to Help Youth Prep for Workforce

Over the next five years, $5 million will be funneled into the community to train youths on how to get ready for the workforce. The federal grant money will be used to develop a program in Champaign-Urbana that aims to help 15- to 24-year-olds strengthen their relationship-building skills, receive career preparation, find work over the summer or take classes at Parkland College. The pilot program, set to launch this spring, is being brought here by Champaign-Urbana Cradle2Career and Illinois State University… To read the entire 12/10/2015 News Gazette article by Nicole LaFond, CLICK HERE

The Community Foundation serves as the fiscal agent for CUC2C and staff serve on the Steering Committee and Leadership Council. To learn more about the goals and opportunities to join the CUC2C movement, CLICK HERE to see a video. 

December Foundation Focus Newsletter Features Leister Fund

The December 2015 newsletter features Bud and Sandy Leister talking about their new endowment fund with the Community Foundation. The recipients of the 2015 Annual Community Commitment Grant recipients are named and Joan Dixon, President and CEO announces that we have bought our building. To see these stories and other news CLICK HERE

First Collective Impact Partners Selected

A concept paper to collaboratively develop a model program to improve energy-efficiency and safety for low-income seniors was submitted by Hope Meadows, Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County and Rantoul Township High School. Their proposal was selected as the Foundation’s first Collective Impact Grant project.

The Broad-based Problem. Many economically vulnerable seniors live in older homes that have poor insulation, inadequate security and accessibility issues. Without the means to pay for needed repairs, many face the real possibility of having to choose between paying high heating and cooling costs and buying sufficient food. Food insecurity is a significant problem among low-income seniors. The Proposed Solution. Each of the three partners will contribute to the completion and success of the project.

  • Hope Meadows is a multi-generational 22-acre community of homes built on the former Chanute Air Force Base grounds. Many of the homes are senior-occupies built 50 to 60 years ago. The homes are poorly insulated, resulting in high utility bills for its economically vulnerable population. The project participants will evaluate needs and select homes with the greatest needs for weatherproofing and accessibility accommodations.
  • Rantoul Township High School, with 740 total students, offers construction/repair, woodworking, electrical and other vocational classes that prepare students for building and construction related work. The school seeks to build both career skills and service learning in their students. The students will work with Habitat for Humanity staff to go into the homes to do the agreed upon work.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County works with all willing partners to improve the lives of families needing safe, affordable, decent housing. Recently, Habitat has begun rehabbing homes. Habitat staff is highly experienced and skilled in evaluation, materials acquisition and construction and will supervise and instruct students.
The project is a win, win, win for the Hope Meadows seniors whose homes are enhanced, the students who will learn and work on real projects that will offer them the satisfaction of knowing that their work has helped the seniors in whose homes they worked. Habitat will have helped both the seniors and the students. 

Collective Impact Grants are intended to combine community resources efficiently and serve as models for nonprofits working together to create greater value and good for the community. The Community Foundation’s W. Barclay and Frederick C. Brasch Endowment will provide $150,000 to be shared by the three partners over three-years.

Financial Responsibilities of Board Members Draws Lots of Interest

Nearly 50 nonprofit executive directors and board members attended the Good Works CONNECT convening: “Financial Responsibilities of Board Members” on October 7 from 12-2pm at the Champaign Public Library. The Community Foundation sponsored the event. 

Kelly Duitsman Loschen, CPA and Audit Senior Manager at Martin Hood Friese & Associates, LLC, presented the workshop on the financial responsibilities of board members. She emphasized that the board’s role is to maintain financial accountability of their organizations to ensure the availability of resources to carry out the mission. 

Specifically, she explained that board members act as trustees of the organization’s assets and must exercise due diligence to oversee that the organization is well-managed and that its financial situation remains sound. Board members need to carefully review and understand all financial statements, audits, and the organization’s annual 990. Each board member, she advised, needs to ask key questions and learn to recognize any red flags that need to be addressed.

Kelly and colleague Amanda Alt, CPA fielded questions from the group. Special thanks to Kelly and Amanda for sharing their time and expertise.

First Building Better Boards Grant Recipients Named

Courage Connection, Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, and Hope Meadows’ Generations of Hope Community in Rantoul are the first recipients of the Community Foundation’s new Building Better Boards grants.

These organizations have signed on to an intensive three-phase process of education and training estimated to take one to two years. The incentives are both to learn best practices to guide stronger governance and fundraising in their organizations, as well as the financial reward of $10,000 in unrestricted funds from the Foundation upon successful completion of the first two phases. In Phase Three, the organizations will raise money for their own endowment for which the Foundation will match up to $5,000. This will give each organization the opportunity to complete the process by creating a $10,000 endowment with the Foundation.

