March 2024 News & Updates

Dear Friends,

This past week, the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley said thank you to Austin Dempsey for his service to the Foundation as Chair of the Board of Directors for the past two years. Austin led the Foundation through the celebration of its 75th Anniversary and has made many wonderful connections for the Foundation throughout his nine years on the Board. When Jeff Cali was voted in and Austin handed over the gavel, it was amazing to look around the room and see four other past chairs of the Board in the room (see picture below). We are grateful for the continued support of the past chairs and their dedication to the Community Foundation. We are excited about the Foundation’s future under the leadership of Jeff Cali and grateful for all members of our Board of Directors.

March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the seventy-five years of the Community Foundation, we have seen many women step forward as leaders of the Foundation, and we recognize Sharon Stredde for her leadership as the President and CEO from 1985 to 2015 and Ruby Frank for serving as the first female Chair of the Board of Directors in 1992, and for all the women who have served on our Board of Directors, including our current board members: Jessica Breugelmans, Kathryn Birkett, Joyce A. Hemphill, Mariana Martinez, Cheryl Vonhoff, and Wendy White Eagle serving as current members of our Board of Directors.

Thank you to all the women in our community for all they do to make our community thrive, and we honor those who have come before us for their sacrifice and dedication to making our community a better place.


Julie Christman

President & CEO

Connecting people who care with causes that matter.

2024 Annual Meeting of Members

The Community Foundation hosted its 76th Annual Meeting of Members on Wednesday, March 20, at Aurora University. We always enjoy the opportunity to connect with friends of the Foundation and share updates on the past year, as well as our goals for the next year.

Congratulations to Jeff Cali, who will serve as our new Board Chair, and to Stan Free, who will serve as Vice-Chair. A big thank you to Austin Dempsey for serving as the Community Foundation's Board Chair since 2022.

Pictured here are several of our past Board Chairs from left to right: Scott Voris, Neal Ormond, Austin Dempsey, Mark Truemper, new chair Jeff Cali, and Bob Hubbard.(Photo by Tom King.)

Welcome Rosie!

Please join us in welcoming our newest team member, Rosie Montgomery! Rosie joins us with over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit industry and will be the Community Foundation's Executive Assistant.

"I am thrilled to join the Foundation! The mission of philanthropy within the community is something for which I have a great deal of passion. Having been the recipient of a scholarship while attending high school, I experienced firsthand the positive impact of other's generosity and the true blessing it can bring to a family."

Quad County Urban League's Women's Empowerment Summit

The Quad County Urban League's Annual Women's Empowerment Summit was held on Friday, March 15, in Oak Brook, Illinois.As we celebrate Women's History Month, we are thrilled to congratulate two Community Foundation females who were recently honored at the Summit.

Congratulations to Wendy White Eagle, a Community Foundation Board Member, who received a "Women of Power" award. Wendy was a panelist in the Innovate Session: Empowering Entrepreneurial Success Through Creative Solutions and did a wonderful job.

Congratulations to Jenny Osei-Kofi, a Youth Engagement in Philanthropy (YEP) Member, who received the "Empower HER Award" and did a fabulous job as a panelist in the Youth Empowerment Session on inclusion and diversity in schools.

Youth Engagement in Philanthropy (YEP) in Action!

Thank you, Northern Illinois Food Bank, for having our YEP members last night. They learned a lot and were so happy to be able to help fill 819 bags with sweet potatoes. They packed 4,095 pounds of food that will provide 3,412 meals!

Do you know a high school student interested in making a difference in their community? We are currently accepting applications for YEP's 2024-2025 program. Membership applications are due by April 15. Visit our website for more information.

Scholarship Spotlight:

Leo, Annette, and Abby Laughlin Scholarship Fund

"All three of us graduated from West Aurora High School, and Leo and I are both alumni of Northern Illinois University. When Leo was in school, he received the Colonel Sidney Ginsberg Scholarship through the Community Foundation, which helped fund his education at NIU. He remains grateful for that opportunity and wanted to find a way to pay it forward.

In 2023, our family established the Leo, Annette, and Abby Laughlin Scholarship Fund as a way of making higher education possible for students who need financial assistance. Our scholarship will provide full tuition to a West Aurora High School graduate who will continue their education at Northern Illinois University. We support the Community Foundation's mission to help make higher education/training possible for students who need financial assistance," Annette Laughlin shared.

Left to Right: Abby, Leo, and Annette Laughlin

For more information on the Leo, Annette, and Abby Laughlin Scholarship Fund, please visit their fund profile page.

YEP Alumni Jackson Dowell on Philanthropy

The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley

YEP Alumni Jackson Dowell talks about her experience in YEP, learning what philanthropy is and how rewarding it was to help other youth in the community.

"It's really rewarding as a youth to help other youth and it makes me feel proud of myself. It really changed me as a person and made me see that there's different ways to help people and I really appreciated having that opportunity."

Video credit: Sidekick Media.

Charitable Giving: Designated Endowment Funds

Designated Endowment Funds are ideal for individuals or families who seek to create a legacy of financial support for causes or nonprofit organizations that matter to them. 

How it works:

  • Identify an organization that you wish to help.
  • A designated fund is established.
  • Donor receives tax benefits.
  • A grant will be issued annually to the designated non-profit organization.

The Community Foundation handles all the administrative details, including managing specific qualifications that you may establish for grant distributions. If the organization you select ceases to exist or changes its mission, the fund can be redirected so that it continues to address your charitable intent. If you would like to discuss the benefits of a designated fund in greater detail, please contact Rachel Gundersen.

Estate Planning Seminar on April 25

Upcoming Dates and Deadlines

March 31 - Deadline for Spring Discretionary LOI

April 15 - YEP Membership Application Closes

April 17 - Better Together Grant Workshop

April 25 - Estate Planning Seminar

May 1 - Spring Grant Application Deadline

May 15 - Better Together Letter of Intent Deadline

Learn more about what the Foundation is doing.
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