FREEPORT — Due to a partnership with the Freeport Community Foundation (FCF) and the United Way of Northwest Illinois, several local nonprofits were able to receive money through the Northwest Illinois COVID-19 response Fund.


In all, 30 nonprofits were part of $205,000 grants money in Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The emergency needs grants awarded include funding for 10 northwest Illinois organizations offering assorted COVID-19 emergency needs support programs to area residents impacted by the pandemic; nine support emergency food distributions in the region; four assists with emergency childcare programming; four support short-term economic stimulus projects, and three emergency nonprofit operational assistances related to COVID-19 losses.


Michelle DeHaven, executive director of the FCF, said she reached out to Connie Kraft, executive director for United Way of Northwest Illinois to partner to apply for the grants. The two nonprofits reached out to the nonprofits to notify them of the funds available during this time of need. A special committee was formed to review applications. Thirty met the specified COVID-19 related requirements.


DeHaven said she and Kraft were both happy to know that the partnership between the two organizations is able to make a difference in how these nonprofits are able to survive during the COVID-19 crisis.


“For me, personally, it has been equally humbling and inspiring,” DeHaven said. “Humbling in the sense that the need is so incredibly great, and because of the sincere gratitude received from our grantees. Nothing brings this home like a photo from children of essential workers in a daycare, faces beaming with smiles, holding a homemade ‘Thank You’ sign, and additionally, I found the cooperative, collaborative work of the organizing agencies — Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, United Way of Illinois and the Office of Governor JB Pritzker extremely inspiring.”


She adds, “This process went from a series of exploratory, ‘what if’ emails to fruition in less than a month. If ever there was a time for that type of cooperation and collaboration and not one-sided thinking, it is now. For me, personally, to actually play a small role in the execution of a statewide program like this, benefiting the residents most severely impacted by this mounting COVID-19 crisis, it is beyond words.”


United Way of Northwest Illinois Board President Ryan Stodden added, "Everyone in our community is experiencing unique challenges presented by COVID-19. Our goal with this funding has been to assist affected individuals by providing for basic necessities, aiding those organizations that care for the most vulnerable individuals, and supporting local businesses."


The Freeport Community Foundation originally became aware of the potential Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund grant monies through the organization's involvement in the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations (AICF). The FCF reached out to the UWNWIL about partnering for the grant application process and sharing distribution of the funds. The NWIL COVID-19 Response Fund was one of 30 Illinois Community Foundations and United Ways to share in $5.5 million of first-round ICRF grant funds on April 8. There are to be multiple rounds of ICRF grant funding aimed at addressing needs as they evolve. The FCF is also leaving the door open to a possible second-round of COVID-19 response funding in late summer/early fall, based on regional need and recovery.


United Way of Northwest Illinois Board President Ryan Stodden added, "Everyone in our community is experiencing unique challenges presented by COVID-19. Our goal with this funding has been to assist affected individuals by providing for basic necessities, aiding those organizations that care for the most vulnerable individuals, and supporting local businesses."


NWIL COVID-19 Response Fund monies distributed through the United Way of Northwest Illinois include:


• $30,000 to Jo-Carroll Energy NFP for their Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Program


• $10,000 to Amity Society of Freeport for Emergency Childcare Assistance


• $10,000 to Family YMCA of Northwest Illinois for Emergency Childcare Assistance


• $10,000 to VOICES of Stephenson County for Emergency Pandemic Support Services


• $7,500 to Senior Resource Center for Safety Net Services for Seniors


• $5,000 to The Workshop - Galena for Emergency Community Support


• $5,000 to Galena Order of Elks #882 for Jo Daviess County Food Pantry Emergency Support


• $5,000 to The Salvation Army - Freeport for Freeport COVID-19 Response


• $5,000 to Riverview Center for COVID-19 Sexual Assault & DV Crisis Response Program


• $4,000 to Boys & Girls Club of Freeport & Stephenson County for their Grab & Go Child Nutrition program


• $4,000 to Hearts That Care, Inc. of Freeport for Family Food Assistance


• $2,500 to Elizabeth Food Basket, Inc. for Family Food Assistance


• $2,500 to Faith Community Food Pantry for Faith Community Food Pantry


• $2,500 to Hanover United Presbyterian Church Pantry for Family Food Assistance


• $2,000 to RAMP for Emergency Services for Individuals with Disabilities


The funds supporting these grants include $100,000 awarded to the agency partnership from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (ICRF) and an additional $5,000 awarded to the United Way of Northwest Illinois from private donations.


The additional $100,000 in NWIL COVID-19 Response Fund emergency relief funding comes from the Freeport Community Foundation's Community Needs/Matt Marvin Unrestricted Fund:


• $15,000 to New Horizons Counseling Center, Freeport for Emergency Care Reduced Fee Program


• $15,000 to Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC) for Emergency Food Pantry Support


• $10,000 to Northern Illinois Food Bank for Food Acquisition and Distribution


• $10,000 to Midwest Medical Center, Galena for COVID-19 Operational Fund Support


• $10,000 to Greater Freeport Partnership for Small Business Economic Stimulus Program


• $6,000 to Mother Hubbard's Kiddie Cupboard for Emergency Family Relief


• $6,000 to Northern Illinois Community Action Agency for NICAA Golden Meals Senior Support


• $5,000 to CONTACT of Northern Illinois for COVID-19 Crisis Helpline and Referral support


• $5,000 to Galena Area Chamber of Commerce for COVID-19 Business & Community Project


• $4,500 to The Rosecrance Foundation for Distance Counseling Operating Support


• $4,000 to Timberlake Playhouse for Emergency Operational Support


• $3,000 to Public Health Foundation of Northern Illinois for Community Mask Project


• $2,500 to Children's Hands-On Museum of Northwest Illinois for Emergency Operating Support


• $2,000 to Lena Area Historical Society for LBPA Stimulus and Resident Assistance


• $2,000 to Stockton Chamber of Commerce for Small Business Economic Stimulus Program


"I feel proud of the thought, time, and hard work that both organizations have put into this matter to get critical funding into the hands of the non-profits in our region," said FCF President Brad Stewart. "Additionally, I cannot say enough about the efforts of both the FCF and United Way staff. Without their teamwork, and without the FCF securing a seat at the table through our relationship with the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, I do not think this much-needed financial support would have come to fruition for northwest Illinois."


Jane Lethlean; jlethlean1210@gmail.com; @DOGWMN2