Evanston Community Foundation to award $5,000 to 5 local organizations

Kelly Hwu

The Evanston Community Foundation will mark its 25th anniversary by awarding local nonprofit groups $25,000 in grant money.

The program is called Evanston Nonprofits Develop Organizational Wealth Now, or ENDOW NOW, and will distribute $5,000 to five different organizations in Evanston.

“We think there is no better expression of our mission than to encourage the formation of permanent funds to enhance the future of five organizations whose ongoing vitality is important to Evanston,” Sarah Schastok, president and chief executive officer of the organization, said in a news release issued Monday.

The grants are intended to help groups serving Evanston build upon their work for the community. Local organizations may apply if they can prove a strong history of organizational stability and sustainability and do not already have an endowment fund with the ECF.

The foundation will award $5,000 to each organization, which in turn will be required to independently raise an additional $15,000.

The grant money comes from ECF’s unrestricted funds, consisting of contributions and returns from investments. The organization has an established investment committee pool, with an average annual return of 9.5 percent over the last 25 years.

“The Evanston Community Foundation is a story of endowment growth,” said Jeremy Barrows, the foundation’s director of development and communication. “We went essentially from nothing to a $15 million endowment base, and we believe the funds can deliver benefits to grow the Evanston community.”

The Youth Job Center of Evanston, a nonprofit that provides employment-related services for disadvantaged and at-risk youth, has not established an endowment fund during its 30 years of operation. Development Director Kim Hoopingarner said while the Center does not currently have plans to apply, the benefits of a program like ENDOW NOW could allow the organization to focus on its message rather than its funding.

“The advantage of an endowment program is that it gives a nonprofit organization a little more credibility,” Hoopingarner said. “It allows us to invest in the future, and it gives our organization more depth.”

Hoopingarner said nonprofits often face fundraising difficulties, but her main concern is communicating her organization’s mission.

“Every nonprofit’s message is good, so it’s hard to have people listen to you,” she said.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through Sept. 28 or until all funds have been distributed.

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