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Community foundation’s spring grants total $170K

Sandwich Opera House among those to get funds

SANDWICH – A new grant is helping officials repair and restore the Sandwich Opera House's 300 seats before it opens for the season in October.

The opera house, at 140 E. Railroad St. in Sandwich, recently received a $15,000 grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation. Officials there will use the money for a $30,000 project to update the seat upholstery from a burgundy color to a darker burgundy color with a crinkle-like pattern, said Sandy Black, Sandwich Opera House executive director.

"They will look very lush after the seats are in," Black said.

The opera house is among 28 nonprofit organizations that received money from the DeKalb County Community Foundation's Community Needs grants. A total of $170,029 in grants was awarded this spring to organizations in the fields of arts and culture, community development, education, and health and human services.

The Community Needs grant is offered in the spring and fall each year. Applications for this fall can be submitted between July 1 and Sept. 1. The foundation will distribute another $170,000 in grants in the fall.

The DeKalb County Community Foundation has awarded a total of $15 million since the organization started 20 years ago. The foundation often provides more funds for projects that nonprofits are already raising money for, said Becky Zantout, DeKalb County Community Foundation grants and community initiatives manager.

"We try to fill our gap in funding to make something happen that maybe otherwise wouldn't," Zantout said.

Indian Valley Vocational Center, at 600 Lions Road in Sandwich, received the largest grant in the spring cycle with $55,000 for its addition of a $1 million health wing. The 7,200-square-foot wing will include four classrooms and one shared clinical lab that will simulate a hospital room setting.

Indian Valley Vocational Center Ron Pieper said they received the check Monday and have enough money to start construction in mid-July. They expect to finish in fall 2015.

The vocational center is paying for about 80 percent of the health wing using money from its fund balance, Pieper said.

"We have other smaller donations, but this is the largest donation to date," Pieper said. "It'll remain one of the largest ones."

Top DeKalb County Community Foundation grants 

• Indian Valley Vocation Center: $55,000 to construct health wing 

• Sandwich Opera House: $15,000 to repair and restore seating 

• Northern Illinois Food Bank: $15,000 to fund the Take 50 Food for Health program 

• Northern Illinois University Campus Child Care: $10,319 to purchase playground equipment 

• Genoa Park District: $10,000 to replace and expand the Genoa Skate Park

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