Welcoming Shellé Jewelers as the Highland Park Community Foundation’s 10th Corporate Champion

Опубликовано: January 9, 2023 в 7:27 pm



As we enter the new year and look forward to all the opportunities that come with it, the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is proud to welcome Shellé Jewelers as our 10th Corporate Champion. The relationship between the HPCF and local businesses has been an essential component of the work that the Foundation accomplishes each year, and our new partnership with Shellé Jewelers brings exciting philanthropic opportunities to the new year.

Shellé Jewelers is a third-generation family-owned business with an impactful presence in the North Shore area. Fulfilling the dream of founder Sheldon M. Millman, all their design and repair work is done in-house by the finest and most knowledgeable master craftsmen. Their staff go above and beyond to provide superior customer service while offering customers stunning jewelry, meticulous repairs on sentimental pieces, and unparalleled craftsmanship from graduate gemologists, master jewelers, and certified appraisers.

L to R: Shellé Jewelers Team Members Liz Nazario, Peg Keane, Manny Millman, Brian Millman, Abra Berkley, and Pattanin Chaijenkit

Since its inception, Shellé Jewelers has been committed to the giving spirit through fundraisers and donations that support local organizations. By becoming a HPCF Corporate Champion, Shellé Jewelers has extended its philanthropic hand to directly benefit the Highland Park/Highwood community. “For more than 70 years, Shellé Jewelers has been committed to giving back. Now, as a Corporate Champion with a long-term investment to support and enrich the lives of those in and around Highland Park and Highwood, we directly align our philanthropic mission with the Highland Park Community Foundation;” said Brian Miller, grandson of Sheldon Millman.

Corporate Champions are crucial to helping further the philanthropic efforts of the HPCF and improve the lives of those in the community. Their donations provide critical funding for programs and services Highland Park and Highwood residents need to thrive. When businesses champion the HPCF, they help community members overcome adverse circumstances, provide opportunities for underserved members of Highland Park/Highwood, and change lives

With the generosity of Shellé Jewelers, the HPCF can continue to fulfill the educational and human service-based needs of children and adults, provide funding for senior services and services for individuals with disabilities, and support the needs of organizations that provide artistic opportunities for community members.

Shellé Jewelers is in good company with nine other HPCF Corporate Champions, all of which are committed to improving the lives of residents. The HPCF would not be able to enact the same level of change in Highland Park/Highwood without them. As we welcome Shellé Jewelers to our program, we express heartfelt gratitude to all our Corporate Champions: Mesirow, Sunset Foods, First Bank of Highland Park, Kovitz, Autohaus on Edens, Banner Kitchen and Bath, Highland Park Bank and Trust, Mariani Landscape Architects, Porsche Exchange, and Shellé Jewelers.

As the new year begins, we invite businesses large and small to join us in our quest to address the unmet needs in our community and expand opportunities for all Highland Park and Highwood residents. For more information about how to become a Corporate Champion, contact HPCF Executive Director Terri Olian at terri@hpcfil.org.

Race to Honor the Victims of the Highland Park Shooting

Опубликовано: May 10, 2023 в 4:33 pm



On June 4, 2023, runners will race to honor the victims of the Highland Park shooting and benefit impacted community members. The Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is proud to be the charitable partner of the Highland Park Strong Half Marathon, 5K and 1 Mile Run (or walk), formerly known as the North Shore Classic. One of the best in Chicago, the half marathon begins in downtown Highland Park and makes its way north past historic sites in Fort Sheridan before heading back to downtown HP. The 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk make a quick loop around the neighborhood. There is a virtual option for those who want to participate at a distance, and there will be a post-race celebration for participants as well as the entire community.

The 2022 North Shore Classic Starting Line

Ventures Endurance is known for producing unique races and athletic events that bring communities together in an active way. After nearly five decades of producing the North Shore Classic, Stuart Wall, Senior Director, Event Development & Operations at Ventures Endurance, says this year is “an inflection point” for the event in light of the Highland Park shooting. Reflecting on what makes this year’s race different from those in the past, he said, “we are enhancing the community atmosphere and participant experience by engaging more local partners, extending the post-race celebration, and creating meaningful connections with neighbors. We look forward to welcoming new runners and non-runners to the event and 1 Mile walk. We will also remember those impacted by the shooting.” Participants can raise money for the HPCF’s July 4th Recovery Fund, which will be distributed to local organizations dedicated to providing mental health, legal, and other services for impacted community members.

New Highland Park Strong Race Logo

From its Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races to obstacle courses and cycling races, through their charity program, each of Ventures Endurance’s events support nonprofits, allowing participants to fundraise and donate as well as raise awareness for the chosen cause. The inspiration to choose the HPCF as this year’s charitable partner came from Ali Burnham, a Highland Park resident and avid runner. Just weeks after the shooting, Ali rallied her fellow runners and approached Ventures Endurance about modifying the race to honor the victims and help the community. “We were impressed by the immediate action to establish and distribute the July 4th Response Fund to assist victims and families following the shooting. More than that, though, the Community Foundation has long been a presence in Highland Park, reinvesting in the community in which we host our events. From our initial conversations, we felt we could be great partners, and together we could raise more funds that would create a greater impact.” HPCF Board Member Craig Leva added, “the HPCF is very much honored to be the chosen beneficiary for this race. For over 30 years the HPCF has been meeting critical needs within the Highland Park and Highwood community. The funds raised from this race will support a variety of local organizations that continue to help the community’s grieving and healing process.”

This year’s Half Marathon, 5K and 1 Mile Walk/Run will be particularly meaningful for the Highland Park and Highwood community. This importance is reflected in the new logo for the race, which was redesigned to honor the 7 victims through the leaves of the tree and in the name change for the event to the Highland Park Strong Race. “Having this race renamed as the Highland Park Strong race is a testament to our community’s resiliency. There were so many members in our community who took immediate action with candlelight vigils, memorials with pictures, flowers, and words of hope. HP Strong signs popped up just about everywhere,” remembers Craig. “The Highland Park Community Foundation, with help from an incredible number of individuals and businesses, quickly raised and distributed $5.8 million to help the victims’ families and those physically injured. Somehow Highland Park Strong went from a hope to a reality.”

2022 North Shore Classic

The Highland Park Strong Half Marathon, 5K, and 1 Mile Race will take place on Sunday, June 4, 2023. The Half Marathon begins at 7:30 AM at St. Johns and Central Ave. The 5K and 1 Mile Race start at 7:00 AM. All end at the site of the post-race party, St. Johns and Elm Place, where there will be food, refreshments, and more. For race details and to register, please visit the hpstrongrun.com. Registration for the virtual event ends May 27th. Registration for the in-person race will remain open until noon the day prior to race day.

Welcoming New Board Member Caroline Mead and Senior Director Eric Zoberman

Опубликовано: February 9, 2023 в 7:47 pm



The Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) provides critical funding for nonprofits that provide programs and services to address needs of our community and improve the quality of life for all Highland Park and Highwood residents. Our committed Board and dedicated staff propel the work that is done year-round to raise awareness about the Foundation and funds we need to support our grants. As our presence in Highland Park and Highwood continues to grow, so too does our team. With great excitement, we recently welcomed Caroline Mead as our newest Board member and Eric Zoberman to our staff.

Back row, L to R: Caroline Mead, Piper Mead; Front row, L to R: Crosby Mead, Clayton Mead

Caroline Mead was raised in the suburbs of Kansas City and moved to Highwood with her wife Piper in the summer of 2013, where they continue to make their home with their two sons. “There are so many things that individuals in Highwood and Highland Park do to celebrate each other, to look out for one another,” Caroline stated. “This community has inspired me to become involved with the HPCF.” Seeing how the Community Foundation has made a difference over the past three decades, she wanted to be a part of a “local organization that makes our community special, and that makes it what it is.” As she also said, “The Foundation has been around long enough to establish itself as an entity that can make an impact, and I am beyond thrilled to be a part of it.” “We are delighted to welcome Caroline as the newest member of our Board,” said HPCF Board Chair, Betsy Brint. “With her experience and commitment to community organization and planning, as well as her background in renewable energy, we look forward to having her insight and talent on our devoted Board.”

With 14 years in the renewable energy industry, Caroline hopes to bring a “green lens” to the HPCF. Her background in this field positions her to bring this perspective to existing projects and events, as well as to the future of the Foundation. “From the arts, education, and other various focuses, the Foundation contributes to so many different areas of need, and I think that one of the most important issues for current and upcoming generations is climate change, environmental awareness, and sustainability.” Additionally, as a member of the Highwood Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as Celebrate Highwood, Mead has helped shape the future of the town for decades to come. Her continued commitment to ensuring a better future for the next generations makes the HPCF proud to welcome Caroline Mead to the Board.

L to R: Eric Zoberman, Ilana Zoberman, Jennifer Zoberman, Eli Zoberman

Eric Zoberman has been named Senior Director of the HPCF. Eric brings with him an extensive background in nonprofit fundraising and volunteer management. He will work closely with HPCF Executive Director Terri Olian to communicate the HPCF’s vision and story, fundraise, and partner with donors. “We are thrilled to welcome Eric to our small but mighty staff. We appreciate his considerable experience working with community organizations, and the collaborative and energetic approach he brings to his work. With his clear passion for community engagement and philanthropy at a local level, Eric will be a tremendous asset to the Foundation,” stated Terri.