CLICK HERE  for details about the Building Better Boards program.

2015 Community Commitment Grant Cycle Open Till August 31

Applications are open now for the annual Community Commitment Grant cycle. Endowed funds from donors who have left a legacy for the future are the primary source of ongoing funding for these grants.

Community Commitment Grants, unlike many other grant opportunities, are awarded each year to nonprofits that serve residents of east central Illinois for durable, non-disposable items. Staffing costs, general operations and endowments, for instance, do not fall within these grant guidelines.  

The Foundation invites proposals in the general areas of arts and humanities, environment, education, health and human services, urban affairs and youth activities. Grants have historically ranged from $500 to $5,000, although the Community Commitment Grant Distribution Committee may consider slightly larger grants that demonstrate a high degree of agency collaboration or impact.

Shown above: A 2014 Community Commitment Grant to Champaign Urbana Special Recreation was used to buy sensory experiential items that help kids in the after-school and camp programs sooth and calm themselves in times of crisis. The grant-funded trampoline with hand-bar, giant crash-mat and secure-feeling hammock are great ways for CUSR kids to chill, relax and relieve stress.

Changing of Board of Trustees Officers

Incoming Chair Brooke Didier Starks presented a plaque and special thanks to Past Chair Jeff Davis at the end of his final board meeting as Chair in June. In addition to Brooke Didier Starks as Chair, the board unanimously approved Tom Costello as Vice-Chair, Rebecca McBride as Secretary and Bradley Uken as Treasurer for the 2015-2016 board term.

The board acknowledged the contributions and awarded plaques to outgoing trustees Charles Hundley, Alan Nudo, Menah Pratt-Clarke and Steve Whitsitt and thanked them for their years of service.

CFECI Distributes $43,200 on Behalf of Marajen Stevick Foundation

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois has distributed $43,200 on behalf of the Marajen Stevick Foundation to four area nonprofit organizations. 
Marajen Stevick Foundation Grants offer annual funding for nonprofit organizations that provide services in the three areas of enhancing the lives of senior citizens, beautification of the Champaign-Urbana area, and promoting excellence in reading and writing, as was the wish of Mrs. Stevick-Chinigo.

Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club was awarded $13,600 to implement a structured reading program in its After School Program. Currently, 50% of the youth attending the After School Program are reading below grade level and could benefit from guided support. Twenty-five students in 2nd through 5th grades will meet with a reading supervisor and volunteer tutors for two 45-minute sessions per week. This Reading Partners model, which has been replicated in six states and 140 schools, can help a student increase his or her reading ability by one full grade with 25 hours of tutoring.

Tap In Leadership Academy (featured in photo above) was awarded $12,000
to support its new
Tap In Prep Academy which will provide an educational foundation necessary for kindergarten readiness for children who are currently on the Champaign Unit 4 Schools’ preschool wait list. Students will receive individualized attention, support and the motivation they need to achieve kindergarten readiness by the end of the school year. This grant represents 10% of the total cost of the program.

The Senior Resource Center at Family Service will receive $10,000
to respond to requests from seniors for assistance up to $200 for immediate medical and $100 for emergency food per person. Caseworkers will assess clients’ situations and determine how to meet immediate needs. Senior Resource Center will pay medical bills directly or purchase the food needed. By addressing immediate needs, the caseworkers will have the opportunity to also work with clients to identify possible long-term solutions.

Champaign Public Library Foundation received a $7,600
grant to purchase 10 iPads and a mobile charging cart to be used primarily in a Senior Tech program aimed at encouraging seniors to learn, socialize and discover new technologies. The Senior Tech program will include six four-week courses that meet once a week and provide “hands-on” experience. The iPads will also be available for use by teen programs.

The Community Foundation administers the Marajen Stevick Foundation’s granting process beginning in early February with a call for proposals from area nonprofit organizations. A Community Foundation selection committee reviews proposals and seeks additional information as needed to fully understand the proposed projects. Awards are announced in the spring.

2015 Gloria Valenti Compassionate Care Award Nominations Open Until September 1

Most people agree that the very best healthcare experiences are delivered by healthcare workers who are both technically skilled and compassionate in their treatment of patients. If you or someone close to you has experienced exemplary care, you know it and remember it. 

