Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy

A giving group established by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP) has awarded over $300,000 in the last four years to several big ideas that positively impact the local community. Through a competitive process, the aim is to make our community the best place to live, work and grow.

The inaugural grantee The Surplus Project (Big Idea winner 2016) is still going strong. More information at https://www.gobeyondhunger.org/programs/surplus-project

Co-founder Laura Maychruk on Comcast Newsmakers

maychruk comcast

 View the full interview. (4:37 min)

And the 2019 Big Idea Winner is...

It's Our Future

Find out more about It's Our Future's next steps at sevengenerationsahead.org/its-our-future

2019 Big Idea Finalists Updates:

Kindness Creators Intergenerational Program

We just finished the demolition portion of the two classrooms we are building within Oak Park Arms. As soon as we have our permits, construction will begin a few short weeks. We have an estimated finish date of late July. When construction is complete, we will be working on furnishing our rooms with developmentally appropriate equipment and materials to use with our children and seniors.​ We have also put together a scholarship committee to help us realize our goal of having tuition scholarships for families who may have need. ​Please check out our website kindnesscreators.org

Maram Makerspace

"We have been holding creativity and productivity retreats in April, and are looking forward to a Day of Making on May 5th, featuring Nepali cooking, paper arts, sourdough bread, and jewelry design. We're planning to host more 3D printing workshops soon, and will be adding writing workshops and classes over the summer, likely including some geared towards kids. Probably some board game nights too -- making fun!

We've recently acquired a Cricut, and are looking forward to purchasing a laser cutter! Maram continues to search for an ideal accessible space to rent or buy - please share any leads you may have) looking for a storefront, at least 900 sq. ft.)

We've created a website marammakerspace.com Please visit and find out how you can get involved: learn about upcoming events, become an instructor, become involved with planning the makerspace, or volunteer -- if you have any expertise in grant writing, this will be our summer of grant applications! We also welcome tax-deductible donations We can even make use of frequent flyer miles - to bring instructors, editors and agents to town.

Stop by and learn more -- we'd love to have your support. Look for us at What's Blooming on Harrison, and at A Day in Our Village!


While SHINE didn't become a reality under the Big Idea competition, we remain committed to the idea of connecting high-need families to community scholarships through informal channels and partnerships. We continue to share lists of available enrichment scholarships with families who are on our waiting list, with the hopes that families will find openings that work for their students.

We also hope to reconvene in the coming months with the key scholarship providers to talk about ways to work together and remove barriers for qualifying families, even outside the formal structure of a common application.

Tracy Dell’Angela Barber, Executive Director, Oak Park Education Foundation opef.org/donate

STEAM Fuel Lab

Steve Conner, in partnership with Loyola University, was recently awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a HEPH ED educational video game and digital media platform to teach Immunology to high school students. Work began on March 1st with testing and implimentation planned for fall 2019. In the near term, HEPH ED will continue its Art and technology classes in partnership with The Oak Park Art League and dance and engineering at Evolution Gym on Madison St. D-97 STEM summer school begins on June 17th. Lastly, the first generation of HEPH ED STEAM INCREDIKITS will be ready for purchase at HEPHED.com September 15th.​

 in Philanthropy

Be a business leader making big change in Oak Park and River Forest! As an early investor in ELP, you will help shape the direction of ELP and provide guidance on the process and grantmaking. To become a member, complete this form, or contact Rhea Yap, Director of Donor & Fund Development at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 708-848-1560 to discuss membership.

Who's Behind the BIG IDEA?

Core Committee


as of April 16, 2019

Share this page

Submit to FacebookSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn