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Generosity reached a level unprecedented in our 35‑year history. Many long-time donors and new friends of the Foundation stepped up to help small businesses and nonprofits in times of great need. ECF raised more than $4 million and immediately granted those dollars right back into Evanston. With deep gratitude, we say thank you.

The 29th cohort of ECF’s signature program, Leadership Evanston (LE), also rose to the challenge when the pandemic hit in the middle of the 10-month program. 2020’s LE participants pivoted swiftly by convening and collaborating online. While the cohort looked and felt different, it accomplished great things.


Adept at adapting

“We realized we needed to quickly adapt to an online experience when the pandemic hit,” said Jennifer Moran, Director of Leadership Evanston and Training. “So many things were happening. The pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, job loss. Our standard practice of working in cohorts on various projects transitioned into supporting one another through all this change and unrest.” 

The LE class persevered and worked together to leverage their resources to help community where needed. Teams worked to address food insecurity, helped families adapt to e-learning and created new partnerships intended to make change. Determination and adaptive leadership allowed this class to stay the course and still remain a productive experience.

Paying it forward

Sara.Schastok.jpgWhen ECF’s founding donors first donated 35 years ago, they were planting the seeds to help build a fund for Evanston’s future. The growth of these many “seeds”—small and large donations—created the root of the Foundation’s long-term support of the community and helped us to quickly respond to the Evanston community during the pandemic.

Former ECF President & CEO Sara Schastok understands the power of an endowment. When she and her husband Horst lived in India, there were many times when the kindness and hospitality of strangers helped them make their way in their research, travels, and everyday life. Even their physician waved off efforts to pay him until their last visit—when he just smiled and asked them to remember and pay it forward. And with that, Sara and Horst are certainly paying it forward with their legacy gift to the Evanston community.

“A planned gift is a way to provide for those who will be here after me. It shows confidence in a future that we can’t predict.”
—Sara Schastok

Featured donors: Penelope and Toby Sachs

Penelope-&-Toby-Sachs-2.jpgPenelope and Toby Sachs have been trusted advisors and staunch supporters of ECF for nearly two decades. Penelope, a keen amateur musician, serves on the board of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra. Toby has done pro bono work for many Evanston nonprofits and also uses his many talents to support the Evanston Arts Council. 

Together, they dedicate their skills and energy to building a thriving and equitable community. They are exemplary partners with the Foundation, and we remain grateful for the generosity of community members like Penelope and Toby.

“We want Evanston to become the city we aspire to, where every resident can thrive. The Foundation’s strategic and broad view guides the way in developing programs that enable our town to be a place where we can all rise. That’s why we give.”
—Penelope Sachs

2020 Annual Report: Reimagine

“Our nonprofit closed for only two weeks before reopening in early April 2020 to continue providing essential services to our community. We needed to figure out— fast—how to continue our programs safely and effectively while also scrambling to keep afloat. A grant from ECF provided the financial stability we needed to continue our work-based training program to support nine Evanston residents to begin careers in the building trades.”
—Aina Gutierrez, Executive Director, Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse