The Foundation has selected the YWCA Evanston/ Northshore as the first Evanston-based nonprofit organization to receive a Partners for the Future matching grant challenge.  The YWCA was selected for the clarity of its vision, the impact of its programming, and its readiness to take on the challenge. 

Partners for the Future was established in 2009 through a generous gift of $500,000 to the Evanston Community Foundation. This donor-advised initiative is designed to enhance the long-term effectiveness of selected grantee organizations in fulfilling their missions in the Evanston community. The program aims to build community capacity and sustainability by helping five to ten Evanston-based organizations leverage resources from the Fund to bring in new gifts, thereby enabling them to move their organizations to a new level of sustainability.  

Over the course of five to ten years, one organization will be selected annually by the Foundation from a small pool of prospective grantees recommended by the donors. Each will be awarded a 1:1 matching gift challenge grant to double donors’ new and increased giving.  Each organization will have twelve months to meet its fundraising objectives.  Funds can be used for current operations, held in operating reserves, or used to create or add to endowments. Partners for the Future grantees will be incorporated into meetings and workshops with other ECF grantee networks.  Periodic assessments will be made to measure each grantee’s progress and highlight key lessons that will contribute to the knowledge base that the Foundation brings to the full range of its work with organizations. 

 “Generous and thoughtful donors knew they could count on expertise within the Evanston Community Foundation to make a series of investments in the capacity of high-performing Evanston organizations. Each recipient will receive matching funds in the range of $50,000 to $100,000,” says foundation President and CEO, Sara Schastok, adding that “the timing of this initiative should provide a sense of hope in a period of financial stress.” 

The Evanston Community Foundation has eight years of success with matching gift challenges and with capacity-building grantmaking. “Our donors are experienced on-the-ground philanthropists who have seen how challenge grants have benefited us well beyond the time limit of the challenge,” says Schastok, noting that a similar 2003 matching gift challenge helped the Evanston Community Foundation secure new gifts of $122,000 from ten donors within the twelve-month matching period—and more than $1 million from these same donors in the five years since the challenge ended.  “That’s leverage—especially since most of these dollars have been given to our endowment,” she added. 

Helping Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive, and just community, the Evanston Community Foundation builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the public good.  The Evanston Community Foundation was established in 1986 and total assets now exceed $12 M.