The Gloria Valenti Compassionate Care Award was established in honor of Gloria Valenti, RN & President, Diversified Healthcare Services by Professor Martin Wagner in response to the extraordinary care he received during the late years of his life from a dedicated team of caregivers who focused on providing exceptional care and “the healing touch” of compassionate care. The goal of the award is to recognize any healthcare professional who has consistently demonstrated both exemplary performance and compassion in dealing with patients, families and coworkers.
Any healthcare worker—doctor, nurse, aide, technician, therapist, CNA, EMT, mental health worker, anyone—who treats patients of any age and who consistently demonstrates both high technical skill and sincere compassion in the care of patients, families and team members may be nominated.  

$80,032 in 2014 Community Commitment Grants Awarded

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois has announced the recipients of its fall Community Commitment grants totaling over $80,000. Funded primarily by the proceeds from unrestricted endowments, these grants are awarded for durable goods and capital items, things not covered under many other kinds of grants. The Foundation received 62 grant applications requesting $166,933.

The Grants Committee, comprised of both Foundation Board of Trustee members and community volunteers, conducted a lively and engaged review of the applications and visits with organizations under consideration. “The Grants Committee takes their responsibility very seriously,” explained Foundation President & CEO Joan Dixon. “Members learn a lot about the great work that nonprofits are doing and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to get a first-hand look at their facilities and operations,” she added.

This year, the committee recommended that the Foundation Board of Trustees approve awarding $80,032 to 21 regional nonprofit agencies that serve a broad range of community needs, including the arts, community beautification, education, environment, health & human services and youth. Grants ranged from $624 to $9,400. Funded items ranged from capital projects such as paving, food shelving and HVAC units, to books for migrant children, pots & pans, mobile dental hygiene equipment and play therapy materials.

Click here to see the entire list of recipients. Newsletter, page 4

Hearts of Gold Gala Huge Success

Nearly 200 people attended the first Hearts of Gold Gala on November 11, at the Champaign Country Club. The group enjoyed the fabulous jazz and blues of the Mo' Betta Blues ensemble, laughed and socialized over a delicious dinner, and were moved and appreciative of the 2014 recipients of the Gloria Valenti Compassionate Care Awards and the Hearts of Gold Awards. They also gave standing ovation to Kyle & Phyllis Robeson as they accepted the first Kyle & Phyllis Robeson Philanthropy Award acknowledging their decades of innovation, service, generosity and dedication to the region.

Click here to see/download photos from the event

Urbana Establishes Legacy Tree Fund

Urbana’s trees are a source of shared pride in the greater Urbana community. With one of the most diverse urban forests in the Midwest, the city can claim trees that are historic, unique, rare and one-of-a-kind specimens. So it’s little wonder that Urbana is one of 13 charter Tree City USA communities in the United States.

The beloved Sim Hackberry tree, which stood at the northeast corner of west High Street and south Coler Avenue for more than 100 years, has been honored posthumously as Urbana's first Legacy Tree. It brought the community together to help celebrate, recognize and protect all of Urbana's trees.

Now anyone can help focus care and attention for the city’s most significant trees through the Legacy Tree Program, established by the Urbana City Council, by donating to the program.

Financial support from community tree advocates, will enable the City of Urbana to cover the cost of identification for all Legacy Trees as part of its natural inventory, feature them on a city-wide map accessible on the City website, produce plaques commemorating each Legacy Tree; develop a Legacy Tree locator app; and plant additional unique and indigenous trees.

Click here to learn more the Legacy Tree Program.

The Community Foundation is accepting donations to the fund. To donate, click on the Donate button and indicate your donation is for the Legacy Tree Fund.

Exemplary Healthcare Professional to be Named  
2014 Gloria Valenti Compassionate Care Awardee

The Gloria Valenti Compassionate Care Award was established in honor of Gloria Valenti, RN & President, Diversified Healthcare Services, and a leading healthcare professional in east central Illinois. 

This award was established through a bequest from Professor Martin Wagner, nationally recognized expert in labor relations who understood the importance of recognizing exemplary performance of workers in all fields. Due to the extraordinary and compassionate care he received in the last years of his life, he chose to honor those in the health care profession. 

The goal of the award is to recognize healthcare professionals who have consistently demonstrated both exemplary performance and compassion to their patients, families and coworkers. 

Appropriate candidates for recognition will have:
     Demonstrated recognition of the primacy of care and compassion in all interactions with patients, their families and coworkers;
     Skill in communicating important information, in listening attentively and in responding in a timely and clear manner;
     Demonstrated capacity to provide the best of professional care in a manner that generates hope and a sense of support; 
     A consistent history of treating patients and their families in a way that preserves their dignity, privacy and self-respect and that inspires trust. 

