Community Foundation Awards Nearly $35,000 for Childcare, Workforce Development

The Community Foundation has awarded $34,556 from the Communityworks Endowment Fund to eight not-for-profit organizations for local projects advancing workforce development and childcare/early childhood education.

A strategic grantmaking fund, the Communityworks Endowment Fund supports promising projects in Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike Counties, IL that align with the Fund’s vision and goals. Visions include building a large pool of educated, professional childcare providers, educating parents on the benefits of quality childcare, and ensuring current and future workers are prepared with the skills needed to fill existing, expanding and new employment opportunities.

“Child care and workforce development are two persistent issues that our communities, like many others, face – and often go hand-in-hand,” said Jill Arnold Blickhan, Community Foundation Executive Director. “The programs funded will prepare our youngest community members to be lifelong learners, connect our youth with local career opportunities, and help out-of-work adults gain the skills and experiences necessary to secure and retain employment.”

Organizations and projects receiving grants include:

  • John Wood Community College Foundation for a student internship program, which places students into an internship in the area of early childhood education, agriculture or welding with an employer who agrees to mentor them in the job for which they are training.
  • Junior Achievement for its “Start with the End in Mind” curriculum in which students complete a skills assessment to identify their strong skills and skill deficits, learn the need for strong essential skills and learn to strengthen weak skills.
  • Madonna House for its prevention program for individuals at risk of homelessness. This includes individual case management for employment readiness and life skills training, and everyday life skills classes, a comprehensive career development program, for youth and adults.
  • Mississippi Valley Boy Scouts of America to develop Career Exploring posts in Brown and Hancock Counties, allowing co-ed youth ages 14-18 to prepare for and gain skills in careers such as law enforcement, medical service and auto mechanics.
  • Western Illinois Works to conduct a focus group with and develop a strategic plan for engaging in-school youth and out-of-work youth for a pathway to regional employment.
  • Western Illinois Works for the Adams County Work Readiness Team to conduct a workshop for its Essential Workplace Skills Work Readiness Certification process, which fosters the development of essential skills required for obtaining and retaining employment.
  • Regional Office of Education for its “Ready. Set. Grow. Childcare in-Hand” program to instill brain-building practices with parents and childcare providers with the Daily Vroom application.  The program includes teaching sessions at Quincy Vocational Childcare high school classes and JWCC childcare training classes.
  • West Central Child Care Connection for its family child care provider mentoring program and a campaign to create community awareness about the value of quality child care and the critical need for more programs in Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike Counties.

Another grant was made to Adams County Works earlier in 2016 for InspireWorks, a career planning software program that helps connect students and job seekers to learning experiences and job opportunities.

The Communityworks Endowment Fund seeks annual proposals for projects that strategically align with its Impact Plan, which was originally developed in 2005-2006 and updated in 2016 with the input of a volunteer Advisory Committee. The 2016 Impact Plan showed a continued need for high-quality childcare options and a pipeline of skilled workforce members in our region. It also highlighted an opportunity to begin instilling essential workplace skills at a younger age, as well as connecting local youth to the many career opportunities available in our region.

Communityworks Endowment Fund History

In 2003, the Chicago-based Grand Victoria Foundation offered to provide $250,000 each to Illinois community foundations accepting its challenge to raise $225,000 to build an endowment affecting child care, workforce development, and land use/protection.

The Community Foundation was one of 17 that accepted the challenge and established a Communityworks Fund. A portion of earnings from the permanent endowment will be granted to serve needs and opportunities in the three target areas within Adams, Brown, Hancock, and Pike counties. A portion will be reinvested in the fund for its continued growth thus enabling additional grantmaking for generations to come.

To date, more than $144,000 has been invested into workforce development, childcare and early childhood education programs from the Communityworks Endowment Fund in the counties it serves.

The Community Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization connecting people who care with causes that matter. Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri, it builds permanent charitable funds to address significant needs and opportunities now and in the future.

Founded in 1997, the Community Foundation provides a simple, yet effective, approach to charitable giving, helping individuals, families and organizations reach their philanthropic goals.

It has IRS 501(c)(3) status and contributions made to the Community Foundation generally qualify for the maximum allowable deductions for income and estate tax purposes. While the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri focuses on funds created on a permanent basis, it does accept funds that serve a more limited purpose.

More than $4,000,000 has been distributed since the Community Foundation began making grants in 1999. These grants have helped more than 200 organizations serving communities in 12 counties: Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike, Illinois; Clark, Lewis, Marion, Ralls, Pike, Knox, Shelby and Monroe, Missouri.

For more information, call 217-222-1237, email or go to or


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