Now is the time to deepen our commitment to making honest change in our community. As Evanston continues to    

recover from the depths of Covid19, ECF is laser-focused on addressing the inequities laid bare by the pandemic.

Please support our ongoing efforts across Evanston with a gift to the Now! Fund

Members of the Martin family at a recent event.

family grantmaking

The Joe "Butch" Martin donor advised fund flourishes. With help from ECF’s donor advised fund program, three generations of Joe Martin’s family work together to honor his memory.

giving tree

When Joe Martin (or “Butch,” as he was widely known) died in 2006, his wife, Denise, knew she wanted to start a foundation funding good work in his name. “I wanted something true to the spirit of Joe,” she says. “He was very low-key, but always helping. He would do anything: sweep your sidewalk, give you a ride to the store, anything.”

Martin was wary of getting bogged down in the technical aspects of foundation management, like legal filings and taxes. and she contacted the Foundation for advice. In 2007 we helped Denise and her children establish the Joe “Butch” Martin donor advised fund. Eight years later the fund has raised over seventy thousand dollars. “We’re very pleased,” said Martin. “And we want people to know this is achievable. You don’t have to be millionaires to get a fund going.”

ECF support, family decisions

The fund focuses on youth, men, and senior citizens in Evanston’s African-American community. Each year the Martin family gathers to decide on grant recipients from the relevanst grant proposals ECF receives from local non-profit organizations. “We have a big family get-together to talk it over,” says Martin. “Joe’s siblings, my children, and their children — my grandchildren. Thanks to everything ECF does, all that’s left for us is the final decision.”

Martin Fund grant recipients have included the Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association, Evanston Scholars, Second Chance, and Family Focus. “We’re very happy with what we’ve been able to do,” says Martin.

flexibility to meet any giving goals

In addition to the primary grant, for the last four years the Martin fund has hosted an annual award honoring local men who embody the same values of community helping as Joe Martin, who was well-known as the supervisor of buildings and grounds at Evanston Township High School. (Denise worked there too, as assistant superintendent/principal.) The fund also sends money to sponsor a child in the Philippines, where Joe Martin’s mother was from, and makes small donations to national charities.

“ECF is a joy to work with,” says Martin. “They always make you feel important. I can call up and say ‘I’m thinking about this,’ or ‘I’d like some suggestions about that,’ and they help me out.”