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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Community Foundation Announces Over $100,000 in Grant Awards at Annual Meeting

KANKAKEE – The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley hosted a virtual Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 20 to announce their grant recipients for the spring grantmaking cycle.

Walter “Chip” Hasselbring, Board Chair of the Community Foundation, conducted the business portion of the meeting recognizing retiring board members Dale Gerretse, James Tungate and Lisa Wogan. Hasselbring presented the new slate of officers for 2021-2022 which were approved by the Board. They are incoming Chair Jeff Williamson, Past Chair Chip Hasselbring, Treasurer Jake Lee, and Secretary Nick Bufford. Hasselbring also gave an overview of the 2020 Financial Report stating that despite the pandemic the Community Foundation increased assets to $10.4 million and granted over $1.19 million in grants.

Executive Director Nicole Smolkovich highlighted some of the activities from the past year. The Community Foundation opened three new funds, partnered with the United Way to distribute over $600,000 in emergency grant funding to nonprofit organizations in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties, researched local nonprofits to learn about their needs, and launched a matching funds campaign for their Fine Arts Fund. Retired Executive Director Norm Strasma will be matching donations up to $50,000 through December 31, 2021 in memory of his late wife, Janice. “Arts and culture really enhance the values of living in a community like this,” said Strasma. “It’s important that we have that type of activity in our local area to make it more available to more people. Fine Arts are an important part of the community and it needs to have attention also.”  When the goal is met, the Community Foundation will be able to grant up to $5,000 a year to organizations in the Fine Arts. Fine Arts includes literature, music, architecture, sculpture, painting, performing arts, and film. If you would like to donate to this fund, you can donate online at www.cfkrv.org or mail a check to the Community Foundation at 701 S Harrison Ave, Kankakee, IL 60901.

Dr. Debra Baron, Project Director, presented some highlights on Project SUN, an initiative of the Community Foundation and funded through the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation. Despite the pandemic, approximately 60 individuals representing community stakeholders such as schools, agencies and parents and caregivers continued to work on building a children’s mental health system of care in Kankakee County. Some of the activities carried out by Project SUN were monthly Parent Café’s, a four-part youth engagement series called “Let’s Talk: Breaking the Silence” and held discussions around cultural competency to encourage participants to talk about personal experiences and societal changes. These discussions helped participants better understand racism’s toll on the mental health and well-being of not only children of color, but all people.

Nicole Smolkovich introduced area charitable recipient organizations that received over $75,000 in Communityworks grants to support their programs in areas of Early Childhood Education, Land Use & Protection and Workforce Development. They are:

BBCHS Ironclad Robotics $6,000

Bourbonnais Grove Historical Society $6,000

Catholic Charities $7,000

Central Citizen’s Library District $5,400

Child Network $2,000

Community Development Corp PHP $5,000

Harbor House $8,000

Herscher CUSD2 $2,500

iJag: Kankakee JAG $5,000

Iroquois County Youth Center $3,000

Kankakee Valley Forest Preserve District $2,200

Kennedy Middle School $7,000

Limestone Township Library District $2,000

Love A Latte Cafe $3,000

Pledge for Life Partnership $6,450

Youth For Christ City Life Center – Kankakee $5,000

Communityworks grants totaling $20,000 were also distributed to programs the Community Foundation supports such as Success by 6 – Kankakee, Success By 6 – Iroquois, the Riverfront Trailways, and programs focused on workforce development.

The Community Foundation also awarded two Rosie Fund Grants to Harbor House and The Salvation Army totaling $3,154.

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