Community Foundation a New Bridge in Grundy County

Hopefully you’ve heard by now that the Morris Community Foundation has officially changed its name to the Community Foundation of Grundy County.


When the Community Foundation started in 1999, the board was focused mostly on Morris.  We reclaimed the old Com Ed property along the canal and donated it to the City of Morris for Canal Port Park where the packet boat now sits.  We also bought the old Rock Island property in downtown Morris that is now the home of the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Park.


However, life at the Community Foundation changed drastically in 2003 when we were selected by the Grand Victoria Foundation as a partner in their new “CommunityWorks” initiative.


For five years we have been convening meetings with key leaders and partners in the areas of early childhood care & education, workforce development, and land use & protection to determine how we can use the CommunityWorks Endowment to make an impact in these three issues.


As we proceeded with our grantmaking, we came to realize that the grants that we give and the conversations that we have are for the betterment of all of Grundy County, therefore we made the decision to change our name to the Community Foundation of Grundy County.


The name change also emphasizes that we are a community foundation to better help tell the story of our uniqueness and what makes us different from our fellow not-for-profits.


With the name change also comes a new motto and logo: “Bridging people who care with causes that matter.”  Our new logo is a sketch of the Five-Mile Bridge on the I&M Canal on the western side of the county.


Our new motto reflects our work – we are here to bring people together to address issues that are important to our county.  We rally local resources, money, and talent to develop and implement programs that are right for our county.


We are also proud of the fact that sometimes our work has a bit of an edge to it – we have been known to drag an awkward issue out of the coffee shops and into the public dialogue.  Two examples of this are the Morris park district referendum and the offer to fund a study for the three elementary school districts in Morris.  To some they may seem like failures.  To us they are successes because they brought the issues to some form of decision or consensus.


Two of our big grants recently have been to the Education Service Network (ESN) and JJC’s Grundy Workforce Services (GWS).  The grant to ESN funded the Jump Start program that provides in-home services to at-risk families with young children.  This early intervention helps the children in their development and helps the adults with their parenting skills.  Studies show that early intervention develops good habits and skills that last a lifetime.


The JJC GWS grant provides very customized transportation services to GWS clients to access education, training, job interviews and work.  There is a wide variety of federal- and state-funded resources for the education and job prep, but if the clients have no transportation, those services are under-used.


Both grants are great examples showing that the Community Foundation is not out to re-invent the wheel or duplicate services, but to brainstorm with our partners to fill gaps and get the maximum out of existing programs.


In addition to grants, the Community Foundation convenes a number of groups such as the Grundy County Area Planners, the Birth to Five Network, and the Grundy County Growth Conference.  We are partners in the Business Education Council and the Illinois Headwaters RC&D.  Also, Julie Buck is the 2008 president of the Grundy County Interagency Council.


Looking forward, the Community Foundation of Grundy County will continue to partner with area agencies and organizations to develop and implement projects that benefit the residents, students, and employees of Grundy County.


We hope that the community is as excited about our name change and work as we are!  We truly enjoy networking across the county to develop projects that fit our county best.


To think of it another way, we love “bridging people who care with causes that matter!”