Last week, Midway Village Museum unveiled 19 historical plaques in downtown Rockford. Through text and historical photos, the plaques illustrate the people who have impacted the area over the last two centuries. The plaques are part of the larger Rockford History Walks program which introduces history-curious visitors and residents to the entrepreneurs, social reformers, politicians, pioneers, immigrants, builders, veterans, religious leaders, and educators who have contributed to our city’s rich history.
Since it opened in 1971, the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford has graduated “1,800 physicians specializing in every field of medicine, many of whom work in Winnebago County,” according to Regional Dean Dr. Alex Stegnaro-Green.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois will accept applications for its scholarship program from December 1, 2017 to February 1, 2018, but there’s plenty students can do before the application opens to make applying as quick and easy as possible.
“Before European settlement, two-thirds of Illinois was tall grass prairie. Today, we find it virtually extinct,” says Bernie Buchholz of the Friends of Nachusa Grasslands. Over the past thirty years, The Nature Conservancy has preserved and restored 3,600 acres of prairie, woodlands, and wetlands in Franklin Grove. The Friends of Nachusa Grasslands, a volunteer organization founded in 2008, provides for the long-term care and management of the project.
The Community Scholarship Fair will be held on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mendelssohn Hall (406 N. Main Street in Rockford).   The Community Scholarship Fair is hosted by the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL), Rock Valley College Foundation (RVC), and Rockford Public Library (RPL). At the free event, visitors can learn about more than $500,000 in scholarships and financial aid offered by local organizations for students in Northern Illinois.  
The RAAC Rockford Area Arts Council’s intensive ArtsPlace program mentors youth development through the arts. While students develop their artistic skills by serving as apprentices under professional artists, they are evaluated on essential skills like punctuality and productivity that they can bring with them into any job.
In 1955 and 1956, Rockford’s West High School Warriors won back-to-back state basketball championships, earning the title “the comeback kids” and blazing a trail for ethnic and racial unity in the process. The people of Rockford gave them a hero’s welcome home from the tournaments in Champaign, with more than 75,000 greeting them on their return in 1955 and more than 125,000 greeting them in 1956 after their second consecutive title.
This summer, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois worked with the Harlem Veteran Project to produce a few short films about our grant and scholarship recipients, and the donors who make their work possible. The first film in our series is about the Bruce Munro: LIGHT exhibit at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens – Rockford Park District, a project that received a $35,000 grant from the Community Arts & Humanities Fund from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.  
The Carroll H. Starr Endowment Challenge is an opportunity for nonprofits in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties to build a permanent endowment at the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is honored to receive a Business is Blooming award from the Rockford Area Convention & Vistors Bureau (RACVB). The award is given to businesses and organizations that make our region a more beautiful place with the care they put into their storefronts and surroundings. A news release describing the award and awardees is below.
Midway Village Museum is closing in on its goal to raise $150,000 as part of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Carroll Starr Endowment Challenge campaign. The museum launched its campaign in December 2016 and recently received a major Leadership Gift from Alpine Bank in the amount of $15,000. The Leadership Gift helped the museum move closer to its goal of $150,000 for the campaign.
Last fall, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois made a grant to the Rockford Symphony Orchestra (RSO) to help it reach new and diverse audiences. One of the funded projects was a podcast series hosted by the RSO’s Music Director Steve Larsen. In each episode, Larsen interviews a musician from the RSO about their instrument and life in music. In the first episode, Matt Gaunt, RSO’s tuba player, admits that he’s reformed marching band enthusiast, talks about his collection of brass instruments, and demonstrates how the tuba can be more sprightly than its reputation.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) is now accepting applications for its Community Grants program. All applications must be submitted online through CFNIL’s Web Portal by October 2, 2017 at 5 p.m.
On Friday, September 15, Cheryl and Mike Metcalf will host a benefit concert by JD Shelburne at Timber Pointe Golf Club. Shelburne is a singer and songwriter from Nashville, TN who plays a style of country music that is deeply influenced by gospel and pop. He’s currently on tour promoting his 2016 album “Between Here and the Stars.” You can learn more about J.D. and hear some of his music on his website.
Last year, CFNIL made a $188,622 grant to the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford Residency Program for its project: “Growing the Next Generation of Healthcare Professionals.”
Last year, CFNIL was honored to award a grant to Rockford Corridor Improvement and Zion West Enterprises for its Expanded Yard Maintenance Program, which employs residents of Ellis Heights to maintain vacant lots in the neighborhood. The grant was used to purchase a new commercial mower, allowing for additional staff to maintain more properties in the neighborhood. You can watch the video here.
The Bruce Munro: LIGHT exhibit at the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens opened in June and will continue to illuminate our region until November.There’s nothing quite like it. The lights come alive at dusk, the color and intensity ripples throughout the garden, and the Sun sculpture – inspired by the Rockford Park District’s logo – radiates with local pride. The exhibit, which was assembled by local volunteers, has the power to change how you see Rockford. Stop in for an evening stroll at 1354 N. 2nd Street in Rockford.
Are you interesting in applying for Community Grants, CFNIL’s largest and broadest grants program? Come to CFNIL’s annual Grantseekers Meeting at Memorial Hall in Rockford (211 N. Main Street) on Thursday, August 24, 2017 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. At the meeting, CFNIL staff will present information about:
Our most sincere condolences to all who knew Janet Kjellstrom, who passed away last month at the age of 92. Janet was a wonderful friend to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and scores of local arts, healthcare, and educational organizations. We always looked forward to meetings with Janet. She will be remembered for her wit, her adventurous spirit, her generosity, and her love of Rockford.
This week, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois was honored to present a $50,000 check to the Rockford Park District to improve the sound and lighting systems at Sinnissippi Park’s Music Shell. The new systems will improve concert quality while saving money on energy and maintenance. Click here to learn more about the concert series at the Sinnissippi Music Shell.
The Club Blue Grants Program supports organizations that supply the basic goods and services that promote the safety, health, and well-being of children in our community. The Club Blue Grant Program will accept applications from June 29 to August 1 at 5 p.m. All applications must be submitted through CFNIL’s online application portal.