building resilient organizations

For 2021, ECF is offering a special opportunity to root2fruit alumni organizations.

During these challenging times, nonprofits are challenged to plan strategically and financially, given current conditions and uncertainty around the future. Having already been creative and nimble in this crisis, how do nonprofits best move forward?

strategy cohort and coaching

ECF has engaged Spectrum Nonprofit Services to offer Building Resilient Organizations, with the support of the Mammel Foundation. The focus of this program is to support nonprofit leaders as they move from crisis management to making the necessary and difficult decisions to strengthen long-term sustainability. 

There are two opportunities for this support for root2fruit alumni organizations.

Strategy Cohort

Eleven root2fruit alumni organizations are in a cohort working over the first half of 2021 to explore impact strategy, revenue strategy and financial leadership, and organizational structure and overall business models. The group will meet four times over the year for learning sessions (online for foreseeable future). Additionally, each participating organization will receive three hours of individual coaching and consulting.

Participating root2fruit alumni organizations are: 

  • Curt’s Café
  • Farmworkers and Landscapers Advocacy Project (FLAP)
  • Hip Circle Empowerment Center
  • James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy
  • The Lilac Tree
  • The Musical Offering
  • Open Studio Project
  • PEER Services
  • Piven Theatre Workshop
  • Reba Early Learning Center


For root2fruit alumni organizations not involved in the cohort program, Spectrum is offering up to 2½ hours of individual organizational coaching in 2021. ECF will open registration for this program for up to 20 organizations on a first come, first serve basis in February.

Questions? Please contact Program Consultant Marybeth Schroeder.

history of root2fruit

The root2fruit program was made possible through a partnership with the Mammel Foundation, which has invested over $1.6 million since 2003 in this program which builds the capacity of small to mid-size nonprofits in Evanston. Since its inception, the root2fruit program has benefited 58 small and mid-size organizations serving Evanston.

The root2fruit program included capacity building grants renewable for three years, a learning community, and mentorship for grantees. Capacity building initiatives focus on building infrastructure to support an organization's long-term growth and sustainability so it can better fulfill its mission. Examples of capacity building include board development, staff development, strategic plans, fundraising, and marketing and branding. Organizations who completed the three-year learning cohorts are considered root2fruit alumni organizations and have been eligible for grants and programming. 

Participation in root2fruit has helped build their long-term sustainability through improved board effectiveness, fundraising capacity, and business practices. Because of this work, these strengthened organizations are able to have positive impact in our community. 

In January 2020, the Evanston Community Foundation announced the recipients of the 2020 root2fruit capacity building grants. In this final round of the root2fruit program, two new organizations were selected for grants of up to $15,000 each, and each organization is eligible to receive grants for the following year, up to a maximum of $30,000.

The two final root2fruit grantees continue ECF’s commitment to supporting the breadth and depth of Evanston’s nonprofit community. Canal Shores and Young, Black & Lit. They are joined in the final year of the program with three organizations finishing their third year in the program: Actors Gymnasium, Puerta Abierta, and Reba Place Development Corporation. All participate in a learning cohort designed to help them build their long-term sustainability.

Explore the grantmaking history for a listing of root2fruit grantee organizations.

Recognizing that organizations continued to need capacity building opportunities beyond the three-year root2fruit cycle, the Foundation awarded one-year capacity building grants from 2011 through 2020. Explore the grantmaking history for a listing of all previous alumni grants awarded.

In January 2020, the Foundation awarded $30,000 in root2fruit alumni grants to support projects improving organizational infrastructure and long-term sustainability. They are:

Books and Breakfast: Funding stream expansion: $5,000

Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse: Developing e-commerce for reclaimed building materials: $5,000

Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project: Major and Planned Giving program:  $5,000

Fellowship of Afro-American Men (FAAM): Technology support and upgrades: $5,000

Moran Center for Youth Advocacy: Enhancing data collection for sustainability: $5,000

Reba Early Learning Center: Reba 2.0: $5,000