Big News! - We made the September 30th deadline for Grand Victoria Foundation's $2 million matching challenge!
With the help of an anonymous donor who provided an additional match for many gifts in the closing weeks, we even exceeded the goal by approximately $44,000! Our deepest thanks to the 170 members of our extraordinary community of donors who made gifts ranging from $20 to $1 million to take part in this historic achievement.
Every child ready for kindergarten, Every youth ready for work
The Evanston Community Foundation launched an impact plan in 2007 to address the connections between the first three years of life and outcomes for young people as they leave high school. Our plan, Every child ready for kindergarten, Every youth ready for work, addresses key community concerns identified in years of listening, research, and consulting.
We undertook this process of exploration within a project called Communityworks, a statewide initiative begun in 2003 by the Grand Victoria Foundation, in which eighteen community foundations agreed to examine local quality of life through the lens of issues including early childhood education and workforce development.
Our goal is that all Evanston children will enter kindergarten ready to learn. We are targeting the achievement gap where it begins: in the earliest months and years of life. Our principal strategy is high-quality home visiting by trained professionals who offer support to young parents whose economic status places their children at high risk of entering kindergarten with lower vocabularies, undiagnosed developmental delays, and behavioral issues. This is a long-term project, a purpose well-suited to a growing endowment.
In 2008, Grand Victoria Foundation challenged Evanston to raise $2 million for an endowment to support our approach. And they promised a 1:1 match for every qualified dollar donated. By the September 30, 2011 deadline, we had met and excceeded this challenge.
What will our investments do for Evanston?
Evanston's schools, like those in many other communities, are characterized by stark contrasts in student achievement between low-income (frequently minority) students and their higher-income peers.
Researchers tell us that achievement gaps begin long before kindergarten. Early nurturing, learning experiences and health during the first years of life greatly impact their school and life success. Families play a vital role.
Early investment in the birth-to-three years can level the playing field for children in our schools and make a profound difference in lives as adults.
The Evanston Community Foundation is making these investments in several ways:
We have asked for your investment because:
The work is critical: Research shows that these simple things in the first 36 months make a lifelong difference in the lives of the adults that these babies become. Economists estimate the societal return of such investments at 8 to 10% each year for every dollar invested!
It's making a difference: Parental stress levels in our pilot households are declining, and that's good for children. Retention rates are strong, too: despite financial and housing uncertainties, more than 60% of families continue to be engaged with their home visitors from one year to the next.
The Foundation is committed: From 2009 to 2011, as state funding declined, the Foundation has NOT cut back its grants. This year, in fact, we increased Every child grants by 9%. Our more flexible funds empower professionals in their work. For example, an extra ECF grant of $6,000 this year is reversing the impact of state cuts and maintaining services by an infant mental health consultant.
Completing the challenge will expand today's program and make it self-sustaining: An endowment of $6 million will support annual expenditures of nearly $300,000 by 2015, allowing us to add resources to meet families' needs and to assess the impact of the project. We look forward to investing in the Every youth side of our change intiative (job readiness and workforce development) as resources allow.
This is the time and the place to make a difference.
The Foundation has demonstrated a strong capacity to preserve capital in recent down markets and to achieve average annual total returns (9.5% since 1988) that exceed our target spending rate of 5%. Expressed in different terms, a gift of $100,000 in 1988 would have funded $216,980 in grants by the end of 2010 and left in place $261,420 as a reservoir for Evanston's future.
Even beyond the Grand Victoria Foundation challenge, we welcome your contribution to this initiative - or to any of our endowed funds for general grantmaking or various fields of interest.
Please contact us today about making your gift directly (click here to give online) or via a transfer of securities.
Sara Schastok, President and CEO
Evanston Community Foundation
1007 Church Street, Suite 108
Evanston, IL 60201
847.492.0990 or via email
Communityworks Advisory Committee
Paul. J. Finnegan, Chair
Joseph P. Flanagan
Susan Munro, Every child Network Facilitator
Marybeth Schroeder, Senior Program Officer
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