Like Dunham Fund on Facebook Follow Dunham Fund on Watch Dunham Fund on YouTube Follow Dunham Fund on Twitter


The Dunham Fund gives grants for both programs and capital projects. The Fund primarily supports grant proposals for new or uniquely enhanced projects or programs in the focus areas of Education and Community Development.


Grants are ordinarily made for one year only and are currently limited to $1 million annually, though some requests are for as little as $2,000.

Organizations seeking Dunham Fund support should submit a Letter of Inquiry prior to February 1 (Grant Cycle I) or prior to June 1 (Grant Cycle II). Organizations that have proposed projects of interest to the Dunham Fund will be extended an Invitation to Apply for a grant.

Kaneland Fine Arts Festival















Sign up for Dunham e-News


Organizations the Fund Supported in 2013

The Dunham Fund supports both programs and capital projects that respond to community needs primarily in the areas of Education and Community Development. The Fund provided the following grants and scholarships in 2013.

Fred Rodgers East Aurora Magnet School/$660,000
The Dunham Fund presented a grant of up to $660,000 to implement a 1:1 Computer Learning Initiative at the Fred Rodgers Magnet School, founded in 2006 in East Aurora School District 131. Principal Angela Rowley sought the grant in anticipation of the magnet school's plans to triple in size to 750 students in the next school year. Read more...


The total grant will buy a computer device for every student enrolled in the Magnet Academy. With full enrollment, the 1:1 Computer Initiative could provide access to educational software and 300 netbooks for 3th to 6th grade students, 100 MacBooks to 7th to 8th grade students, and 300 Tablet style laptops to 9th to 12th grade students during the academic school year. 1:1 Computer Learning will enhance and enrich the traditional magnet school curriculum, increase focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives, and improve the quality of life for all of the Magnet School students and their families.


Wayside Cross Ministries/$500,000 (to be paid in 2014)
This Dunham Fund grant will support the construction of a 47,000-square-foot facility on the current Wayside Cross property on East New York Street in Aurora. Two of the current 100-year-old WCM buildings will be demolished to accommodate the new four-story facility, which will include the second-floor Dunham Educational Center. Read more...


The organization has raised $4.5 million to date of a $7.9 million Bridge to Life campaign goal from other funding sources and anticipates receiving an additional $1 million dollars in 2013. Building will commence in mid-summer 2013 as WCM reaches its $5.5 million threshold for construction. From its timely beginnings in 1928 as a rescue mission for transient men, Wayside Cross has developed transitional ministries for men, women and their children, at-risk youth, the incarcerated, and ex-offenders. Current programs include Master’s Touch men’s residential life transformation program, Lifespring women’s residential program, Hope Outreach, Elgin Wayside Center day facility and support program, the DuPage Initiative for the homeless in DuPage County, New Life Corrections for youth and adult offenders in Illinois prisons and Urban Youth Ministry for Aurora’s youth in at-risk areas and circumstances.



John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University/$500,000 of a $2,350,000 grant to be paid over a four year period ($835,000 in 2012, $500,000 due on June 1st of 2013, 2014 and 2015)
This Dunham Fund grant will help to build a $12 million dollar STEM Partnership School on the Aurora University campus to implement an innovative and collaborative mathematics and science educational program for 3rd through 8th grade students from Aurora West 129, Aurora East 131 and Indian Prairie 204 School Districts. Read more...


By naming the school in John Dunham’s memory, the institution will celebrate the role of the Dunham Fund in prompting development of the STEM proposal and serving as the project's inaugural donor. The partnership school will be the culmination of a three-year planning process spearheaded and coordinated by the Institute for Collaboration that also includes an Aurora Mathematics and Science Education Center Committee made up of additional Aurora and Chicago-area collaborative government, business, school district, educational, and social service organizations and funders.
The STEM Partnership School concept was authorized by the Illinois legislature with the passage of special legislation that had bipartisan support. The STEM program addresses the documented need to promote math and science education to middle school age students with the hope of increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education interest at the local high schools. The program also provides for teacher development opportunities in STEM through the graduate program at Aurora University and the opportunity for the university’s undergraduates majoring in education to receive enhanced classroom experiences at the partnership school.
Click here to learn more about the STEM Partnership School.


