The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois often takes a leadership role in responding to unmet needs in the community beyond our normal role as funders as conveners to solve community problems. These special initiatives have frequently supported existing efforts to create exceptional educational opportunities for local students.
A short history of CFNIL Special Initiatives:
In 1998, CFNIL issued a grant of $15,000 to challenge the community to raise $100,000 for uniforms and music equipment for the four high school marching bands in Rockford Public Schools. The BandWagon 1 campaign was a wild success, raising more than $270,000. The impact of BandWagon 1 has been significant. As Guilford band director Rick DeRango said: “Guilford received more than 300 marching band uniforms and nearly 20 instruments, almost all of which are still in working order today (Dec. 2013) from BandWagon 1. This was at a time when our students were performing in street clothes and on the verge of not having any instruments to play.”
In March of 2010, CFNIL established an endowment with an unrestricted bequest from Eunice Wishop Stromberg. She was a lifelong Rockford resident, who often reminded her nieces and nephews about the value of academic excellence and the importance of its pursuit. At the time of her death, the Regional Office of Education was having a difficult time finding a sponsor so that area students could compete in the Regional Spelling Bee. That is why the Trustees of CFNIL voted to use her unrestricted bequest to create the Eunice Wishop Stromberg Spelling Bee Initiative, which provides financial resources for the Boone-Winnebago Regional Spelling Bee in perpetuity.
In October 2013, the CFNIL announced BandWagon 2, an endowment for the eight middle school music programs in Rockford Public Schools. CFNIL and RPS each committed $100,000 to the endowment. It is the shared goal of both groups to inspire the community to give an additional $100,000. The fundraising effort for BandWagon 2 is still ongoing and we need your help!