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Serving DeKalb County, IL Since 1993

Essential Skills in DeKalb County


In 2003, the DeKalb County Community Foundation began its CommunityWorks Initiative in DeKalb County. The Community Foundation’s Board recognized the potential of a community foundation as a change agent and community leader. It was ready to use its convening and grantmaking resources to help improve DeKalb County’s quality of life. The Foundation set about getting input from throughout the County on the needs, resources, barriers, and opportunities related to early care and education, land use, and workforce development in DeKalb County.

The Community Foundation's commitment and support to workforce development is made possible by 20 CommunityWorks Funds, generating over $100,000 annually. Thank you to the generous donors who support these Funds!

Learn more about CommunityWorks >

The DeKalb County Community Foundation is committed to workforce development in DeKalb County, IL, by supporting the enhancement of essential skills among youth. The goal is to enhance soft skills education for DeKalb County middle school and high school students while working to improve employer participation in youth workforce preparation. Essential skills (or soft skills) are the social, personal, employment, and cultural skills needed to successfully communicate and relate to others. Essential skills complement hard skills, which are the skills required to perform a job.

Through the determination and hard work of the Foundation's Workforce Development Committee, we have seen great progress in the effort to instill and create awareness of essential skills in our youth.

Essential Skills Results

Essential Skills Enhancement Grants

To assist in the development of essential skills, the Community Foundation created a grant program to support the creation and enhancement of programs, tools, and resources dedicated to teaching these important skills. Essential Skills Enhancement Grants are designed to enhance the development of soft skills or essential skills in middle school to high school aged youth.

Learn more about Essential Skills Enhancement Grants >

Essential Skills For Success Wheel

The Community Foundation worked with middle school educators to promote sixteen specific essential skills identified as lacking in the emerging workforce. As a result, an Essential Skills for Success Wheel was developed, copyrighted, and distributed to area schools and programs impacting middle school youth.

See the Essential Skills for Success Wheel >

Essential Skills Video Series

As a follow-up to the Essential Skills for Success Wheel, a video series was created to highlight the importance of essential skills in middle and high school youth. The Essential Skills Video Series is a FREE, fun, and engaging resource available to schools and educators located in DeKalb County. The packaged series comes complete with five videos and includes additional resources for reflection, learning, and feedback.

Learn more about the Essential Skills Video Series >

Working with the DeKalb-Ogle Workforce Development Consortium and DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, the Community Foundation continues to enhance essential skills within DeKalb County schools through the Industrial Workforce Coordination Pilot Program.

“Now more than ever before in light of the many advances in technology, as employers and educators, we cannot lose sight of the importance of soft skills. These skills set us apart and solidify our relationships with the consumer.”
- Elizabeth Hoppenworth, Director of Resident Services, DeKalb Area Retirement Center and CommunityWorks Workforce Development Committee Member

For questions or additional information on essential skills, please contact Community Engagement Director Teri Spartz at 815-748-5383 or t.spartz@dekalbccf.org.