In 2003 the DeKalb County Community Foundation was one of 18 Illinois community foundations invited by the Grand Victoria Foundation to participate in an endowment building program aimed at grant making. The CommunityWorks initiative is designed to enhance programs and address issues concerning early care and education, workforce development, and land use that impact DeKalb County.
By 2011, the CommunityWorks initiative had generated $3.7 million in support from Grand Victoria Foundation which included a dollar for dollar match, leveraging $1,045,547 from generous community donors. These donations launched the creation of 20 different CommunityWorks Endowment Funds.
Working with input from the community through town meetings and steering committees, board members and staff develop impact plans in three program areas of Early Care and Education, Workforce Development, and Land Use. CommunityWorks has directed over $165,000 in grants from endowment funds since 2007. As a result, area child care centers improved their overall effectiveness, middle school youth and teachers engaged in building soft skills and municipalities updated their storm water ordinances while DeKalb County launched watershed planning.