Highland Park Neighbors Magazine Articles


Stronger Together – Highland Park Community Foundation Breaks Record and Awards 63 Grants to Agencies that Support Highland Park and Highwood Residents

Each year, the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) awards grants to local organizations that provide essential services to the Highland Park-Highwood community. On October 19th, the Foundation awarded 63 grants, totaling, $746,925—an astonishing $133,725 more than in 2021. This year marks the largest number of dollars allocated, as well as the largest number of grant awards.

Reflecting on the needs of the community, HPCF Chair Betsy Brint describes why she believes these grants make a meaningful difference for all Highland Park and Highwood residents. “The July 4th shooting dramatically increased immediate needs in our community. We are grateful to the thousands of compassionate donors who stepped up and helped us provide funding to alleviate some of the financial strains on the organizations who provided much-needed services to victims of the shooting.” She continues, “At the same time, we knew there were a multitude of other community needs and didn’t want to let those go unaddressed. We thus continued our work on our annual grants while also working on the Response Fund. Addressing educational needs of children, food and housing issues for families, transportation needs of seniors, and needs of individuals with disabilities so they feel included in the community are just some of the needs our grants will address.”

HPCF Grant Recipient Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB): HPCF Board Chair Betsy Brint and Board Member Karen Reisin and other volunteers at a weekly NIFB food distribution

The HPCF 2022 annual grant recipients include: 112 Education Foundation, A Safe Place, Anixter Center, BellaRu Catering, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts, Blessings in a Backpack Highland Park, Cancer Wellness Center, Catholic Charities – Lake County Senior Services, Center for Enriched Living, Collaborative Community Housing Initiative, College Bound Opportunities, Community – The Anti-Drug Coalition, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Cradles to Crayons, Curt’s Café, Direct Giving Lab, East on Central Association, Family Focus HP, Family Service of Lake County, Focus on the Arts, Glenkirk, GPF Foundation , Gratitude Generation, Highland Park After Prom, Highland Park Community Early Learning Center, Highland Park Historical Society, Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park Strings, Highwood Public Library, HPHS – Estudiante to Student Mentor Program, HPHS – Homework Club, HPHS – National Hispanic Institute, Infinity Foundation, JCFS Chicago Response for Teens, Jewish Council for Youth Services – Lutz Family Center, Josselyn, Keeping Families Covered, Keshet, Kids Rank, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, Mothers Trust Foundation, Music Institute of Chicago, North Shore School District 112, North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Operation Warm, Parks Foundation of Highland Park, Pilgrim Chamber Players, Roberti Community House, SaLT – Project Shop N’ Drop, Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation, Southeast Lake County Faith in Action Volunteers, Stuart I Raskas Friendship Circle of Illinois, The Art Center Highland Park, The Balance Project, Tri-Con Child Care Center, United Way of Lake County, Uptown Music Theater of Highland Park, Willow House, Working Together, Youth Services, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center.

This year’s grant recipients recently shared what HPCF’s grant means to their organization and what they hope to accomplish in the community. “Many people in our community are unaware that one in four North Shore School District 112 students qualify as low-income and are eligible for the Federal Free/Reduced Lunch program. These students eat meals at school during the week but may have limited food on weekends. Since 2013 Blessings in a Backpack has provided weekend food bags to more than 150 students from Highland Park and Highwood. Grants from organizations like the HPCF directly fund the non-perishable, kidfriendly food that is sent home each week,” said Melisa Septon, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Blessings in a Backpack.

Survivors of Domestic Violence at a Safe Place Event

Robin Byster, Executive Director of the Highland Park Community Early Learning Center, when considering how this grant impacted the organization replied, “thanks to the HPCF, our program continues to be strong and has bounced back in all ways from the worst of the pandemic. We are still managing through the trauma that COVID created in many families as well the incident on the 4th of July. The HPCF continues to allow us to offer childcare to families who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic or other types of family stressors but do not qualify for state childcare assistance.” The Director of Account Management at Operation Warm, Richard Lalley, also illustrated the significance of the funding to the families of Highland Park and Highwood; “HPCF’s grant helps provide new winter coats and shoes to economically disadvantage students in District 112. These gifts will bring warmth, confidence and hope to these children and their families. COVID, and now high inflation have made for Survivors of Domestic Violence at a Safe Place Event difficult choices for these families. Now they won’t have to worry about these basic needs for their children.”

In times of hardship and change such as the past few years, it is more important than ever to lean on one’s community. The annual grants provided by the HPCF, funded by its generous donors and a $300,000 grant from the City of Highland Park, ensure that our community remains tight-knit, strong, and welcoming for all its citizens.