Concordia University and the River Forest Public Library are the initial recipients of a dozen planned matching grants from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.

The matching grants, part of the Foundation’s Making a Good Gift Better Program, were formally presented to the two institutions during a ceremony Tuesday at the River Forest Public Library.

Jim Winikates, past president of the board of the Foundation and a River Forest resident, was expected to present certificates of achievement for the dollar-for-dollar match valued at $20,000 each Tuesday after press time.

“We are very excited to be able to offer these matching funds to double the return on the investments made in our community,” Winikates said in a statement. “Creating and building an endowment allows agencies to attract planned gifts and provides a constant and predictable revenue stream.”

The Community Foundation established the program last September. Under the program, local organizations that establish a new endowment fund or add to an existing fund at the Community Foundation become eligible to receive up to $25,000 in matching grants. Altogether the Community Foundation will have matched up to $250,000 in resources assembled from the community to help build permanent endowments that benefit the organizations and the work they do.

“The Community Foundation partners with local nonprofit agencies in many ways to help them build their capacity to serve the residents of our community,” Winikates said. And the institutions benefiting from the first two grants have done just that.

The River Forest Library established the “Dr. Edwin & Mary Liebner River Forest Public Library Endowment Fund,” so named in honor of two longtime library volunteers. Mary Leibner is the president of Friends of the Library. The $21,260 that was raised in July will now be bolstered by the $20,000 from the Community Foundation and used to supplement the library’s general fund as needed.

River Forest Library Executive Director Dawn Bussey said the library board has been talking about fundraising since she was hired two years ago, but the group hadn’t taken any action prior to establishing the endowment fund. She called the matching grant “a fantastic way to start an endowment,” saying, “It was exactly what we needed to get started. It’ll be the first of many fundraising efforts.”

Concordia University’s fund, the “Concordia University Community Scholarship for Learning and Leadership,” will provide need-based scholarships to Oak Park or River Forest residents who are full-time undergraduate or graduate students. With the Community Foundation’s matching grant, the scholarship fund is now $40,000.

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