Eric grew up in Northbrook and moved to Highland Park in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic began. “We had a crash course in what it means to live in a community of people who support each other in uncertain times.” This community spirit, along with a lifelong passion for philanthropy and giving back, motivated him to join HPCF’s Associate Leadership Council and work with local rising leaders to provide philanthropic channels that are accessible to all residents. “I have always been guided by the belief that neighbors are uniquely positioned to help neighbors. I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to help move the organization – and the community it serves – forward.”

Eric has a long history of inspiring young people to get involved in their community and of connecting philanthropic organizations with the communities they serve through his work as the Managing Director at Precision Giving and as Director of Volunteer Services for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He also managed the Foundation’s yard sign distribution efforts in the immediate aftermath of the July 4th tragedy. By quickly building and mobilizing a coalition of stakeholders, Eric helped provide a pathway for all community members to show their support. He plans to draw on these experiences to achieve similar goals within the Highland Park and Highwood community.

With their backgrounds, community mindedness, and giving spirits, we know Caroline and Eric will help us achieve our vision of an inclusive, well-rounded, and vibrant community where residents’ lives are enriched through our philanthropic efforts. We are honored to have them on our team.

Leading With Purpose

Опубликовано: March 10, 2024 в 4:45 pm



Since 2018, the Associated Leadership Council (ALC), has served Highland Park Community Foundation as a collection of highly motivated young community members who are dedicated to furthering HPCF’s mission of addressing unmet community needs. With the goals of raising awareness about the HPCF’s mission, fundraising, actively engaging residents in community service events, and bridging the gap between the Foundation, community, and grantees, the ALC has assumed a critically important role. With tremendous gratitude, HPCF’s Board recognizes the current members of the ALC: Ali Barnett, Joey Bleiman, Erik Gimbel, Ashley Kelly, Taryn Kessel, Lisie Kuchar, Simon Leibovich, Emily Nasatir, Heather Sher, Jeff Weil, and Eric Zoberman.

Taryn Kessel, HPCF Board member, ALC founder and current Co-Chair, believes the ALC is a vital part of ensuring the next generation becomes invested in HPCF’s work. “I grew up in Highland Park and came back here to raise my family,” she stated. “As the youngest member of HPCF’s Board, I was interested in finding a way to get the demographic of younger adults and families involved in the Foundation. I thought maybe there could be a subgroup focused on bringing awareness to the HPCF and giving back to our community in a way that involved them,” Taryn added.

The ALC was formed in 2018 and hosted its first community service project, which was followed by a very successful fundraising event. Then came COVID. Unable to host events and with the strain of the pandemic on their own families, the ALC members’ work nearly came to a halt. Fortunately, the strain has eased and with the ability to host events once again, they are looking forward to a bright 2024.

“Our first year we coordinated a wonderful community service project at the Nuestro Center, where we assisted in moving their library. It was an excellent event where families got together to give back to the community. One of our goals is to sponsor more community service events that families can participate in, which will benefit HPCF’s grantees. We have since put together packages for mothers at Zacharias Center, and we’ve donated food to Blessings in a Backpack, but we are looking for more opportunities to pitch in and give where we live,” Taryn explained.

Nuestro Center Event

Craig Leva, HPCF Board member and liaison to the ALC, reflected on the ALC’s importance to the Foundation. “The ALC is about next generation leadership, so it consists of young leaders that are driven to create awareness about the Foundation, raise funds, and lead in order to help others and our community,” Craig said. He, too, is looking forward to all that is to come. “I am excited about their plans to host community service projects, fundraising events like the terrific Bocce event they held pre-COVID, and social events to move the needle forward for the HPCF.”

Laurie Levin, HPCF Chair, added her thoughts. “Like their peers, the ALC’s families have been dealing with a lot of very tough issues over the past few years. I am happy they feel ready to re-establish themselves and move forward with their goals.” Turning to the relationship between the ALC and Board, she stated “As a Board, we want to engage the ALC in some of the activities we do with our grantees, so they get to know the organizations that help our community in so many ways. The ALC is a springboard for younger people who may eventually want to serve on our Board or become involved in other ways. It’s a good way to learn about the needs in our community and the organizations that address them, and to work alongside a group of people who are 100% dedicated to addressing community needs.”

