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Evanston Swims! rises
on tide of community support

May 12, 2014 | ECF Press Release

This successful Evanston150 idea is positioned for future growth thanks to strong partnerships.

Evanston Swims! expands

More kids in Evanston will get their feet wet thanks to the expansion of Evanston Swims!, a trend-setting program that provides free swimming and water safety lessons to District 65 2nd graders. The program is considered to be an unqualified success, leveraging a large network of community organizations and volunteers, attracting the support of donors, and growing from a pilot program of 3 schools and 2 pools, to 8 schools and 4 pools.

program transition

Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) announced today that it has transferred the Evanston Swims! Fund of over $17,000 to the YWCA Evanston/North Shore to support the program. The Fund has grown over the past 18 months through the generosity of many, including Evanston organizations and local swim teams, and donors honoring the memory of Paul Collins Pate. The program will be managed through a partnership among the YWCA, McGaw YMCA and Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

CEO Sara Schastok said, "The time is right for the YWCA and the McGaw YMCA to provide coordinated management of the program for optimal planning and growth." The program expansion will guarantee that many more Evanston 2nd graders will have the opportunity to participate in the Evanston Swims! program.

"The success of Evanston Swims!, is the result of true community partnership," said Bill Geiger, CEO of the McGaw YMCA. "Evanston/Skokie School District 65, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, YMCA, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, as well as many community volunteers and donors have all come together to support our youth."


an Evanston150 top idea

Evanston Swims! grew out of the Evanston150 community visioning project launched in 2011. Community members submitted and vetted their top 10 ideas for Evanston's future as a long-lasting way to celebrate the City's 150th anniversary in 2013. Thanks to the groundwork of the Evanston150 project team "Water, Water Everywhere", and strong commitment from community partners, an innovative program was launched in 2012/2013, customized to meet the community's needs and leverage the strengths of its partners.

"As we move forward in building and sustaining Evanston Swims!, we will need the support and commitment from our community to join with us to teach ALL our children how to be safe in the water," said President and CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore Karen Singer. "It is something we can and must do together." Contributions can be sent to the YWCA noting "Evanston Swims! Fund" in the memo line.

One of the project's earliest supporters was retired District 65 teacher and administrator Clara Pate, and mother of championship swimmer Paul Collins Pate (1967-2013). "When I started Paul and his twin sister swimming at nine months, I had no idea he would compete in middle and high school, and attend university on a swimming scholarship," said Pate. "To be a swimmer, you need to be in the water! I couldn't think of a better plan than Evanston Swims! as a memorial to keep Paul's legacy alive."

about the foundation

The Evanston Community Foundation, founded in 1986 with current assets of more than $19 million, helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive, and just community. It builds, connects, and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the common good. The Foundation builds endowments for current and future opportunities, fosters private philanthropy, focuses the impact of collective giving, finds solutions to community challenges, allocates grants, and provides leadership training.