RiverEdge Park Dunham Pavilion/$278,000 final installment of a three year, $2,000,000 Grant
This grant is the final installment of a $2,000,000 Dunham grant which names the John C. Dunham Pavilion, the concert and entertainment venue that is an integral part of the new RiverEdge Park and Nature Conservancy project conceived by the City of Aurora, Illinois Downtown Redevelopment Commission to enhance the quality of downtown community and commercial life and to revitalize the environment along the banks of the Fox River.


Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab, Kennedy School at Harvard University/$276,308
At the Council on Foundation's Annual Conference in Chicago in April 2013, Dunham Fund Board member, Ryan Maley, along with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Rockefeller Foundation President, Judith Rodin, announced support of the implementation of an Illinois Social Impact Bond Program. Read more...


According to Governor Quinn, the program provides the state with ways to “scale and sustain programs with proven track records”. Social impact bonds are innovative financing mechanisms for social programs in which government agencies pay for real, measurable social outcomes only after those results have been achieved.  The state signs a “pay for success” contract with a service provider to implement and monitor a particular social service program identified as critical to the state's well-being. The state social impact bonds are issued and the investors provide the upfront costs of the program and receive an investment reimbursement and reasonable return when the program outcomes have been achieved.


The Dunham Fund provided a $276,308 grant to Kennedy School at Harvard University to bring a fellow from its Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab to Springfield to identify the most critical social needs in the state that would respond well to this sort of investment. Although the Dunham Fund usually limits grants to the Aurora area, this state-wide program can provide local not-for-profits additional funding resources, as well as help other services expand their programs into the Dunham Fund service area.


To learn more information about Illinois Social Impact Bonds, click to to view a video or click here to explore the RFI document from the State of Illinois.


VNA Health Care/$250,000 Challenge Grant, matching $1 for every $2 of additional funding secured from other sources for the building project by June 30, 2014. As part of the grant, the Dunham Fund Partnership Officer will assist VNA Health Care with the fundraising for the challenge match. Read more...

This Dunham Fund challenge grant could provide up to one-third of the $750,000 of the VNA Growing to Serve capital campaign goal projected to build Phase I of a second VNA Federally Qualified Health Care Center (FQHC) on Farnsworth Avenue on the east side of Aurora. Phase I construction will be completed in late autumn 2013 and will house a minimum of twenty exam rooms in 11,000 square feet. In its first year of operations, this facility is conservatively estimated to provide 13,560 health exams to low-income men, women and children facing barriers to affordable health care in Kane County. Currently VNA Health Care serves one in eleven residents of Kane County and the organization anticipates that this number will only continue to rise. 25,000 people are currently served at VNA’s FQHC on Highland Avenue on Aurora’s west side. It is estimated that 32,000 additional individuals are not receiving care from VNA or any other FQHC in eastern Aurora. VNA Health Care is accredited by The Joint Commission and is the lead agency in Kane and Kendall Counties for implementing the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program, providing life-saving screenings and care for thousands of women throughout the region.



Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley “Doing Our Part”/$250,000 Matching Grant
December 31, 2013 at the Paramount Theatre marked the kick-off of a yearlong initiative between the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley and the Dunham Fund. Guests were invited to participate in the initiative’s kick-off and also to ring in the New Year with a Paramount performance of “Piano Men: A Tribute to Elton & Billy.” Read more...

The foundations’ initiative, Doing Our Part, will strategically support some of the Aurora area’s most pressing issues. Coordinated by both foundations, fields-of-interest will be identified by area experts, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders as priority issues to be addressed in the future. Early in 2014, one field will be identified and will become a focus of collaboration and fundraising efforts throughout the year.


A Field-of-Interest Fund will be established at the Community Foundation to accommodate the fundraising efforts. To establish the fund, the Dunham Fund has made a $250,000 challenge grant matching $1 for every $1 raised from other sources. The Community Foundation and the Dunham Fund will cultivate new donors to the fund and will collaborate with nonprofit organizations working within the identified field-of-interest to select funding opportunities that will provide specific, measurable results. Those in attendance at the celebration were asked to fill out a card identifying their personal thoughts on the top three most pressing issues facing communities in the Aurora area. Additional focus groups will be held to identify the critical fields-of-interest.



North Central College Teach First Program/$200,000
Since 2011, the Dunham Fund has supported Teach First, a program developed by North Central College, to recruit and retain first-generation students who aspire to be teachers and to provide the mentorship and resources to launch these students into a successful teaching career.


This multi-faceted mission is fulfilled through partnerships with high-need elementary and secondary schools in Aurora, where Teach First students engage in educational outreach projects, obtain field experience and complete teaching internships, and, in some cases, are hired as full-time teachers. This program began as a partnership with East Aurora School District 131 to encourage East graduates to pursue the field of teaching with the hope they will return to their home school district as teachers. In 2012, North Central expanded the program to offer Teach First to first-generation students in 14 high schools and home schools.


With the Dunham Fund 2013 grant of $200,000, Teach First will be able to include potential Dunham Scholars who are not first-generation, but reside in the Fund’s service area, and will increase the pool of potential scholarship recipients to recruit from 7 additional high schools. The program will also offer travel and registration for a state or national education conference and will start to provide tiered scholarship awards, beginning at $7,500, as students advance through the education program. With the additional funding, Teach First will also pilot an outreach program to work with high school administrators and counselors at Aurora high schools to provide first year students with the Lumina Foundation’s book “First in the Family: Advice About College from First-Generation Students, Your High School Years”, with the goal of identifying and recruiting students who exemplify the characteristics of effective educators for a teaching career.


The 2013-2014 Teach First Dunham Scholars are: Kaytlyn Becker, Aurora Christian High School, transfer from Illinois State University; Katherine Drone, Waubonsie Valley High School; Ashley Golembeski, Oswego High School; William Hennessy, Oswego High School; Chelsea Lorenz, Aurora West High School, transfer from Waubonsee Community College; and Lauren Stercay, Waubonsie Valley High School, transfer from College of DuPage.



Paramount Theatre/$105,000 second installment of a two-year $230,000 grant ($125,000 in 2012, $105,000 in 2013) for performances in the City of Aurora’s RiverEdge Park.
$125,000 of this $230,000 grant to the Paramount Theatre provided the Season Sponsorship by the Dunham Fund of all City of Aurora sponsored performances for RiverEdge Park’s inaugural season, from June through September 2013. Another $105,000 grant was awarded to engage Idina Menzel, a world-class artistic and Tony Award winning performer in “Wicked.” Ms. Menzel performed with full orchestra in the Dunham Pavilion at RiverEdge Park on July 19, 2013 during its inaugural season. This grant provided free general admission to the performance.


Kaneland Schools Foundation/$101,339
This Dunham Fund grant to the Kaneland Schools Foundation will provide the Fox Valley Career Center (FVCC) with the start-up funds to purchase equipment and curricular supplies, improve infrastructure, and train instructors for a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) pre-engineering program for Batavia, Burlington Central, Geneva, Kaneland, St. Charles East and West, and West Aurora high schools. Read more...


Project Lead the Way is a national nonprofit organization and a leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM education curricular programs. FVCC will work collaboratively with the administration and student services departments of these high schools on a three-year implementation plan to provide PTLW pre-engineering course offerings and scheduling opportunities for the greatest number of students in its six-member Kane County school districts. Other school districts that offer PTLW pre-engineering course work can statistically show that PLTW students score higher on state standardized tests than non-PTLW students and are more likely to attend and graduate from college in the engineering field.



Friends of Aurora After-School Reading Program/$100,000
This Dunham Fund grant will expand and enhance the Communities In Schools administered Friends of Aurora After-School Reading Program which currently provides after-school and summer reading instruction by trained high school and college mentors to over 250 elementary school children with little or no knowledge of the English language. This program is in partnership with East and West Aurora School Districts to help bring children in second grade to grade level in reading before entering the third grade. The program has plans to expand to another school and will recruit young teachers from each school to act as mentors to the high school and college students who provide the hands on instruction to the second-graders.


Quad County Urban League/$100,000
This grant will fund Quad County Urban League’s Tomorrow’s Scientists, Technicians, and Managers space (TSTM) program which has the objective of exploring science, technology, business and mathematics opportunities in various business fields with minority middle and high school students.


One Hope United/$50,000
This grant will support One Hope United’s efforts to achieve National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation for the new Aurora Early Learning Center. With accreditation, this center will be a best practice center and demonstration lab for Aurora’s child care professionals. Read more...


Of the 35 licensed centers in Aurora, none are accredited and only four participate in the Illinois Quality Rating System. This $50,000 grant will provide the playground, classroom equipment, and staff development training necessary to achieve accreditation. The Aurora Early Learning Center will coordinate efforts with the United Way and City of Aurora S.P.A.R.K. (Strong, Prepared And Ready for Kindergarten) initiative to invite early childhood providers, educational institutions, and the Aurora Community to share best practices and resources for early childhood learning and to tour, observe and view benchmarks for quality in the NAEYC accredited program.



