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11 Organizations awarded $25,000 in Neighborhood Grants

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) proudly announces the 2024 Neighborhood Grants Program recipients. The grants, totaling $25,782.21, will be awarded to 11 groups and organizations (listed below) working to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

“The projects awarded this year may not reflect the conventional concept of a “neighborhood”, but each supports a distinct, unique, and tangible community,” said CFNIL Senior Program Director James Patterson. “Whether the effort benefits one block, a district, a village, or an assisted living facility, it reflects homegrown effort to love where you live! We are thrilled at the diversity of communities this year’s recipients represent.”

CFNIL has operated a neighborhood grants program since 1995, distributing more than $800,000 to neighborhood-based and serving groups and organizations to help build better neighborhoods in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties. grants are designed to encourage and support the work of these neighborhood-serving groups, promote resident participation and leadership, invest in and build on the existing strengths and assets of the region’s neighborhoods, and promote civic pride in our communities.

CFNIL will host a grants reception to recognize recipients and celebrate the good work happening in communities across the region. Media and community members are invited to attend the grant reception at 5:30 pm on Thursday, May 23, at CFNIL: 946 N Second Street, Rockford


AF & AM Crusade: $2,500 for “Keep it Clean in Ward 13 to make West State Street Shine!”
Volunteers, neighbors, neighborhood groups, city leaders, and nonprofits will do a massive cleanup in the 13th Ward with a focus on the West State Street Corridor and in particular, neighborhood streets and alleys. Official signage for the corridor project (pictured at right) will be installed by the West State Street Shines committee and cleanup participants invited to celebrate.

Embrace Living Communities: $1,500 for "Caring Hands”
This grant will support knitting and crocheting projects created by low-income older adults living in Greencastle of Mulford and Greencastle of Allerton affordable living communities. Participants enjoy greater connectedness to their neighborhood and community while enhancing their motor skills. They also gain a greater sense of self-purpose, helping avoid the negative impacts of isolation, loneliness, and depression; the social interaction strengthens neighbor-to-neighbor engagement and support.

The completed items will be donated for use by cancer patients, unhoused people, and those in hospice care.

Embrace Living Communities: $2,500 for "Community Ceramics and Arts”
This grant will support creativity and ceramic art projects created by low-income older adults living in affordable living communities. The completed items will be enjoyed by others in community common areas, donated to nonprofits, or gifted for holiday gatherings. Participants and recipients experience health benefits that contribute to greater physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, strengthen community engagement, and help combat the impacts of isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Ethnic Heritage Museum: $2,500 for "South Main Mercado”
South Main Mercado is a growing, annual, neighbor-organized event that celebrates and encourages Latino entrepreneurship and community-centric culture, particularly surrounding the South Main corridor. Since this region of Rockford is bisected by a state road, costly barriers could restrict the growth of South Main Mercado and other similar initiatives; this grant will allow for additional investment such as paying local talent and risk management supplies, helping ensure a successful event in a new footprint.

Jhoole Incorporated DBA Inscape Collective: $2,500 for "Midtown Strong Block Party”
The funds will be used to hold a Neighborhood Block Party and two follow up events focused on bringing the multicultural residents and businesses of Midtown together. These ways of coming together will create a stronger sense of community, belonging, and pride in the neighborhood and in turn, further inspire residents to support each other and improve their quality of life.

Northwest Community Center: $1,800 for "Adorning the Grounds of NWCC”
Serious Soup is a weekly soup kitchen located at SecondFirst Church in the Coronado Haskell neighborhood. Serious Soup provides fresh, hot, and nutritious food and the opportunity for fellowship for all who attend.

Save Our Summer Foundation: $2,500 for "2nd Annual 5th Street Neighborhood Watch Block Party”
The funds will be used to facilitate the 2nd annual Neighborhood Watch Block Party. The ultimate goal of the event is to form a Neighborhood Watch as a deterrent for drugs, violence, and gang activity in the targeted area, in a fun positive way.

Winnebago Community Historical Society: $2,500 for "Renewing Memorial Park – Village of Winnebago”
Memorial Park is in the center of the Village of Winnebago and located one block north of Town Hall in the commercial downtown. The Park will undergo an extensive rehab this spring and summer by the Village and volunteers. New playground equipment with emphasis on younger children will be installed along with other needed improvements. The project will add permanent landscaping and planting that will provide street appeal and shade for the park.

Winnebago County Housing Authority: $736.20 for "Green Energy Community Garden”
WCHA will partner with Awakening Foundation to build a green community garden by using solar watering pumps and raised garden beds in the neighborhood of Champion Park, and involve Champion Park residents to bring the neighborhood together to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Winnebago County Housing Authority: $946.01 for "Outdoor Beautification of Collier Gardens”
Collier Gardens residents do not have financial resources to buy flowers for their individual garden plots. This grant will help supply flowers and plants to help residents have pride in their community and space.