Bocce Event

Ashley Kelly, the second of three ALC Co-Chairs, says she hopes to focus on microfundraising events. “Through cards, pickle ball, or other micro-fundraisers we can engage community members in fun and impactful ways. We are also looking to do a larger hospitality event—I feel like that’s a good connection point, whether it’s hosting interactive grantee events or just bringing people together in a social event.” Like Taryn, Ashley also commented about the need to engage younger families. “What the Foundation has been doing over the years is so wonderful and impactful. But there is this gap of younger families who have never heard of it, let alone know how much the Foundation helps our community. The ALC can change that. Our main goal has always been to raise awareness among our peers, so younger families see the really great work of the HPCF. We want to inspire them get involved and also to support the HPCF financially.”

ALC member Emily Nasatir joined the Council in 2018 after working for one of the Foundation’s grantees. She was inspired by the important work the HPCF does for both Highland Park and Highwood. “For me, what really resonated was HPCF’s vision of an inclusive and vibrant community where everyone feels welcome and comfortable regardless of socioeconomic status, race, creed, etc. All of the ALC members are professionals who care about the community; we’re the next generation that is deeply committed to our community and to everyone who lives here; and we want to make sure that there is equitable access within the community.” To Emily, that vision can be achieved by supporting the organizations that address community needs. “We want younger people in the community to learn about HPCF’s grantees and volunteer with their families, so the next generation gets to see the importance of giving back to the community. We are also focused on integrating the Council with the Board, so we understand their processes, and fundraise to support the wonderful work of HPCF’s grant recipients who address the educational, creative and cultural, and human service needs of children, teens, families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities who live in our community.”

With the busy year ahead, the ALC is looking for additional members. If you are interested, please contact the Foundation at info@hpcfil.org and put ALC in the email subject line.

Daniel Management Group Becomes HPCF’s Newest Corporate Champion

Опубликовано: July 9, 2023 в 7:54 pm



The Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is proud to welcome Daniel Management Group (DMG), a multifamily real estate investment and property management firm, to our growing team of Corporate Champions. As a Corporate Champion, DMG will play an essential role in helping us advance our mission of addressing unmet needs in the Highland Park-Highwood community and expanding opportunities for all residents. The support of local businesses, such as DMG, is crucial for funding many of the essential services nonprofits provide for residents. Their support also provides funding for programs that enrich residents’ lives and make our community more vibrant.

Based in Chicago, DMG operates, along with its affiliates DMG Leasing and DMG Capital, over 2,200 multifamily units in Illinois and Wisconsin. The firm believes in improving the lives of their residents as well as enhancing neighborhoods through outstanding customer service, easy integration of technology, luxurious accommodations, and energy-conscious practices. To DMG, management matters when it comes to housing, and they are known for their attention to detail, exceptional customer service, and dedication to providing quality, customized living experiences. They believe that proper management is truly what transforms a living space into a home, and the results of their efforts are reflected in their properties across the region

Roger Daniel, DMG Founder, and President

With their ties to the Chicagoland area, DMG looks forward to putting their philanthropic foot forward and investing in our community. “DMG is proud to become a HPCF Corporate Champion. Giving back to the communities where we live and serve is central to DMG values. We are thrilled to partner with the HPCF and look forward to being a part of the impact that the HPCF provides to area nonprofits,” said Roger Daniel, Founder & President of DMG.

For DMG, giving back to the communities in which they operate is a priority. Their DMG Cares Day, which gives employees the opportunity to volunteer together, is a pivotal part of DMG’s annual, full team gatherings – and something that is viewed as a unique opportunity for team building and impact. This fall, their Cares Day will be hosted in Highland Park and support a Highland Park Community Foundation grant recipient.

HPCF is honored and thankful to have the support of 12 Corporate Champions: Mesirow, Sunset Foods, First Bank of Highland Park, Kovitz, Autohaus on Edens, Banner Kitchen and Bath, Gregory Auto Group, Highland Park Bank & Trust, Mariani Landscape Architects, Porsche Exchange, Shellé Jewelers, and now Daniel Management Group. To add your business to our growing list, email Terri Olian, HPCF Executive Director, at terri@hpcfil.org.

Sarah Douglas – A Truly Exceptional Teacher!

Опубликовано: June 10, 2024 в 4:51 pm



Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is honored to recognize Sarah Douglas as the 2024 recipient of the HPCF Golden Apple Award! HPCF and a local family foundation initiated the award in 2010 to recognize outstanding teachers in the Highland Park public school system. Nominees must have completed four full years of teaching, and nominations rotate among the elementary, middle, and high school levels of teaching. This year, teachers who work full-time at Highland Park High School were eligible for nomination.

