account login   donate now2

What We Heard

word cloud

All of the needs represented in this “word cloud” intersect and interrelate in a person’s daily life. This interconnectedness was clearly evident in our conversations with focus group participants, who often described multiple issues woven together, as you’ll read in their own words in the report.

These needs all result from systems of discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, class, and other factors, which most drastically affect marginalized or at-risk community members. Of these, race is the overwhelming, overarching determinant for access to education, healthcare, wealth, and stability. Data supports what we heard. And potential solutions may be as intertwined as the issues we seek to address.


  "Making real change requires real community engagement, and it needs to be built by connecting with the people first."
— Austin resident & organizer

The Community Voices report is the culmination of two years of work by the Foundation’s board and staff, in collaboration with a range of organizations and community members based on mutually trusting relationships, to determine priorities where the Foundation could make the greatest impact in order for all members of our community to thrive and prosper. The Foundation met with community members throughout the west Cook County region to learn more about the challenges we face and the opportunities to help each other, and conducted in-depth data research and analysis to support the four key priority areas and solutions these valued community members shared with us. Those priority areas are:

  • Educational Opportunities
  • Health Care
  • Wealth Equality
  • Safety, Belonging & Stability

We believe the Community Voices Report will be of great value not just for the Foundation and nonprofit sector, but for local government, schools and the community at large. Together we will identify holistic solutions – including philanthropic resources – which will offer greater engagement and benefit to our community’s most vulnerable residents, and will address the socio-economic and racial disparities keeping each individual from living a fulfilled life.


The Work Continues

Since the release of the report, the Foundation has hosted public forums and shared the report’s findings with local and regional governments, charitable organizations and other stakeholders. We have also met with community leaders to present the report as a framework for future efforts toward racial equity.

The Foundation is looking inward as well. We have been actively reviewing our investment strategy, hiring practices and grant processes to make them more equitable. In the near future, the Foundation will be shifting its grantmaking process to a participatory model — working to evaluate and develop new systems, and establishing an oversight committee made up of members of our board of directors as well as residents who were involved in the Community Voices focus groups.

Questions or comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


1049 Lake Street, Suite 204
Oak Park, IL 60301


 By phone:          Office visit:
 M - F    T, W, Th
 9 am - 5 pm    9 am - 5 pm

On Mondays and Fridays, staff may be working remotely. Please make an appointment in advance or call ahead to verify that someone is available to receive you.

OPRF Chamber of Commerce 
Proud member of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce

Community Accredited Foundation  AICF Logo
Confirmed in Compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations