partnering for Evanston's future: NUDM and ECF

Since 1998, Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) and ECF have been partners, working together to make Evanston a more just, vibrant, and inclusive community. For 20 years, ECF has been the secondary beneficiary of one of the nation’s most successful student philanthropies. 

NUDM has awarded ECF over $1.1 million over the years, making NUDM one of the Foundation’s top four donors. 

collaboration honored

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.

designating ECF as NUDM's secondary beneficiary

ECF is excited and grateful to NUDM for naming us as their secondary beneficiary in 2018. In 2017, ECF received $109,314. These funds support ECF’s grants and programs, with the majority in the Responsive Grants pool, significantly increasing the Foundation’s ability to fund the best investments for Evanston’s future.

NUDM funds have also allowed ECF to respond creatively to the community’s challenges and new ideas by seeding our Community Catalyst grants beginning in 2013, which respond quickly and nimbly to emergency and new ideas and advance strategic initiatives throughout the year.

partnership is more than money

The NUDM and ECF partnership is about more than money. Each year, the NUDM Executive Co-Chairs, serve on ECF’s Responsive Grants committee, sharing their insights to help select the strongest proposals. We are most grateful to Ian Pappas and Jenny Halpern for their leadership and exemplary service on our 2017 responsive grants committee. Throughout the year, NUDMers help out at the Foundation’s annual benefit and support ECF’s program work.

During the months leading up to the March DM weekend, executive board members and dancers volunteer for organizations funded by Responsive Grants — bringing needed support to organizations and providing NU students with opportunities to know Evanston better and get nonprofit experience.

The 2018 NUDM primary beneficiary, Cradles to Crayons, provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. They supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities with excess resources–whether new or used items in good condition–with communities that are in dire need of these resources. By partnering with social service organizations, Cradles to Crayons is able to ensure that all donations go to a deserving child, for whom the donation was specifically requested. Learn more on

Together, NUDM and ECF strengthen each other’s work — and strengthen the community. It’s exciting to dance into the future together!