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois holds and manages the endowed fund to support this award and related programs.

2014 Heart of Gold Award Recipients to be named November 11 at Hearts of Gold Gala

Heart of Gold awards were developed to recognize the extraordinary everyday unsung heroes with hearts of gold and willing hands. They are the ones who consistently step up to help you when needed. Who in your world did you nominate for a HEART OF GOLD award?

People considered for this special award are neighbors, volunteers, business people, teachers, students, mentors -- anyone who has contributed significantly to enhancing the quality of life of others and/or the entire community in east central Illinois, including the counties of Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion.

The Community Foundation closed nominations at 5 pm, Friday, September 26. 

Heart of Gold recipients will be announced at the Hearts of Gold Gala, Tuesday, November 11 and the Champaign Country Club.

Gifford Gets $50,000 for New Water Tower Insurance Deductible

Joan Dixon, Community Foundation President & CEO, presented a $50,000 check to Gifford Mayor Derald Ackerman at the May Village Board meeting. The money will be used to pay the insurance deductible needed to replace the community's water tower damaged in the fall 2013 tornadoes.

The Community Foundation opened the Gifford Community Fund shortly after the disaster to fill future rebuilding needs not covered by insurance and other sources. The Marajen Stevick Foundation kick-started donations with a $25,000 matching grant challenge. The challenge was met!

Community Foundation Awards $55,500 in Marajen Stevick Foundation Grants

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois has awarded $55,500 in Marajen Stevick Foundation Grants to four area nonprofit organizations. The Stevick Foundation Grants offer annual funding for nonprofit organizations that provide services in the three areas of enhancing the lives of seniors, beautification of Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding area, and promoting excellence in reading and writing, as was the wish of Mrs. Stevick-Chinigo.

The Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club in Champaign was awarded $20,000 to help establish the “Summer Brain Gain” program, a structured and research-based curriculum that will provide a strong academic component to its summer day camp. The program aims to provide high-yield learning activities in a fun environment to help kids maintain and gain grade level skills in mathematics and reading over the summer.

Urbana Middle School was also awarded $20,000 to implement three new components to their after-school program, Students Playing and Learning Afterschool Hours (SPLASH). The SPLASH program began in 2005 was recognized by the Illinois Board of Education in 2013 as an Illinois School Spotlight program as an exemplary after-school program. Project Based Learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is an enrichment program that will engage students in finding real-world solutions to concrete issues and problems. The Reading and Writing Clinic is an intensive intervention course for students struggling with reading and writing. Academic Recapture will give students who are not progressing in their core classes the opportunity to work in small groups with a certified teacher helping them to complete core-class assignments and master skills.

Generations of Hope in Rantoul was awarded $13,000 for a handicapped-accessible patio and wheelchair-friendly walking path. These features will connect Hope House, a new handicapped-accessible senior housing unit within the Generations of Hope community, to a small pavilion and playground area. Hope House will be home to aging seniors in the Generations of Hope community when they require accessibility accommodations.

The Ebert Sculpture fund received $2,500 toward the construction of a sculpture of Roger Ebert seated in the middle of three theater seats and displaying his signature “thumbs up” gesture. The beautiful bronze sculpture will be permanently installed just east of the marquis of The Virginia Theatre, home to the nationally recognized annual Ebertfest film festival.

The Community Foundation administers the Marajen Stevick Foundation’s granting process, beginning in early February with a call for Letters of Intent (LOIs) from organizations that qualify for the grants. A Community Foundation selection committee reviews the ideas presented and seeks additional information as needed to fully understand the proposed projects. Awards are announced in the spring.

Ebert Sculpture Arrives for Ebertfest!

The bronze Roger Ebert Sculpture was delivered and unveiled on April 24 during Ebertfest to an appreciative audience of about 200 who gathered outside the theater which will be its permanent home. Scott and Donna Anderson who conceived of the sculpture and drove the effort to raise the $115,000 to fund the project emceed the event. Chaz Ebert spoke to the crowd and praised artist Rick Harney for creating a work of art that would please Roger very much.

The project included cooperation from the Public Art League, the Champaign Park District and the City of Champaign. The Community Foundation served as fiscal agent and cheerleader for the project. See more photos in Community Impact.

Almost $1,000,000 Distributed to Nonprofits in 2013!

