Harper College Educational Foundation gives $100K to local nonprofits

Community Innovation Fund Grant Program Check Dr. Proctor

The Harper College Educational Foundation recently granted $100,000 to five, local nonprofit organizations as part of its new Community Innovation Fund Grant Program.

The program is providing one-year grants to nonprofit organizations whose missions support the advancement of equity, diversity and economic mobility for underserved and marginalized communities in Harper’s district. The program’s goals align with Harper’s efforts to reduce the college’s equity gaps by 20% by 2024.

“Harper and the Educational Foundation are inspired by the determination and ambition of these organizations, which share the college’s mission to better our communities,” said Laura Brown, vice president and chief advancement officer. “The Community Innovation Fund provides a wonderful opportunity to partner with groups seeking to assist under-resourced students, help at-risk single mothers and support victims of domestic violence.”

The five organizations that received a Community Innovation Fund Grant include:

  • Partners for Our Communities, Palatine – $50,000 grant to support Skyward Bound: Encouraging Marginalized Students & Their Families to Reach for the Sky. This program will offer access to one-on-one therapy for under-resourced young adults (ages 18-22) and their families. Skyward Bound’s goal is to remedy a mental health equity gap that exists after high school students graduate, but before they enroll in college. POC seeks to help young adults struggling with growing up and away from family, higher education, and finding employment.
  • GiGi’s Playhouse, Hoffman Estates – $15,000 grant for the Math and Literacy Program for people with Down syndrome. The proposal funded by this grant will create new, advanced program curriculum and increase the capacity for free math and literacy one-on-one support at GiGi’s, with the goal of improving achievement and access to community opportunities for those with Down syndrome.
  • WINGS, Palatine – $15,000 grant for the Suburban Rapid Rehousing Program, which will provide 40 households (approximately 160 people) with housing units and support services. The grant will fund supplies and educational/employment training assistance to serve the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of domestic violence. WINGS assists clients in securing permanent housing and gainful employment upon exiting the program.
  • Fellowship Housing Corporation, Hoffman Estates – $10,000 grant for Transitional Housing and Wrap Around Services, seeking to remedy equity gaps for a diverse group of single mothers and children. The programs goals include providing safe, affordable housing for these families, along with case management, financial education, counseling, debt matching and career training for single mothers, as well as school supplies and warm clothes for their children.
  • Barrington Area Development Council, Barrington/Carpentersville – $10,000 to support InZone for Sunny Hill program, which will allow underserved students in grades four and five to attend the InZone Summer Enrichment and Sports Camp on Harper’s campus. The project is targeting 25 students at Sunny Hill Elementary School who will be able to choose from more than 150 courses that are structured to introduce college life and prepare them for the future.

Kathy Millin Dr. Proctor Community Innovation Fund Grant Program Presentation

Kathy Millin (left), executive director at Partners for Our Communities, receives $50,000 from the Harper College Educational Foundation's Community Innovation Grant Fund Program, presented by Dr. Avis Proctor, Harper president. The grant will help fund POC's Skyward Bound program to assist young people with their mental health needs.

All five grants are set to make a large impact in Harper’s district. Kathy Millin, executive director at POC, which was awarded the largest grant, spoke about her appreciation of the Community Innovation Fund Grant Program, but also about the difference these funds will make in people’s lives.

“I have to tell you when we first got the news, we cried. Our staff felt this sense of joy,” Millin said. “We’re seeing such despair and hopelessness out there, which scares me. We’re excited to help normalize taking care of your mental health for these young people.”

Harper and its foundation announced the grant program this spring and encouraged area organizations to apply while detailing how they would use the funding for projects, programs, activities and services that focus on uplifting activities with long-lasting impacts and outcomes. Each grant is for a one-year period (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023) and recipients will be allowed to apply for a one-year renewal.

Part of the impetus for the Community Innovation Fund Grant Program was MacKenzie Scott’s $18 million transformational gift to Harper in 2021.

“MacKenzie Scott wrote how generosity is generative, and that sharing makes more,” said Dr. Avis Proctor, Harper president. “The goal of these grants is to advance work supporting equity, diversity and economic mobility within our community, for years to come. Together we can generate transformational and strategic impact for our entire community to thrive.”

Last Updated: 10/5/22