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Rotary Club of Evanston participates in ECF’s Grantmaking Partner Program

January 20, 2021

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The Rotary Club of Evanston recently celebrated 100 years. “We want to be seen as someone who partners with organizations,” says Club President Tracy Tebear.

Tebear and the Club’s members decided in May 2019 to focus on food insecurity, well before the city’s shelter-in-place order in March 2020. Back then the Club had a mission to reduce food insecurity, then with the impact of Covid, it really became their only focus. 

“When you give $10 here and $10 there, your message gets watered down. We heard from community leaders and nonprofit organizations and narrowed our focus to support feeding families. If you don’t have a good meal, you won’t do well in school or anywhere else. If you don’t have breakfast, you can’t give your best,” said Tebear.

helping those in greatest need

Tebear has been with the Rotary for eight years. She said that one of the challenges of the Club is selecting the recipients that need help most. “We felt that working with ECF that we would have a better pulse on the community needs. ECF does so much work. It helped to have access to the data.”

With guidance from ECF, Rotary Club of Evanston participated in ECF’s Grantmaking Partner Program* and gave its first grant to Gyros Planet. Club members were so impressed by what owners Erika Castro and Pablo Sanchez, were doing to feed the community, making 110 meals per day. The wife and husband team work from 6:00am to 9:30pm and then turn around to help their children with homework and care for them. “I am so incredibly impressed with their work,” said Tebear. Most recently, they gave a second grant to Chef Q who is an Executive Chef cooking meals for more than 100 individuals in Evanston. 

Right now, Club members are in the rebuild phase. From a strategic perspective, they are looking to rebuild to ensure food security. “Rotary is looking to community leaders to expand our work. We are making sure to provide interesting and impactful programming where the funds allow. Covid hit Evanston hard as well as the rest of the world. We seek to balance local vs. global needs and rebuild.”

committed to our community

The Rotary Club is also expanding how it involves the community in its work. Evanston Loves Rotary is a community group that started about a year and a half ago. It focused on unique ways to help promote Rotary in the larger community. Most recently, Evanston Loves Rotary members set up a drive-in movie at the local Autobarn. Patrick Hughes and Annie Coakley were the key organizers of this effort. All proceeds from fundraising were split between the two clubs in Evanston: Rotary Club of Evanston and the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club. 

While this year has had its challenges, it was also a reason for Rotary to celebrate. The Rotary Club of Evanston celebrated 100 years. Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty read a proclamation during the event that thanked Rotary for its service. When asked what Tebear hopes Rotary represents to the community, she shared, “We want to be seen as someone who partners with organizations.” 

*The Grantmaking Partners Program works with businesses, family foundations, and organizations who have a donor-advised fund at ECF or elsewhere, seeking to make an impact in the Evanston community. ECF staff provide vetted, top-tiered grants to GMP who then decide to fund one proposal, several, or provide an unrestricted grant to the overall pool.