Light the Path for Scholars

On the longest, darkest night of the year we invite you to join us at the Community Foundation for a candle-lit open house and celebration of students and scholarships!

Join us Tuesday, December 21st from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. for this free, open-house style event. Enjoy dark and light treats, the beauty of candlelight on a dark winter night, and learn more about CFNIL's first crowdfunded scholarship, the Pay It Forward Scholarship. Donations will be accepted to meet a matching gift challenge for this new, unique award!

Please RSVP to or 815-962-2110. 

Unable to attend in person but wish to support the Pay It Forward Scholarship? Donate Now!

Since CFNIL’s first scholarship was awarded in 1994, we’ve awarded more than $3.4 million to thousands of northern Illinois students. Hundreds of volunteers have read thousands of applications, and every year come to the same conclusions: our students are doing amazing things, and there are far more deserving applicants than scholarships to give. There are always students who deserve an extra boost, who have overcome unbelievable obstacles to complete their education and just need a little more to get over the finish line. They’ve inspired us to create the Pay it Forward Scholarship.

Qualifying for this scholarship is simple: just fill out CFNIL’s application. Every student living within CFNIL’s service area who applies will be eligible, and our reviewers will be looking for students who demonstrate grit and the ability to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of their post-secondary education. 

The Pay It Forward Scholarship is CFNIL’s first crowdfunded scholarship, and we’re asking for your help. A generous donor who wants to inspire generosity in others will match every dollar donated to the scholarship fund by December 31, 2021, up to $30,000. If we reach that goal, we’ll be able to award an extra $2,400 to deserving students every year in perpetuity. 

Who should give to the Pay It Forward Scholarship?

- Past CFNIL Scholarship recipients looking for a way to support other students;
- Community members interested in supporting the education aspirations of local students but not interested in starting their own scholarship;
- Donors who are looking for a way to support students who have overcome significant life obstacles and with a high propensity to succeed in their educational aspirations;
- Current and past CFNIL Trustees and volunteer Advisors who are looking to maximize the potential of this campaign's matching gift!

Donate Now!

This is a free, open-house style event being held on Tuesday, December 21, the winter solstice and longest, darkest night of the year. You will be welcomed by a luminary-lit path and enjoy the beauty of the house lit only by candlelight. The event will feature light and dark treats and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options will be provided) at several stations in the house, on the back patio, and in the newly-restored historic autohaus located to the rear of the main house. Outside spaces will have heaters but we encourage you to dress warmly in order to fully experience this evening!

During the event you may view information displays about CFNIL Scholarships, mingle with other guests and CFNIL staff and volunteers, and enjoy delicious treats as you explore the space all dressed up for the holidays. 

We hope you will consider making a donation in support of the Pay It Forward Scholarship! Look for more information and stuff special stockings with your gift in the main floor living room. If you are unable to attend in person but still wish to support Pay It Forward, make a secure online donation now

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) is located at 946 N Second Street, Rockford, IL  61107. It is a large grey stone house with a green tiled roof, immediately north of the YMCA of Rock River Valley. The building is fully ADA accessible. Parking is available in the lots on either side of the YMCA. 

Use the interactive map below to plan your visit to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois!

In order to ensure the safety of all guests, the following COVID-19 protocols will be in place at this event. Please note these protocols may change should new or additional requirements be implemented or recommended by public health bodies. 

- Please RSVP ( or 815-962-2110) so we may ensure the event space does not become too crowded. Let us know if you plan to bring a guest or guests. Should the RSVPs reach or approach a number which will cause the house to be at capacity, we may announce the event is "sold out". 
- All CFNIL employees and volunteers who are staffing this event will be masked and are fully vaccinated. 
- If you are feeling unwell or believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 between December 7 and the event, please do not attend. 
- If you are unvaccinated, for whatever reason, we ask that you wear a mask while enjoying the indoor spaces of the event. 
- If you are uncomfortable with an indoor event at this time, we hope you will attend and enjoy the outdoor spaces!

Please contact us at or 815-962-2110 should you have any questions or concerns.