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How does the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation work?

More than $3 million invested into local communities

The Starved Rock Country Community Foundation exists to match people with causes that matter to them.

The way the agency does it is to create charitable endowments and donor-advised funds to make grants and scholarships available throughout the region that extends primarily to La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties but also to Marshall and Livingston counties.

There are numerous examples of people walking into the office doors at Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, now in La Salle and formerly in Ottawa, and setting up funds that have made a difference in their communities, said Pamela Beckett, president and founder of the foundation.

The foundation has raised more than $3 million in five years – $2.1 million of which is restricted/designated fund donations/earnings. Of that, $1.3 million has been spent on grants, scholarships, events and donations.

What are some of the funds?

The Flags of Freedom Princeton fund stands in tribute to the men and women who serve or have served our nation; SRCCF serves as the fiscal sponsor for Flags of Freedom.

The Robert M. Eschbach Endowment Fund recognizes the vision, dedication and accomplishments of the Ottawa mayor. Established by Eschbach’s sister, Shannon Eschbach Coleman and Ken Coleman of Seattle, it is specifically designed for the continued aesthetic, cultural and economic development of Ottawa.

The Lamb Family Fund for Ability and Adaptation was started with a generous gift from George and Cindy Lamb to make charitable gifts to organizations and agencies that serve individuals living with physical disabilities. The fund will make grants to nonprofits through a grant application process. The Lamb Family Fund for Crotty Park Playground brings an all-inclusive, wheelchair-accessible playground to Seneca.

The Captain Thomas John Heitmann Memorial Fund pays tribute to the St. Bede Academy graduate who excelled as a track star. While attending Valley Forge Military College, Thomas was the first cadet to achieve the rank of cadet 2nd lieutenant. After further training and a host of honors, while stationed at Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Thomas gave the ultimate sacrifice and died at 27, doing what he loved most, flying a AH-1W Super Cobra. To honor Thomas’ dream of building a superior running track at St. Bede, his parents, Tom and Mary, along with donors and the Academy, built the Capt. Thomas John Heitmann Memorial Track. Now, in partnership with SRCCF, the fund supports veterans causes.

The Ottawa/Naplate Disaster Recovery Fund and the Starved Rock Country Marathon funds also were created through SRCCF. Initiatives include The Little Free Library Initiative and the Women Inspired Network, which has contributed more than $33,000.

A dedication to the arts

The Arts of Starved Rock Country Fund offers financial support through competitive grants to charitable organizations and agencies engaged in the world of art throughout the Starved Rock region, and provides a noncompeting, neutral hub to engage and connect local artists and arts/cultural organizations.

Initially made possible by a gift from the former Illinois Valley Fine Arts Trust and the Omni Arts Trust, The Arts of Starved Rock Country Fund is gaining recognition at the state and federal level, having recently received a number of first-time grants.

Led by arts fund manager Shanna Dugan and a newly formed Arts Advisory Council, grants are made to local arts organizations through a competitive process twice a year. Funds to support those grants and other activities rely on contributions from donors throughout the region and are supported in part through funding from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

SRCCF offers a consolidated online resource to provide a database of artists and their profiles; organization and venue profiles; a master calendar of events; media kit information; and individual artist web pages – a place for every artist to connect and showcase their work. Workshops are also offered for topics such as capacity building, idea sharing and small business development.

In 18 months of operation, The Arts of Starved Rock Country Fund, a $100,000 Endowment for the Arts was created in March 2019. The principal of the fund will exist in perpetuity, with only the interest earned available for expenditures.

More than 169 artists have participated in the grant program.

Grants totaling more than $49,000 have been awarded to the La Salle County Historical Society, Ottawa Concert Association, Stage 212, Princeton Theater Group, Poco a Poco, Spring Valley Library, Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, NCI Artworks, Community Outreach Teen Center,
St. Michael Catholic School, Ottawa Opportunity School, Tiskilwa Historical Society, Princeton Public Library, Friends of the Streator Public Library, Peru Public Library and La Salle Rotary Park.

Emergency funding was given to individual artists struggling with navigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Arts of Starved Rock Country Fund received an Illinois Arts Council Grant in 2019 and were invited to apply in 2020. These grants are the first to be awarded to a re-grantor in the four-county area.

Other achievements of the SRCCF include:

Festival of the Arts: Creative and dedicated committee members from across the region have come together to create the Starved Rock Country Festival of the Arts. The 2021 festival, to be held Labor Day weekend in Ottawa, will include a juried art competition for film and visual arts, along with an art show, seminars, children’s activities, a community build and a host of other opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

From Artist to Entrepreneur: A series of five educational sessions to assist aspiring artists launch a for-profit or non-profit business, manage accounting, marketing, and social media responsibilities.

The Starved Rock Country Vintage Poster Contest: In partnership with Shaw Media, this annual competition results in an ongoing series of beautiful travel posters centered on Starved Rock County.

Omni Honors: Created by former Omni Arts Director, Bill Jankowski, the annual celebration recognizes individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a significant achievement in the arts. OmniHonors 2021 is tentatively planned for the second week of April.

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