“A Selection Committee, comprised of exemplary current and retired educators, administrators, and former HPCF Golden Apple Award recipients evaluate applications and complete a full day of observation for each of the finalists. The final recipient of the award is chosen based on instruction, content knowledge, student and staff interaction, and contribution to school and community,” said Sara Sher, Chair of the HPCF Golden Apple (HPCFGA) Committee. The committee received many impressive nominations, and after a rigorous and intensive review process, narrowed the nominations to two finalists: Sarah Douglas and Remington Clark. Sarah Douglas was ultimately selected as this year’s recipient.

Sarah Douglas teaches physical education, adaptive physical education, team sports, and traffic safety at Highland Park High School for grades 9-12. With a background in general education, she has gone above and beyond what is expected of her, stepping into the role of a special education teacher as an inclusion modification specialist. As a colleague noted, “Sarah has a gift for making sure that every student, regardless of physical limitations, participates in a meaningful way. She orders special adaptive equipment, makes adaptive equipment out of household items, and celebrates the big and little accomplishments of her students. She made a hockey stick, for example, using part of a typical hockey stick, a pool noodle, and other supplies for a student in a wheelchair.” Recently, Sarah applied and was awarded a grant for a special driving simulator so that all students in her traffic safety class could practice driving in a safe and controlled environment, especially those without access to “at home” supervised practice time.

Nuestro Center Event

“Sarah not only promotes inclusion, but she fosters it in a way that helps students accept inclusion as the norm. Her level of care for her students reaches beyond the classroom; she encourages and sets an example,” stated Sarah’s observation team. A parent also noted how Sarah’s forges “new pathways” for other general education teachers to increase inclusive measures.

Her dedication to inclusivity is not just noticed and appreciated by parents and teachers; the general education students she teaches value her steadfast belief in inclusivity and accept inclusion as the norm. Sarah Douglas has made a lasting impression in the Highland Park High School community, earning the respect of her colleagues, students, and parents through her commitment to ensuring all students feel included and are appropriately challenged in her classroom. As another parent noted, “when a teacher believes in you like Sarah does—she’s like Mary Poppins. She magically makes it happen. Some teachers have it, and Sarah has it.”

Sarah Douglas and Family Members at Surprise Celebration

HPCFGA finalist Remington Clark teaches orchestra and guitar at Highland Park High School. He is known for his engaged and energized classroom environment, which students are drawn to. “His classes have a collaborative feel—like he’s a student with the other kids, and they’re all in this together. He is kind of like the Pied Piper—kids are always following him around,” remarked a parent of one of Remington’s students. Through an enriching teaching style, he enhances both his students’ lives and their academic journeys. “The Mr. Clark effect is his ability to light up a room with his humor, focus, and love for music and the kids,” noted a student.

The HPCF Golden Apple Selection Committee met in early May to determine this year’s recipient and semi-finalist. Sarah Douglas learned that she had been selected as this year’s recipient at a surprise celebration on May 9th, where she was presented with a golden apple statuette and The Sara Sher Excellence in Teaching Prize – a $2,000 honorarium and $500 Apple Store gift card.

HPCF recognizes exemplary teachers to demonstrate the importance of a strong education system in helping young people reach their full potential and in shaping lifelong learners. For more information about past recipients, visit hpcfil.org/awards/golden-applewinners.

New Leadership in the New Year!

Опубликовано: January 9, 2024 в 8:02 pm



Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) enters the new year with a change in leadership. Laurie Levin has assumed the role of Chair; Eric Ephraim, Vice-Chair; David Israel, Treasurer; and Jon A. Levey, Secretary. Though no longer Chair, Betsy Brint remains a member of the Board.

Before stepping down, Betsy reflected on the significance of her time leading the Foundation. “These past two years presented me with challenges I didn’t expect. To be fair, the challenges that faced our community as a result of the Highland Park shooting were not expected by anyone. But thanks to the support of our Board, the City, and our community as a whole, chairing both the HPCF and the July 4th Shooting Response Fund became my focus, my mission, and my greatest honor. I was both depleted and fulfilled, but mostly just proud to be able to help any way I could.” Contemplating what lies ahead, she added, “Laurie Levin has been at my side as Vice-Chair through thick and thin these past two years. She will take the HPCF to the next level with her quiet competence and knowledge of the arts. I’m thrilled to pass the torch to her, and know the Foundation is in most excellent hands.”

