In the early nineties, then Mayor Dan Pierce culled a group of civic-minded leaders from the community to meet and discuss the creation of a Community Foundation for Highland Park. They wanted to build a long-term endowment that would support the growing needs of cultural and social service agencies that the city budget could not support.
By 1992, the Highland Park Community Foundation was established, with the mission of meeting the unmet social service, cultural, educational and environmental needs of Highland Park and Highwood, and promoting philanthropy in the community. The Foundation was granted 501(c)(3) tax status and a far-sighted goal of $1 million was set for the endowment. There were no paid administrators, only volunteers.
A wish list was created that included gifts of art for community spaces, small grants for community programs, some seed money and some pass-through donations.
In 1995 a more aggressive approach to fundraising became necessary in order for the Foundation to expand its support of local service and cultural groups. Several board members spearheaded a new fundraising campaign, raising approximately $300,000.
Since then, the Endowment Fund has reached $2.6 million and continues to grow. In 2012, we granted $131,700 to 25 Highland Park/Highwood non-profit academic, civic, hispanic, social service, arts, senior advocacy and child care programs.
The Highland Park Community Foundation leadership has helped to make Highland Park/Highwood a dynamic community, acting as a catalyst to maximize community resources and provide financial support to the community agencies that enrich the lives of all Highland Park and Highwood families.