Celebrate! Thank you donors and congratulations nonprofits that received portions of the $1,000,000 in Community Foundation distributions in 2013! That can do a lot of good to improve life in our area. To see a complete listing of the outstanding organizations that received support, see the copy of the News-Gazette ad that ran February 9 and 11, 2014. 2013 Distributions.pdf

Take Advantage of 2013 Charitable Tax Provisions

Fortunately, the predicted reduction or elimination of tax advantages for charitable contributions for 2013 did not occur. Donors can still make donations that benefit your community and the many nonprofit organizations that rely upon your support to help maintain vital services. The Community Foundation offers donors flexible options in both the types of gifts and the types of funds we offer. We work with you to make it easy for you to put your money where your heart is.

We have selected four articles that are excellent summaries of wise tax strategies and provisions advantageous for some donors, including the IRA Rollover which has been extended for 2013. Access all four articles with this link. 

Tax Tips 2013.pdf

Chaz Ebert Pledges $25,000 Match to Contributions

The Ebert Sculpture Project Committee has announced that Roger Ebert's wife, Chaz, has pledged to match up to $25,000 in donor contributions to the Ebert Sculpture Fund. Donors can double the impact of their donations. Donate now using the button above.

Two Ways to Help Our Gifford Neighbors

The Community Foundation has two ways you can help our neighbors in Gifford. The Stevick Foundation Matching Fund will match up to $25,000 of your donations to help the community. The Business Emergency Relief Fund will help business recover. Contributions can be sent to 307 W. University Ave., Champaign, IL 61820 and on-line donations can be made via the Donate button at the top of this web page. Please indicate the fund you wish to support.

Thanks for your continuing generosity.

Welcome to Our New Website

Welcome to our new website. This new format will help us tell the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois story and illustrate the impact of Community Foundation funding and support in helping nonprofit organizations and causes that improve the quality of life for residents.

Dixon Appointed to AG’s Charitable Trust Advisory Council

Joan Dixon, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, has been appointed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to serve on the state’s Charitable Trust Advisory Council.

The Charitable Trust Advisory Council was created to serve, study and advise the attorney general on issues regarding charitable giving, volunteerism and fundraising in the state of Illinois. The council is a permanent body composed of citizens selected by the Attorney General.

Of the 50 current members of the Council, Dixon is the only representative from east central Illinois and one of only seven members from outside the Chicago area. 

Thumbs Up for Ebert

The Ebert Sculpture Project Committee has been established to raise funds to commission a bronze sculpture of Roger Ebert, hometown boy and world’s most famous movie critic, sitting on a theater seat, showing his signature "thumbs up." The sculpture will be placed in the front of the Virginia Theatre, where the annual Ebertfest festival has taken place since 1999.

The Public Art League, which has brought a number of public-art sculptures to the area, will manage the Ebert sculpture project. Installation is targeted for the 2014 Ebertfest, from April 23 to 27. Ebert's wife, Chaz, is involved as well.

The committee is seeking gifts of any amount to make the memorial a reality. The estimated total cost is $122,500. Money raised in excess of what's needed for the sculpture and related costs will be given to the Roger Ebert Film Center at the UI, Ebertfest and the Virginia Theatre.

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois will handle donations. Online donations may be made via  People who want to mail checks should make them out to Community Foundation of East Central Illinois with "Ebert sculpture" designated in the memo line, and send them to Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, 307 W. University Ave., Champaign, IL 61820.

EIF Honors CFECI with Mission Impact Award

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank honored the Community Foundation as a member of the inaugural class of Mission Impact Award recipients.

As part of the Foodbank’s celebration of its 30th year providing food to families in east central Illinois, The Community Foundation was recognized for its longtime support. The Community Foundation presented a $40,000 check to the Foodbank in 2012 as part of its own 40th Anniversary celebration. The gift was made possible by the W. Barkclay and F.C. Brasch Endowment and will be used to alleviate hunger among the area’s senior citizens.

Scofield New Communications & Development Director

Edra Scofield brings significant marketing, communications and development experience to her new position. She was previously Vice President of Planning & Marketing for Carle Clinic Association and New Business Development Director for McKenzie Wagner marketing firm. A lifelong resident of Champaign County, she has actively supported a wide variety of non-profit organizations and agencies through her service on boards, committees and programs aimed at positive change. She previously served two terms on the Community Foundation Board.

Endowed funds are established through donor contributions both large and small.
Community Foundation of East Central Illinois 2013
307 W University Ave / Champaign, IL 61820 / 217.359.0125