In 2005, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation was one of eighteen initial foundations in Illinois to be chosen for a Communityworks grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation.
Phase I of Communityworks provided general operating support allowing the Community Foundation to add staff, share knowledge through a learning network, and gain expertise in community problem solving. Additionally, Phase I established our endowment fund for Communityworks. Phase II required the Community Foundation to raise $225,000 for the new fund, which was matched dollar for dollar by the Grand Victoria Foundation. Area donors rose to the challenge, exceeding the goal and strengthening the Communityworks Endowment Fund.
In 2008, the Foundation received another challenge match from the Grand Victoria Foundation. The Community Foundation raised $2 million in contributions from area donors which was matched dollar for dollar by the Grand Victoria Foundation increasing the Communityworks endowment fund to $4.5 million.
Communityworks is both an Advisory Board of members who lead community institutions and an Endowed Fund of financial resources to provide grants to organizations and institutions whose efforts further the vision of a sustainable community in select priority areas.
The overall purpose of Communityworks is to provide a coordinated, systems-based approach towards the achievement of community aspirations. By building a sustainable framework, Communityworks supports the long-term health and vibrancy of the Oak Park and River Forest communities.
Communityworks is advised by a board comprised of institutional and civic leaders. With their guidance the Communityworks Endowment Fund provides grants to organizations and institutions whose efforts further the Board’s vision of a sustainable community in select focus areas. Presently, these areas are: environmental sustainability community leadership development and success of all youth. The Fund supports the environmental sustainability plan for both Villages (PlanItGreen), Leadership Lab at the Foundation and Success of All Youth, a community collaborative empowering every youth in our community to reach his or her full potential.
- Create systemic change in selected priority areas.
- Build and sustain an endowment to provide a permanent source of funding.
- Leverage an expanded number and quantity of resources
- Develop and demonstrate outcome based measurements to evaluate community impact for each priority area.
- Increase community awareness of selected priority areas through education.
- Increase community engagement and capacity to address selected priority areas.
- Enhance cross-sector collaborations.
- Support a responsive and sustainable community that is able to adjust to emerging needs in the community.
Role of the Advisory Board
The Communityworks Advisory Board is responsible for overall fiduciary oversight and direction setting of Communityworks priority areas; the performance and effectiveness of the priority areas; and for maintaining alignment of grant distribution with the overall purpose of Communityworks. The Communityworks Advisory Board holds itself accountable and in service to the Oak Park-River Forest community.
The Communityworks Advisory Board determines priority areas and also sets annual goals and granting target areas for each. The Communityworks Advisory Board manages the grant process, selects grant recipients for the Community Foundation Board to ratify, and monitors the performance of the priority areas.
Current Advisory Board Co-Chairs: Denise Burns and Jan Arnold
Current Advisory Board members include:
- Anan Abu-Taleb
Mayor, Village of Oak Park
- Catherine Adduci
President, Village of River Forest
- Jan Arnold
Executive Director, Park District
of Oak Park
- John Borrero
Collaboration for Early Childhood
- Denise Burns
Board Member, OP-RF Community Foundation
- Dr. Donna Carroll
President, Dominican University
- Ed Condon
Superintendent, River Forest District 90
- Dr. Russell P. Dawn
President, Concordia University
- Lisa DeVivo
Executive Director, Community Mental Health Board, Oak Park Township
- Bruce Elegant
CEO/President, Rush Oak Park Hospital
- Liz Holt
Executive Director, OPRF Chamber of Commerce
- Phillip Jiménez
President & CEO, West Cook YMCA
- Clarmarie Keenan
Supervisor, Oak Park Township
- Dr. Carol Kelley
Superintendent, Oak Park District 97
- Tony Martinez
President & CEO, OP-RF Community Foundation
- Mary-Rita Moore
President, Triton College
- Donna Myers
Board Chair, OP-RF Community Foundation
- Claire Noonan
President , Community of Congregations
- Joe Ottolino
CEO/President, West Suburban Medical Center
- Eric Palm
Village Administrator, Village of River Forest
- Cara Pavilicek
Village Manager, Village of Oak Park
- Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams
Superintendent, Oak Park District 200
- Wendell Rayburn
Board Member, OP-RF Community Foundation
- Mary Jo Schuler
President , Good Heart Work Smart Foundation
- Michael J. Sletten
Executive Director, River Forest Park District
- Carla Sloan
Supervisor, River Forest Township Supervisor