Emerging Leaders in the Community

The Emerging Philanthropists Fund invigorates young leaders to join together as philanthropists. 

by Mark Roberts, Community Foundation of Central Illinois
Members of CFCI’s Emerging Philanthropists Fund.
Liz & David Wiest and Ashley Schreck are active members of CFCI’s Emerging Philanthropists Fund.

The Emerging Philanthropists Fund was designed by the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) to invigorate emerging community leaders to join together as philanthropists. The group is a cross-section of young professionals who like to have fun—but also want to positively impact our quality of life. Together, they build the Emerging Philanthropists Fund, an endowment which addresses community needs through grantmaking and offers a unique opportunity to members by providing a vehicle for strategic giving, information about the grantmaking process, and the ability to learn more about the many nonprofit organizations throughout the region.

Making a Larger Impact
The Fund’s “giving circle” model allows members to be philanthropic without having to be wealthy. By pooling together yearly membership contributions as well as additional donations, the Fund grows. Each year, a portion is granted back into the community, with members ultimately voting on which nonprofit organizations receive grants.

“There are so many people and organizations working hard to make Peoria a better place,” says Peter Kobak, recruiter for Peoria Public Schools. “We are inspired by them, but as young people in our 20s and 30s, we don’t have the resources individually to make a large donation. The Emerging Philanthropists Fund allows us to pool our resources… to have a bigger impact—one thoughtful grant at a time.”

“The Emerging Philanthropists Fund has been an awesome way to be a part of supporting something that is much bigger than I could do on my own,” adds Audrey Kamm, program director for the CEO Council. “It has been rewarding to be involved in where the Fund goes and get to know the many nonprofits that exist and are doing important work in the Greater Peoria region.”

Programs with Purpose
Dream Center Peoria was the 2019 Emerging Philanthropists Fund grant recipient, awarded $4,500 to support the DCP Coffee Program. As part of its job skills afterschool program, professional volunteers mentor the participants who roast, package and sell their own line of coffee. As the Dream Center describes the program: “It’s coffee with a purpose.”

The current balance of the Emerging Philanthropists Fund is $38,532—with total grants of $35,059 made to date. Previous grant recipients include the gitm Foundation, Easterseals, Peoria Art Guild, Girls on the Run of Central Illinois, T.H.I.N.K. Mentor Academy, Friends of Proctor Center and Camp Big Sky.

In addition to grantmaking, members gain basic philanthropic skills and are connected with established donors in the community. Here are a few guidelines for those who might like to participate:

  • Individual membership: minimum annual contribution of $100
  • Couple/family membership (per household): minimum annual contribution of $200
  • Must be committed to working together for the common good of our community.

By pooling their resources with other emerging leaders and like-minded members of our community, Emerging Philanthropists Fund participants can make a much larger impact on the causes that matter right here at home. PM