The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation is pausing its Community Grants program for one year in order to evaluate and revise its grant-making operations to align with its enhanced mission.
The pause affects only the foundation’s Community Grants program. Donor-advised funds, scholarships and enrichment grants, the Russell & Josephine Kott Charitable Memorial Trust, and giving groups, will continue to operate and distribute funding. More than $4 million is awarded by these funds and groups each year.
The Community Grants program is a process through which nonprofit organizations apply for funding to support general operations or specific needs. This pause means there will be no community grant applications or disbursements made for 2023. The program will restart in the summer of 2024 with a new process designed to advance a more racially just society and more equitable outcomes for residents in Oak Park, River Forest and surrounding communities.
This decision is based on the work conducted by the foundation staff and board over the past three years, learning and listening and gathering perspectives from those in our community whose voices are not always heard. These conversations informed the top priorities outlined in the landmark Community Voices report the foundation released last year.
While community grants are an important resource for nonprofits, the program represents just a portion of our overall work and impact in the region. The funds that would normally be disbursed through the Community Grants program are invested, and will be made available when the program resumes in 2024 — effectively doubling the available funds for even greater impact.
The foundation’s staff is available to meet with donors to answer questions and offer philanthropic advice, and will continue to offer other important support and services, such as capacity-building programs, to its nonprofit partners and other constituents.
Over the course of its 60-plus-year history, the foundation has evolved to reflect the changing needs and priorities of the communities it serves. Today we are at another inflection point in our evolution, and this pause will allow us time to reflect and recalibrate to truly address racial equity and how our community wishes to move forward.
The foundation will be sharing its progress throughout the year. To ensure you’re receiving all the foundation’s latest news or for any questions, please contact Program Director Elizabeth Chadri, at email@example.com.
We appreciate your understanding and continuing support for the foundation at this pivotal time.
Antonio Martinez Jr.
President & CEO
OP-RF Community Foundation