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DeKalb County foundation part of new statewide philanthropic alliance

The DeKalb County Community Foundation has joined 24 similar foundations from across the state to form an alliance dedicated to philanthropy in Illinois. "We feel there are some synergies we can take advantage of by teaming together," said Jerry Smith, executive director of the DCCF and treasurer of the new Alliance of Illinois Community Founda-tions. "It will be pooling resources in our ability to share information." Smith said the alliance will not be sharing financial resources, only ideas and information. He said the group may also have some legislative influence. "One of the things we're hoping to do is have a legislative reception in Springfield," he said. "Perhaps we can bring some legislative issues forward, though we have no specific ideas at this point." Smith said the executive directors of community foundations throughout Illinois have been meeting informally for several years. They decided recently to organize formally in order to strengthen their networking and marketing abilities. Smith said a news release was distributed throughout the state, and he hopes the new alliance will help bring increased attention and awareness to philanthropic organizations. The DCCF also is planning its first "CommunityWorks town meeting" for the end of September. Smith said the CommunityWorks program is dedicated to building a new endowment specifically for the areas of child care, work force development and land use. The program was started with a grant from the Grand Victoria Casino, and Smith said the casino will match funds raised dollar for dollar after the first $200,000. The goal is to reach $1 million by the end of 2008. The town meetings are intended to gain community feedback on issues that affect DeKalb County residents in the three areas of the endowment. "The first thing we want to do is find out what people are talking about," Smith said. "We want to see what they feel are the key issues and key players in their area in child care, work force development and land use." Smith said the meetings will consist of a summary of the program, breakout sessions on each of the three areas, and public input. The first meeting will be held in Sycamore. "We also plan to have one or two in the south end of the county and one or two in the north end of the county," Smith said. "Once we build that $1 million, we'll be able to kick back 5 percent every year into each of those three areas. This is all about local control and a fund that will be there forever." The first town meeting will be held Sept. 29 at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. For more information, call DCCF at (815) 748-5383. Dana Herra can be reached at dherra@daily-chronicle.com.

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