Former HPCF Chair Betsy Brint

A Highland Park resident since 1988, Laurie has extensive experience in the arts, having earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from The Juilliard School. Yet, her expertise extends far beyond the arts. She received her law degree in 1984 and, after practicing in large New York and Chicago firms, started her own firm, Fox Swibel Levin & Carroll LLP, in 1996, where she continues to work full-time. The intersection of these two interests gives her a unique perspective on how to further the Foundation’s mission of addressing unmet needs and enriching our entire community. Considering her role in the future of the Foundation, she stated, “As we heal together as a community, reeling from a few very rough years, the HPCF is well positioned to be the beacon for so many organizations at the forefront of the healing process. I hope to build on the outpouring of generosity and good will of our residents, so the Foundation is central to the spirit of Highland Park and Highwood. Most important to me is building bridges – between grantee organizations by providing opportunities for them to coordinate, cooperate, and learn from each other; between business owners and nonprofit organizations; between school districts, parents, students, and the nonprofits that support them; and between neighborhoods and neighbors where many still struggle. Lastly, I look forward to adding new members to our Board to ensure we reflect the diversity, interests, and cultural richness of our community.”

HPCF Chair Laurie Levin

Eric Ephraim, former Secretary and now Vice-Chair, brings his financial expertise and experience in community engagement to the Board. Professionally, Eric is the CEO and President of First Bank of Highland Park and First Bank Chicago. A Highland Park native, Eric attended West Ridge, Red Oak, Edgewood, and Highland Park High School. His work, longtime ties to the community, experience as Treasurer of the 112 Education Foundation and the Giants Football Fund, time spent as President of the Rotary Club of Highland Park and Highwood, and service as a NSSD 112 School Board Member and Board President make him an invaluable asset to the Foundation. Eric looks forward to the upcoming year, stating, “I’m excited to support Laurie in her leadership of HPCF. We have an excellent group of engaged board members and professionals with deep passion to serve Highland Park and Highwood. I’m confident we will continue to strengthen our community by fulfilling our mission.”

HPCF Vice-Chair Eric Ephraim

Jon A. Levey, President of Highland Park Bank & Trust, is an Executive Board Member, HPCF’s Investment Committee Chair, a two-time Co-Chair of the Foundation’s Gather for Good event, and now Board Secretary. An over 20-year resident of Highland Park and a strong proponent of community service, he is active in many Highland Park and Highwood community groups and organizations, and thus brings a vast amount of service as well as professional experience to the Board. Regarding his new position, Jon said, “I’m excited to continue as a leader within the HPCF and expand my role. I’ve been a passionate supporter of the Foundation for many years and have served on the boards or advisory boards of some of our grantees, too. These organizations are paramount to our community’s well-being. It’s such a gift to live in a community like Highland Park and Highwood that places such value on community service. It is my privilege to increase my service to our community through my contributions to the HPCF.”

HPCF Secretary Jon Levey

David Israel, who continues as Treasurer of the Foundation, has lived in Highland Park for nearly 47 years. As a Wealth Advisor with Mesirow Financial, he helps individuals, families, and small businesses manage their financial assets. As a HPCF Board Member, he serves not only as Treasurer but is also an active member of the Investment and Grants Committees. David’s dedication to his community is reflected in the time he puts into ensuring the Foundation is well-positioned to address community needs. In speaking about the upcoming years, David said, “I look forward to continuing in my role and helping the Foundation achieve its goals. As the Foundation has grown larger, so have the responsibilities of our Board. We are ensuring that we have money available for grants now and in perpetuity.”

HPCF David Israel

HPCF Board Members thank Betsy for all she has done for the community and Foundation over the past two years; proudly welcome Laurie, Eric, and Jon to their respective roles of Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary; and thank David for continuing his service as Treasurer. All will lead with passion, skill, and a commitment to service and our community, which will improve lives and strengthen our entire community.

Together Highland Park Unidos Distributes $5.8 Million in Donations to Victims and Organizations

Опубликовано: December 10, 2022 в 5:06 pm



Together Highland Park Unidos, the Committee established by the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) to manage the distribution process for donations made to the July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund, announced that the Fund raised a total of $5.8 million. The Committee distributed 100% of the funds to victims of the mass shooting and nonprofit organizations providing mental health and other services for victims and community members impacted by the shooting.

“We are grateful and honored to distribute these gifts of compassion,” said Betsy Brint, HPCF Chair and Chair of the Fund Committee. “We thank the generous individuals, private foundations, businesses, and other organizations that contributed to the Fund to help victims in the aftermath of the senseless shooting.”

The funds were distributed according to the Committee’s Final Protocol, $5,225,102 to individual claimants and $580,025 to nonprofit organizations.

Eligible individual claims were grouped into three categories:

A. Death Claims and Permanent Catastrophic Physical Injury Claims

B. Physical Injury Claims for Victims Requiring Overnight Hospitalization

C. Physical Injury Claims for Victims Treated at Hospitals, Medical Facilities, or by a Medical Professional Solely on an Out-Patient Basis

9 individuals
10 individuals (29 total nights)
47 individuals

Out of respect for the families and their privacy, the individual names and amounts of gifts from the Fund will not be published.

