Mobilizing in the Face of Unprecedented Need
The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation created the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund to raise money dedicated to addressing the urgent needs of disadvantaged communities bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic's effects. Through our work with donors, nonprofits, local businesses, institutions and community leaders, the Foundation is uniquely positioned to mobilize action in response to the critical needs of the community, and to direct funds to where they will have the greatest impact.
The fund was launched in mid-March 2020 with a seed investment of $50,000 from the Foundation. The Foundation then matched dollar for dollar the first $100,000 in donations, and the fund received $250,000 from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund. In May, longtime Oak Parkers Ken and Patty Hunt offered a challenge to match donations up to $250,000. Individual, family and corporate donors rose to this challenge, donating an additional $270,000 toward this vital effort — including $30,000 raised by the 700 Block of Bonnie Brae’s LemonAid charity drive, which selected the fund as its beneficiary in 2020. To date, more than 700 gifts totaling over $636,000 have come from the community.
As a result of this overwhelming outpouring of generosity, over $1.1 million was raised and the Foundation has awarded grants to 62 nonprofits serving the western Cook County area.
We are grateful for community support of the Rapid Response & Recovery Fund
Your Impact on Our Community
The Rapid Response and Recovery Fund infused desperately needed dollars to agencies fighting to provide daily, ongoing support to our most vulnerable neighbors: those struggling with food insecurity, permanent housing, and health concerns. Equally important to the Foundation’s mission, we apply an equity and racial justice lens to our grant-making. The fund is combating the socioeconomic inequities exasperated by this virus, and is supporting the mental health and physical safety of all our community members. The Foundation continues to fundraise and distribute grants on a rolling basis.
Amid challenges unlike any we had previously known, we asked you to join our effort to provide funding that can aid stability throughout the neighborhoods you call home, and you delivered. Even as the pandemic subsides, its effects continue to be felt in these communities. Now with your ongoing support, together we will continue to help transform the lives of so many individuals and families.
Click on our focus areas below to see our growing list of grantee organizations and how grant dollars support our community.
Care for Our Children
From childcare to educational support to positive youth development and mentoring, these organizations specialize in addressing the needs of our community's children.
- Austin Childcare Providers Network
- BUILD Chicago
- Collaboration for Early Childhood
- Heph Foundation
- Hephzibah Children's Association
- Larry's Boys School Program
- Lawrence Hall
- New Moms
- Oak Park Education Foundation
- West Cook YMCA
Mental and Physical Health
Access to mental health care, primary health care, and physical safety are paramount needs during the COVID pandemic. Many grantees help specific vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the virus, such as seniors, infants, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and racial and ethnic minorities.
- Animal Care League
- Arbor West Neighbors
- Fellowship Community Services, Inc.
- L'Arche Chicago
- Howard Brown Health
- Leyden Family Service and Mental Health Center
- NAMI Metro Suburban
- Oak-Leyden Developmental Services, Inc.
- Proviso Partners for Health
- Sarah's Inn
- Smart Love Family Services
- Sweet Rest
- The Children's Clinic/ OPRF Infant Welfare Society
- Thrive Counseling Center
- United Cerebral Palsy Seguin of Greater Chicago
- Way Back Inn/Grateful House
- West Cook YMCA, Inc.
Food & Shelter
Grants supported agencies that provide our most essential human needs, working hard for food security and housing stability in our area. Local food pantries and ministries saw a tripling in need, mostly due to the unprecedented spike in unemployment. Grants also supported transitioning homeless families and individuals from shelter model to establishing safe spaces in hotel housing and other interim housing.
- Bethel New Life
- Beyond Hunger
- Cicero Berwyn Stickney Food Pantry
- Housing Forward
- Hunger Walkathon West CROP Walk
- Oak Park Homelessness Coalition
- The Oak Park Regional Housing Center
To offset job losses and uncertain economic futures, grants provided direct rental and utility assistance, job and workforce development for young adults, and legal aid for our most vulnerable neighbors, including our immigrant populations and people with disabilities.
- African American Christian Foundation
- Concordia University Chicago Foundation
- Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project
- Pro Bono Network
- Progress Center for Independent Living
- Triton College Foundation
- West Cook YMCA
The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation understands the interconnectedness of our social needs – the importance of a thriving economy as well as an active arts & culture scene – to our general collective wellness. With this view, we supported a variety of agencies that are integral to fulfilled and purposeful lives, from supporting employment of local artists and the ways our community gets public information, to ensuring our cultural institutions survive until they can be open again.
- Chicago West Community Music Center
- Echo Theater Collective
- Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park
- Frank Lloyd Wright Trust
- Growing Community Media NFP
- Historical Society of Oak Park River Forest
- Madison Street Theater
- Maywood Fine Arts Association
- Oak Park Area Arts Council
- Oak Park Art League
- Oak Park Festival Theater
- Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce
- Open Door Repertory Company
- Pleasant Home Foundation
- Pro Musica Youth Chorus
- The Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest
The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s leadership and tireless advocacy for our community led to a grant from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, a statewide fund set up by The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, in collaboration with the Office of Governor JB Pritzker. We are grateful for these additional monies, which were deployed immediately into the community.