we help ideas become reality

ECF supports the realization of community visions by connecting partners, resources, and more.

When a vision arises in the community, ECF responds to help nurture and realize that vision. That can mean helping to gather the right partners to transform ideas into reality, working with donors to develop support, or acting as the fiscal sponsor for a community effort. Our role can evolve, as an initiative evolves. Over time, ECF has been part of a variety of creative projects.

Current and ongoing:

Evanston Climate Action FundEvanston Gun Buyback, Evanston Women's History Project, Northwestern University Dance Marathon

Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM)

NUDM2018.pngFor 21 years, ECF and Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM), one of the most successful student philanthropies in the nation, have partnered to make Evanston a more just, vibrant, and inclusive community. ECF is the secondary beneficiary, receiving 10% of the funds raised and NUDM has awarded ECF over $1.2 million over the years, making NUDM one of the Foundation’s top four donors. Students and ECF board and staff work closely together to ensure the NUDM participants get meaningful volunteer opportunities in the community.

ECF is grateful to NUDM for naming us again as their secondary beneficiary in 2019. Grant-award-045-350x475.jpgWe look forward to NUDM 2019 and congratulate the NUDM 2019 Executive Co-chairs CJ Patel and Justin Savin, in photo, as they take leadership in planning the 45th Northwestern University Dance Marathon, including the partnership with Communities in Schools of Chicago as the primary beneficiary. #EmpowerTomorrow

NUDM co-chairs serve on the ECF responsive grants committee and ECF supports NUDM’s fundraising efforts during the year. In 2018, NUDM and ECF worked closely with the primary beneficiary, Cradles to Crayons, and facilitated the expansion of their services providing needed clothing and supplies to children in Evanston early childhood programs.

In September, 2017, ECF and NUDM received the Evanston MashUp Evanston/Northwestern Catalyst Award, an annual award given to recognize people and organizations with committed partnerships between NU and the city.

Evanston Gun Buyback

The Evanston gun buyback program utilizes resources from the Foundation's Evanston Gun Buyback Fund to remove guns from our community. Established in 2012, generous contributions from Evanston residents, the Cherry Family Foundation, Evanston Northshore Hospital, ECF, and Northwestern University added more than $20,000 to the fund. The Evanston Police Department’s Gun Buyback Program now operates on a daily basis in order to gain control of unwanted guns as quickly as possible. Citizens can call 3-1-1 to arrange for a member of the Problem Solving Team to finalize arrangements for transfer of a weapon to the department. Read about the June 2018 gun buyback event.

Evanston Climate Action Fund

CGE_logo.jpgWhen Evanston created its first Climate Action Plan in 2008, the Evanston Climate Action Fund was established as a strategy to implement that plan. It supports the ongoing campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ECF holds the fund and works collaboratively with the City of Evanston’s Office of Sustainability, Citizens Greener Evanston, and others focused on the environment to develop grants and a grants process. Donate to the Climate Action Fund. Learn about the recent grants.

Evanston Women's History Project


The Evanston Women’s History Project collaboration focusing on the achievements of Evanston’s women was fittingly started by two creative women donors in 2007, who provided seed money and ideas to document local women’s history. ECF served as fiscal sponsor, working with the original donors to raise additional funds and employing a local public historian to spearhead the project. Organizations from the YWCA Evanston/North Shore to local sororities and women’s organizations worked together as the Evanston Women’s History Project (EWHP) over the next three years to document and celebrate this important history, along with current contributions.

EWHP continues as a project of the Evanston History Center, partnering with other organizations. Its development helped pave the way for the transformation of the Frances Willard Historical Association into the Center for Women’s History and Leadership (CWHL). The Evanston History Center fund that continues to support EWHP, the Joan Barr Smith Endowment for Women’s History, is housed at ECF.