First $2.6 Million Community Investment Fund Grants Revealed

EVANSTON, IL — Seven community organizations in Lake and Cook counties have received a total of $2.6 million in the first rounds of grants from NorthShore University HealthSystem.

The Evanston-based hospital group announced a $100 million commitment to a new community investment fund earlier this year as part of its merger with Edward-Elmhurst Health, which itself has pledged $100 million to its own fund.

Recipients were chosen based on their alignment with the new fund’s goals, which include health equity, economic security and the social determinants of health, NorthShore officials said.

“These relationships will go far beyond funding,” JP Gallagher, president and CEO of the combined entity, said in a statement. “Our goal is to be a true catalyst for change, putting our unique talents, abilities and resources to work by collaborating with like-minded local organizations to benefit our communities.”

Edward-Elmhurst Health officials plan to solicit grant proposals and announce their first awards in the coming months, according to NorthShore representatives.

The largest single grant — $682,000 — goes to Rosalind Franklin University’s Community Care Connection, which operates a mobile clinic that provides free health screening services to low-income Lake County residents. The money will allow the North Chicago-based program to expand its hours, according to Lupe Rodriguez, director of community health engagement.

In the second-largest award, Highwood Public Library and Community Center received $578,000 to provide preventative health and mental health education, case management, and counseling in English and Spanish to struggling families. served. The funding will allow the library to hire staff to provide counselling, run support groups and do case management. Library staff will also be able to connect patrons with resources to build resilience in managing mental health issues.

“In Latin American culture, mental health is stigmatized, preventing individuals from seeking the services they need,” executive director Carmen Patlan said in a statement. “The Highwood Public Library and Community Center is a safe space where families feel comfortable expressing their needs and seeking the support needed to overcome challenges. We are establishing best practices that reimagine what libraries can be for their communities.”

Highland Park Hospital President Gabrielle Cummings said in a statement that NorthShore’s new fund will help the award-winning library build the trust it has established in the community and expand its outreach and service offerings.

“Our Community Investment Fund is built on the principle that the more we connect and invest in our communities, the better off we all become,” Cummings said. “We aim to be a true catalyst for change, putting our unique talents, abilities and resources to work by collaborating with local organizations, like Highwood Public Library, through creative partnerships to benefit our communities. ”

In Evanston, the fund has committed $500,000 to The AUX, a Black-owned business community center slated to open next year in a vacant factory at 2223 Washington St. With 12 anchor tenants, the program will create 30 jobs and increase access. to health-related services. The fund also awarded $200,000 to support the launch of a workforce development partnership to encourage young people to pursue careers in health care. NorthShore’s grant is supplemented by funds from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act and a donation from the Finnegan Family Foundation.

Between Friends, a domestic violence support and education group that has been around for more than 35 years, has received $300,000 from the NorthShore Community Fund. The funding will allow it to expand its 24-hour helpline and counseling services, according to NorthShore.

The Friendship Center, a Northwest Side organization near Sweden’s NorthShore Hospital that has been helping those in need for half a century, received a $200,000 grant. The money will allow the group to increase its mobile reach and improve its facilities to create a pantry with less stigma.

And Partners for Our Communities secured $116,300 in funding to increase access to resources for low-income and immigrant populations in the northwest suburbs. The organization has partnered with Northwest Community Healthcare for decades and helps run an all-inclusive community resource center at 1585 Rand Road in Palatine.

Gallagher, head of the combined hospital group currently known as NorthShore – Edward Elmhurst Health, said there was a lot more to come from community funds.

“Through an intentional model focused on impact, results, engagement, and partnership, we’re redoubling our focus on what vibrant, community-connected care looks and feels like. The more we connect and invest in our communities, the better off we all become,” said Gallagher. “We’re just getting started, and the potential is huge.”

Jill E. Washington