The individual claims process was managed by the Fund’s Volunteer Administrators Bruce Boyd and Eric Kessler. In reflecting upon their work, they stated, “While we would never be able to fully compensate victims for their suffering, it is our hope that the gifts might help them deal with the impact of this tragic event. It was an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity.”

The HPCF managed the organizational claims process. Seventeen organizations received grants, based on the increase in and type of client services they provided to victims and the community as a result of the shooting.

Family Focus Highland Park
Families Helping Families Chicagoland
Family Service of Glencoe
Family Service of Lake County
Fenix Family Health Center
Gratitude Generation
Highland Park Public Library
Highwood Public Library & Community Center
JCC Chicago
JCFS Chicago
Laurie S. Bauer Foundation for Sudden Loss
North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic
Rainbows for All Children
Southeast Lake County Faith in Action Volunteers
The Balance Project
Youth Services

Together Highland Park Unidos will issue a full report explaining the distribution and grantmaking process, which will be shared with the public and posted on the Together Highland Park Unidos website, July4Fund.org. Additionally, an independent Fund audit will be conducted by RubinBrown, a public accounting firm donating their services. A list of donors to the Fund will also be released.

The advice of nationally recognized experts in Fund administration as well as the assistance of local community and nonprofit leaders, the City of Highland Park, pro bono legal counsel from Latham & Watkins, and pro bono website design from Elevate Creative Group enabled the Committee to fulfill its commitment that none of the donations received would be used for administrative or similar expenses. The HPCF covered all incidental expenses including online donation transaction fees. This ensured that 100% of all donations was distributed to victims and organizations helping them and impacted community members.

A second fund, the July 4th Recovery Fund, has been opened by the Highland Park Community Foundation to accept donations that will be used to address continuing mental health needs and other services resulting from the shooting.

“We recognize that no amount of money can compensate for loss of life or injury from such a horrific event,” said Betsy Brint. “These payments are gifts of compassion, and our hope is that they will serve as a comforting reminder of how much people care.”

About Highland Park Community Foundation: The Highland Park Community Foundation was established in 1992 at the request of the City of Highland Park to build and maintain a permanent endowment fund. As the philanthropic heart of the community, the HPCF improves and enriches people’s lives with annual grants to nonprofits that provide educational, social service, and cultural programs for Highland Park and Highwood residents. The Foundation’s avowed purposes are to expand opportunities and address the unmet needs of the community – needs that are not met by governmental or other sources.

Katerina Shutman – Recipient of the 2024 Highland Park Community Foundation Personal Achievement Award!

Опубликовано: June 9, 2024 в 8:44 pm



Since 2018, in May of each year, the Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) has recognized a graduating Highland Park High School (HPHS) senior with the HPCF Personal Achievement Award. The award honors a student who has “persevered despite obstacles or disability, thrives in the school environment, is a hard worker and a positive influence, and elicits a feeling of joy from those who interact with them,” said Jean Meadows, HPCF Board Member and Personal Achievement Award Committee Chair. In recognizing students who display these qualities, HPCF honors those who demonstrate resiliency and dedication to their education. This year’s recipient, Katerina Shutman, possesses every one of these qualities.

Katerina Shutman with HPHS teacher Katrina Tolemy at HPHS Honors Night.

Katerina demonstrated a consistent commitment to her education as well as her long-term goals throughout her high school experience. “Katerina represents the essence of the Personal Achievement Award,” said Karen Reisin, Committee member. “She is kind, personable, hardworking, self-confident, and determined, despite the obstacles she has faced. Katerina is also an animal lover who hopes to one day participate in the Veterinary Assistant program at CLC, and her ambition and hard work have already brought her closer to achieving this goal.” Through work study and job training at HPHS, she developed her vocational skills so well that she was recently hired as an official employee at Green Bay Animal Hospital

L to R: HPCF Chair Laurie Levin, HPCF Board Member Betsy Brint, Katerina Shutman, HPCF Board Member Jean Meadows

Katerina maintained her dedication to achieving her dreams in the face of a number of obstacles that made high school challenging. “Katerina embodies all the qualities of a Highland Park Giant. She is hard-working, thoughtful, polite, and one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She overcame a huge personal loss with the passing of her father during her sophomore year, but she never gave up. She showed her grit and determination to learn skills that would help her be successful,” said one of her teachers, Katrina Tolemy. Katerina’s commitment to preparing for her future, and making sure it aligns with her dreams, is just one of her many admirable qualities

Katerina left a lasting impression on each member of the Personal Achievement Award Committee. “Interviewing Katerina for this award was the highlight of my week! Not only is her smile contagious, but her attitude toward school, learning, work, animals, friends, and life in general, is inspirational. Katerina epitomizes the spirit of the Personal Achievement Award, and I know I am a better person having met her!” said Betsy Brint, Committee member. “We all left the interview smiling; her positive energy is infectious!” added Jean.

