For the past 13 years, Friends of Aurora’s After School Programs has assisted children in Aurora elementary schools to read at or above grade level by the time they enter third grade. Janet Momper, the program’s founder, cites statistics showing that children who don’t read at this level are 74% less likely to catch up in later years, diminishing their chance to achieve future success in high school or beyond.
Volunteer reading mentors work with children in the school libraries for 25 weeks after school and in the summer. 85% of the program participants read at or above grade level by the end of second grade. 5,074 students have participated since the program’s inception.
Dunham Fund began supporting the reading program in 2013 with a $100,000 grant and has renewed its support in 2015 with a $120,000 grant that targets second grade students who struggle to read or where English is their second language. This one-on-one program has successfully helped students to read in English who have come from countries as diverse as Mexico, Russia, Togo, Thailand, Burma, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
Dunham Fund awarded a $300,000 grant to establish a permanent endowment to support a John C. Dunham Distinguished Fellow for Collaboration within Aurora University’s Institute for Collaboration in 2015. Tom Cross, former Minority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives, was named as the first Dunham Distinguished Fellow.
Cross was tasked with sharing the story of AU’s John C. Dunham STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Partnership School regionally and nationally and with sustaining the STEM initiative’s momentum through outreach to an ever-expanding circle of public school educators seeking to be more effective teachers in vital STEM content areas.
Tom’s goal is to demonstrate how it is possible, through unique community partnerships, to create an innovative, cost-effective and replicable model that can successfully address the troubling statistic of too few American students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM fields. “By bringing together stakeholders like teachers, corporations, foundations, and community organizations, outdated thinking falls away and new solutions emerge,” says Cross.
As Minority Leader, Cross played a formative role in championing the establishment in August 2014 of the AU STEM Partnership School through his advocacy in the General Assembly. As Distinguished Fellow, Tom now plays an even more significant role in connecting the work being done at the STEM Partnership School with leading government, corporate, foundation and P-20 education leaders throughout Illinois and the nation. During the last ten months, Tom has met and frequently conducted tours of the AU STEM School with representatives of more than 25 corporations, community organizations, foundations, and national and state legislatures.
Some of these STEM supporters included United States Senators Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk, Illinois Secretary of Education, Beth Purvis, United States Congressman Randy Hultgren, and members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. Tom’s meetings with corporations, community organizations and foundations have included Tellabs, Nicor Gas, Intel, UPS, Microsoft, AT&T, Advance Illinois, Adler Planetarium, Valley Industrial Association, Museum of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Ounce of Prevention, and the McCormick, Joyce, and McGowan Foundations. Tom’s influence in the state’s education arena will continue to broaden with his recent appointment by Governor Bruce Rauner as chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
In November 2015, Cross provided the impetus for another exciting endeavor on AU’s campus by creating and coordinating the first of an Aurora University Town Square Public Policy Series, hosting a dialogue on Fixing Illinois. The authors of Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State, Tom Johnson and Jim Nowlan, shared their four decades of experience as Springfield veterans and government observers and their proposed solutions to the current fiscal situation in Illinois. The program was moderated by Rick Pearson, the Chicago Tribune’s political reporter. This and other programs focused on state and national issues will be part of AU’s Town Square Series in the future.
By May 2015, Dunham Fund had matched $375,000 of a $1 for $1 challenge grant to the Association for Individual Development (AID) during the “quiet” phase of its capital campaign. The grant, awarded in September 2014, matches funds raised by AID up to $750,000 through September 1, 2017. Dunham Fund was a lead donor for this expansive project intended to retire mortgages and upgrade the facilities AID operates to create new and preserve existing support services to meet the needs of the growing child and adult population with disabilities in Kane and Kendall counties.
With these facility improvements, AID will realize savings of more than $300,000 annually that can be redirected to provide essential services. As AID enters the “community” phase of its “For All Their Tomorrows” campaign, more than $1.3 million in gifts and pledges have been secured to date towards AID’s $2.5 million goal.
Under the leadership of the Campaign Co-Chairs, Toni and Bob Vaughan, Sheri and Chuck Miles, and Betty and Retired State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, AID will be able to provide the resources "for those who were born with physical, developmental, intellectual, or mental health challenges. Our community is fortunate to have the compassionate programs and services of AID in the Fox Valley area. AID serves as a reminder that our gifts were meant to be shared with others and that we are all responsible for the world in which we live and for the broader needs of our human family.
AID is launching a community campaign to provide “For All Their Tomorrows” — from housing, employment and community integration to health promotion, recovery services, and crisis prevention. The campaign's success will be determined by how much we are willing to share with others — children and adults who deserve empowering and support to enjoy lives of dignity and purpose. For all their tomorrows, AID invites the community to celebrate today with a life-changing gift.”
To make a gift to AID, visit their website at www.the-association.org.
Dunham Fund offers to its grant recipients and other nonprofit organizations and social service agencies the benefit of posting special events and other educational opportunities on a community calendar hosted on its website. This calendar provides a resource for organizations and agencies to review a comprehensive schedule of upcoming events to facilitate planning and coordination of activities in the Aurora area. To submit calendar entries, contact Holly Sambucetti at 630-844-2775 or email@example.com.