Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation was recently awarded the 2015 Outstanding Leadership in Community and Economic Development Award by East Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation at the organization’s 31st Annual Celebration Awards Banquet held on May 21, 2015 at the Thelma Keller Convention Center. Brian Titus, current board chair and Joedy Hightower, President and CEO, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. The nomination was submitted by Jim Schultz, founding board member of the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation and the newly appointed Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.
The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation and its regional affiliate community foundations continuously seek to promote the standard of living and economic health in communities in Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Lawrence, Jasper, Richland, and Shelby Counties. The organization’s mission is “Cultivating Philanthropy to Build Better Communities.” Local issues in education, youth development, healthcare, arts and culture, workforce and economic development, and the environment are addressed through the foundation’s philanthropic work with individuals, families, corporations and other nonprofit organizations. The regional community foundation is among those recognized nationwide as attaining the highest standards of practice, certified as in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ National Standards for Community Foundations.
Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation has a rich history of growth beginning in 1980 with the establishment of the Mattoon Area Community Foundation and the Effingham County Community Foundation in 1999. The subsequent merger of the two founding organizations in 2009 set in motion a regional scale operation equipped to serve donors and non-profit organizations in 11 southeastern Illinois counties. In July 2012, the next chapter of growth began with the establishment of the Jasper County Community Foundation and the Crawford County Community Foundation in 2015.
The following are examples of the impact the community foundation is making in the region:
- Following the merger of Mattoon and Effingham, total charitable assets under management has grown from $4 million in 2009 to over $18 in 2015.
- Since 2009, SICF has reinvested over $3 million into the region in the form of grants, scholarships, and financial support of non-profit organizations and community economic development efforts.
- In December 2012, the community foundation facilitated a $6 million gift from a local donor and coordinated the $3 million community campaign to raise funds to build the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Complex, a $13.5 million facility in Effingham scheduled to open later this year. Other examples of funds directed toward economic development managed by the community foundation include: CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) operating funds in Effingham, Coles, Jasper and Crawford counties. These transformational classes provide outstanding education to high school students and encourage young people to return to their hometowns to live and work as adults;
The regional foundation model continues to demonstrate that small rural communities working together can accomplish more than they can separately.