Area Community Foundation celebrates eight-year Illinois CommunityWorks initiative

Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation President and CEO Joedy Hightower and Effingham County Community Foundation board member, Joy Kirby, attended a two-day event sponsored by the Grant Victoria Foundation held in Chicago, October 6 - 7, to celebrate the achievements of the Communityworks partnership.

The Grand Victoria Foundation, Elgin, Illinois, formed the Communityworks partnership in 2004 to work with organizations that strive to strengthen educational opportunities for children and adults, boost the economic vitality of neighborhoods, cities, and regions, and restore and preserve the health of our environment. The Communityworks leadership initiative partners with 18 community foundations in Illinois, including the Effingham County Community Foundation and the Mattoon Area Community Foundation.

“Thanks to the opportunities made available by the Grant Victoria Foundation and the Communityworks partnership, both the Effingham County Community Foundation and the Mattoon Area Community Foundation have grant-making resources to support local, meaningful programs that make a difference,” says Hightower.

The Effingham County Community Foundation and the Mattoon Area Community Foundation participated in the Communityworks project as equal partners, sharing the operating and matching grants equally. Prior to July 1, 2003 and the start of Communityworks, the total endowed financial assets of Effingham and Mattoon foundations were $240,000. That amount has grown to a total of $3.8 in endowed assets as of September 30, 2011. Total of all permanent and non-permanent assets of the two foundations are well over $6 million.

Over the course of the eight-year Communityworks program, Effingham and Mattoon each established a permanent Communityworks Endowment Fund to provide funds to address local issues concerns early childhood care and education, workforce development, and land use and protection. These two funds now have assets totaling over $430,000. Since 2009, Effingham Communityworks grants total $91,500 and Mattoon Communityworks grants total $36,200.

The Mattoon Area Community Foundation will be implementing their first competitive grant cycle in 2012 for their Communityworks Endowment Fund. Grants will be awarded to qualified area programs that support early childhood education, workforce development, and land use and protection. The Effingham County Community Foundation has already implemented their program and will accept applications in the spring of 2012.

In addition to building the Communityworks Endowment Funds, the two foundations established their own operating endowments with assets totaling nearly $400,000.

The statewide results of Communityworks are equally astounding. Total endowed assets among the 14 community foundation partners before Communityworks was only $61 million. Today, total endowed assets among the partners are over $247 million.

Over the last eight years, statewide community foundation investment in workforce development issues was $3.5 million; early childhood care and education was $3.7 million and land use and protection was $1.2 million. Total statewide permanently restricted assets to address the issues areas in the future are well over $30 billion.

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