Kids Hope USA Inc./$48,960
Kids Hope USA Inc. (KHUSA) will utilize this funding to provide ten new KHUSA programs in the Aurora Area within twelve months of the grant award date. KHUSA already offers twelve of these unique church/public school collaborative mentoring programs in Aurora School Districts 129 and 131 to at-risk elementary school students. Not an academic tutoring program, KHUSA’s services focus on “filling a personal void” in the lives of at-risk children who do not feel valued and thus experience barriers to social, personal and academic success. KHUSA builds the partnerships between local churches and public schools and trains church members to mentor at-risk youths identified by the individual school systems.


SciTech Museum/$26,000
This Dunham Fund grant will enable SciTech to extend its educational programming from preschool to all-day Kindergarten and to transform its Early Learning Discovery Academy into the STEM Discovery Academy which will incorporate a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum. The grant will support the STEM Academy Fitness Center for Early Learners at SciTech’s Outdoor Discovery Experience, the Tot-Bot Lab, and SciTech upgrades in technology for learning enhancements. Future SciTech plans include expansion of the STEM Academy to first and second grade.


SciTech Museum/$3,500
In response to SciTech’s ongoing plan to upgrade existing and introduce new science exhibits, the Dunham Fund awarded an additional grant in 2013 to purchase and install a new 3D Virtual Sandbox, which will provide a “hands on” experience to museum guests demonstrating the impact of weather and other environmental factors on the earth’s landscape.


Aurora University Arts and Ideas Program/$25,000
With this grant, the Dunham Fund will be the Presenting Sponsor for the Neil deGrasse Tyson lecture at Aurora University. As part of Aurora University’s Arts & Ideas annual, free-admission community programming, Mr. Tyson’s presentation will be a prelude to the opening of the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at the university. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium, former host of PBS’s NOVA Science Now, and host of Star Talk Radio. He is the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.


Chris Walk Against Substance Abuse/$25,000
The Chris Walk Against Substance Abuse organization is a nonprofit name-sake cause in memory of Chris Foley of St. Charles, Illinois who died of a heroin overdose in 2007. The organization was established by Mr. Foley’s family to secure funding for heroin abuse treatment and prevention. This Dunham Fund grant will contribute to Kane County Sheriff’s Department programs that provide cutting edge criminal and terrorist interdiction training to local law enforcement officers. It will also facilitate the development of a computer database and networking resources to link local employers with Kane County Drug Court attendees to ensure their rehabilitation success.

Feed My Starving Children/$25,000
This Dunham Fund grant will provide a portion of the match for a Covenant Values Foundation $2 for every $1 grant award up to $220,000 in total. Feed My Starving Children is a hunger relief organization that utilizes 100% volunteer labor to package a specifically formulated and vitamin fortified rice mixture which is shipped to missionaries and humanitarian organizations in over sixty countries around the world to feed malnourished children. The Dunham award plus the Covenant Values Foundation match will provide $75,000 in funding to pack close to one million meals.


The First Tee/$25,000 Challenge Grant
This Dunham Fund challenge grant will match $1 for every $1 up to $25,000 to support First Tee’s youth program and to stimulate additional funding from other sources. The First Tee impacts the lives of young people with character education and the application of life enhancing values through access to the game of golf. This grant will continue First Tee's school outreach program to the economically disadvantaged students in grades 4 through 8 in the Dunham Fund service area. Each year, a number of full scholarships for disadvantaged students to attend First Tee's summer programs are offered to each of 40 schools in Aurora School Districts 129, 131, 203, 204 and Oswego District 308.


Joseph Corporation/$25,000
This $25,000 Dunham Fund grant will provide the incentive for Joseph Corporation to raise an additional $50,000 to complete Phase II of floor structural repairs at the Joseph Corporation offices at 32 S. Broadway in Aurora, Illinois. Joseph Corporation is a community-based nonprofit organization that focuses on affordable housing and counseling programs for homeowners. 
Kaneland Schools Foundation/$25,000
The Kaneland Schools Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has contributed for decades to the educational needs of the students of Kaneland Community School District 302. The Kaneland Schools Foundation sponsors an annual arts festival for the educational benefit of area school children, their families, and the community-at-large. This grant provided funding for the 2013 Kaneland Fine Arts Festival.


Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice/$20,000
This grant will support the Cuenta Conmigo (Lean on Me) program of Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice which is the only hospice in the State of Illinois that provides hospice and bereavement care free of charge to the Spanish-speaking community directly (without an interpreter) in their own language. The program continues to provide care to loved ones for up to 16 months after the death of the patient.


Marie Wilkinson Foundation/$25,000 Challenge Grant
This Dunham Fund grant to the Marie Wilkinson Foundation will match $1 for every $1 raised up to $25,000 through November 27, 2013 to support a Matching Pallet Program for both the Marie Wilkinson and Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantries. Two additional “angel sponsors,” Konen Insurance and the Dolan Family Foundation, contributed to increase the matching challenge to $33,000. The Matching Pallet Program was developed to coordinate with the Annual Holiday Food Drive held in the Aurora area. Matching donors to the program purchase pallets of food, ranging from $162 for 900 boxes of cereal (doubled to 1,800 boxes by the sponsoring grantors) up to $1,000 for 6,000 pounds of meat (doubled to 12,000 pounds). The food will be purchased from Northern Illinois Food Bank at the Bank’s substantially discounted prices.


Suicide Prevention Services/$17,000
This grant will replace the HVAC system in Suicide Prevention Services, historic Stone Manor Home offices in Batavia, Illinois. Suicide Prevention Services (SPS) provides an emergency hotline and ongoing counseling to individuals at risk of suicide.


Fox Valley Orchestra/$15,000
This Dunham Fund grant will support increased children’s musical programming during the Fox Valley Orchestra’s 2013 season. New programming includes a Youth Concerto competition, the revival of annual Children’s Concerts at the Paramount Theatre, and new public concerts at Aurora’s RiverEdge Park. The grant will also support the development of an immersive youth music education program that, modeled after the El Sistema program from Venezuela, will remove the economic barrier to entry for poor and disadvantaged children in the Aurora area. This grant will help to match a $50,000 gift from The Brent Wadsworth Family Foundation.


Kane County Sheriff Blue Courage Team/$15,000
This grant will provide specialized leadership training to create a Blue Courage Team of police officers for the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

Aurora Police Foundation/$12,000
The Aurora Police Foundation was awarded scholarship funding for two police officers, with a rank of Lieutenant or above, to attend the Harvard Professional Development School for Senior Executives in State and Local Governments, three-week training program in July 2013. The 2013 recipients were Lt. Keefe Jackson and Lt. Bill Hull. In 2011 and 2012, the Dunham fund provided scholarship funding to the Aurora Police Foundation to send three police commanders to the Harvard training program. In 2011 and 2012, the Dunham fund provided scholarship funding to the Aurora Police Foundation to send Aurora Police Commanders, Chief Gregory S. Thomas, Kristen Ziman, and Joseph Groom to the Harvard training program.


NAMI DKK/$9,000
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions affected by mental illness. NAMI DKK serves DeKalb, Kendall and southern Kane County. This Dunham Fund grant will provide the funding to present two educational programs, Ending the Silence and Parents & Teachers As Allies for two semesters in 2014 in three additional high schools in the Dunham Fund service area. Both collaborative programs help students, parents and teachers identify the basic signs and symptoms of mental illness and the steps toward recovery, particularly for youths between the ages of 16 and 25. Currently the programs are offered at Geneva High School and Marmion Academy.


Senior Services Associates, Inc/$7,500
This Dunham Fund grant will expand the Senior Services Associates’ Aurora-based Health and Wellness Education Project to seniors in Sugar Grove, Montgomery and North Aurora and provide exercise equipment for 25 additional participants. VNA Health Care will team teach the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (in English and Spanish) with SSA, and Aurora Township will provide the transportation to SSA’s Aurora Center.


Chicago Booth School Social Enterprise Initiative/$5,000
This Dunham Fund grant was made to the University of Chicago for their Chicago Booth School Social Enterprise Initiative. The Social Enterprise Initiative aims to enhance the efficiency and impact of social sector organizations through research, data collection, communication, and education. Established to support interest in the nonprofit and social sectors, SEI builds on Chicago Booth’s commitment to rigorous analysis and its discipline-based approach to understanding organizations, markets, and policy. The initiative’s mission is to further the field of research on issues of importance to the social sector and to support social enterprises that wish to apply proven business practices to strategic decision making and organization management.

Click here to view the Organizations the Fund Supported in prior years.