Katerina Shutman was awarded the Personal Achievement Award at HPHS’s Student Honors Night. The HPHS Board and Staff congratulate her on all her hard work and wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

And the Recipient of the 2023 Highland Park Community Foundation Golden Apple Award is…. Mirela Vesa!

Опубликовано: June 9, 2023 в 8:50 pm



The Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is pleased to recognize Mirela Vesa as the 2023 recipient of the HPCF Golden Apple Award! The HPCF, along with a local family foundation, initiated the annual award in 2010 to recognize and honor outstanding teachers in Highland Park’s public schools who have completed a minimum of four full years of teaching. The award rotates among the elementary, middle school, and high school levels of teaching. This year, nominations were accepted for teachers who work full-time in pre-K through 5th grade classrooms.

“Each year, a Selection Committee comprised of exemplary current and retired educators, administrators, and former award recipients evaluates a large number of applications and completes a full day of observations for each of the final three candidates. The recipient is chosen based on content knowledge, instruction, staff and student interaction, and contribution to school and community,” said Sara Sher, Chair of the HPCF Golden Apple Committee. After receiving many excellent nominations and completing a rigorous review process, Mirela Vesa was chosen as this year’s recipient. Rachel Joseph and Meredith Rossman were selected as this year’s semi-finalists.

L-R: HPCF Board Member Jean Meadows, HPCFGA Recipient Mirela Vesa, HPCFGA Committee Chair Sara Sher

Mirela Vesa, the 2023 HPCF Golden Apple honoree, teaches a pre-K self-contained special education individualized learning program classroom. Her extensive knowledge of early childhood education and expertise in special education allow her to support the variety of needs, strengths, and talents that exist in her classroom. Yet, they are only part of what helps her students reach their full potential. Mirela’s devotion to her students ensures that each child’s strengths and interests are supported and the needs of each are addressed. She also forms significant and meaningful relationships with them. Mirela meets their various academic, emotional, linguistic, and social needs, pretty much doing the job of two teachers by having to plan for twice as many diverse learners as is typical. With Mirela, though, it’s not a job, it’s a calling. She teaches her students to celebrate their similarities and differences, creating an empathetic classroom environment modeled after her own caring nature. The impact she has on those in her classroom is reflected in remarks made by the students’ parents. Mirela is a “magical unicorn kind of person” noted one parent, a “superhero/superhuman,” noted another, when reflecting on what sets her apart as an educator

Rachel Joseph teaches kindergarten at Braeside Elementary School, where she brings extraordinary energy to the classroom. Rachel remembers being a student who did well in school, thanks to the teachers who took the initiative to get to really know her as a person, and views herself as “paying it forward” with her own teaching. By empowering her students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, Rachel nurtures well-rounded students who strive to be their best selves and succeed in every aspect of their lives. She fosters her students’ strengths by recognizing and focusing on each student’s individual needs through her curriculum and connecting with her students in a personalized manner.

Meredith Rossman exemplifies what it means to be a role model for her fourth graders at Sherwood Elementary School. Beyond ensuring her classroom is a place that encourages and facilitates education, she makes sure it is an inclusive and safe space for all. She helps students become the best possible version of themselves and world changers. She also, as one administrator commented, “connects with kids in a way that can’t be taught.” The impact of her excellent character goes beyond the classroom. Her positivity is infectious and spreads to both her colleagues and students. From her command of the subject matter to the overall culture of learning she cultivates in her classroom., Meredith distinguishes herself as an educator.

HPCFGA Recipient Mirela Vesa

The HPCF Golden Apple Selection Committee met in early May to determine this year’s recipient and semi-finalists. Mirela learned she had been selected this year’s recipient at a surprise celebration on Tuesday, May 9, where she was presented with a $2,000 honorarium, $500 Apple Store gift card, and “Golden Apple” statue. Mirela Vesa, Rachel Joseph, and Meredith Rossman were all honored at the May 16th District 112 School Board meeting.

The HPCF plans to continue its annual recognition of exemplary teachers to demonstrate the importance of a strong education system in helping young people reach their full potential and in shaping lifelong learners. For information about past recipients visit hpcfil.org/awards/golden-apple-winners