Why Do We Do It?


Why do we do it?


The Community Foundation of Grundy County seems to stick our noses into other people’s business.  Why?  Are we nosey?  Are we bossy?  Are we trying to tell others what to do and how to do it?


No.  We have adopted the mission to make sure that others have the tools they need to do their job well.  We are also looking for ways to use philanthropy to make a difference.


Good examples of this are the Grundy County Area Planners and our recent foray into workforce development.


In partnership with the Grundy Economic Development Council, we convene quarterly meetings around the topic of land use & planning.  All elected and appointed planning officials are invited, as well as other taxing bodies, such as fire, library, and school districts.


During our meetings we have a guest speaker, sometimes local and sometimes from far away, to educate us on a topic that is new, urgent, or confusing for planners.  We also spend time updating one another on our activities and networking.  It’s refreshing to watch one village turn to another and ask, “How did you handle that?”


When it comes to land use & planning in Grundy County, it can be neighbor versus neighbor.  But with the world, climate, population, and economy changing, it has turned instead to Grundy versus the world.  We need to collectively do what’s right for everyone in Grundy County and smart land use decisions are part of that collective protection.


Having said all that, the next breakfast meeting of the Grundy County Area Planners will be Thursday, July 26th, at 7:30 a.m. at the Mazon American Legion.  Steve Lazarra of the Will County Land Use Department will present their joys and frustrations of dealing with IDOT on the Route 53 highway project.  This is a timely subject now that the widening of 47 north of Morris is coming to fruition.


Again, it’s not about the Foundation telling planners what to do.  It’s about getting knowledge and awareness into their hands so that they can make informed planning decisions.  Please RSVP to 941-0852 or [email protected] for breakfast.



Regarding workforce development, the planets appear to be aligning.  We’ve always been a member of the Business Education Council organized by the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but lately philanthropy is playing a larger role in the issue of workforce development.


Two weeks ago, Devan and I attended the “College Changes Everything” 1-day conference in Tinley Park.  Sadly, we were the only community foundation there, but found all of the workshops interesting and we could think of any number of ways that philanthropy can play a role in education and preparing our youth for life after high school.


One statistic shared that day is that today’s youth, if educated with some form of college or credential, will pump $507 billion into the American economy during their careers.  First question: how can philanthropy help assure that today’s youth get a college education or credential after high school?


Secondly, the converse of today’s youth pumping into the economy is:  today’s youth, if uneducated, will be sucking resources out of the health and human services industry due to their need for food, rent assistance, subsidized child care, etc.  What’s that figure?  I don’t know yet, but I bet it’s huge!  Another reason for philanthropy to be involved, if only to protect the future social service industry from being overwhelmed and needing philanthropy later.


A major philanthropic player is the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis.  They have adopted college and education as their main focus.  They are so dedicated, in fact, that they are hosting a 2-day workshop next week, only for community foundations.  We will discuss and brainstorm ways that private (them) and public (us) foundations can partner to assure that all youth in the nation have access to some form of higher education that is an excellent fit for that student’s talents, skills, worth ethic, and career options.


And with decreasing support at the state and federal levels for schools, colleges, Pell grants, financial aid, and scholarships, how can philanthropy help fill the gap while simultaneously helping to re-shape how American students are educated and prepared for the workforce and workplace of tomorrow?  Stay tuned!


So when you wonder why the Community Foundation does what it does, it helps to remember the old BASF commercial: “We don’t make the products you buy.  We make the products you buy better.”  A community foundation is similar.  We don’t tell decision makers and organizations what to do.  We use philanthropy to supply resources, training, education, and grants to make their work better.



Julie Buck is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County.  She can be reached at 941-0852 or [email protected].  The Foundation office is at 102 Liberty Street in Morris, Illinois.