The Oak Park and River Forest Community Foundation is half way to its goal of raising $2 million for its community endowment, an amount that, if accomplished, will be doubled by the Grand Victoria Foundation based in Elgin.

Oak Park’s foundation is looking to raise money for its Communityworks Endowment. Grand Victoria, a foundation linked to the gambling enterprise, will match every dollar that’s given up to $2 million. The Oak Park foundation has already received about $2 million from Grand Victoria, including an earlier matching grant of $500,000 from the Elgin group. In all, the organization will have a total of $6 million to use as grant opportunities for local nonprofits in the two villages.

The Oak Park organization has raised more than $930,000 so far. It has until Sept. 30, 2011 to reach $2 million. The foundation provides grants covering everything from environmental sustainability efforts to educational programs for kids.

Sophia Lloyd, executive director of the OP&RF Foundation, told Wednesday Journal that this latest campaign will help her organization increase its grant opportunities for such groups.

The Communityworks Endowment itself began in the early 2000s as a grant offered by Grand Victoria to nonprofits in Illinois looking to improve their communities. The Oak Park foundation has in turn awarded grants to such groups as Sarah’s Inn and The Oak Park Food Pantry.

Having a permanent endowment has been especially helpful during this recent downturn in the economy, Lloyd said.

In related news, the Community Foundation will host its 2010 Grants Breakfast on Friday at The Oak Park Country Club in River Grove. Grants will be awarded to nonprofits from Oak Park and River Forest. Henry Kranz, the foundation’s marketing director, said the breakfast, which normally takes place in October, was moved to this Friday to coincide with National Community Foundation Week. It runs through Nov. 18. Approximately $20,000 in grants will be awarded at Friday’s breakfast.

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