Last year, while attending a destination wedding, Laurie Weaver and her sister-in-law Shelley Weaver had an interesting discussion with Shelley’s childhood friend, Rebecca Powers. “[She] told us about the nonprofit she founded in Austin 16 years earlier called Impact Austin, and Shelley and I thought it was something we could bring to Peoria,” Laurie recalls. Each member contributes $1,000 annually, and the donations are pooled for a charity of the group’s choosing—a way to maximize their collective giving.
A couple months later, Rebecca was in Peoria and Laurie and Shelley invited her to dinner—along with ten of their friends. “After sharing her story, five of the women became founding board members of Impact Central Illinois,” Laurie explains. “We decided we wanted to be part of something bigger, and we can make a pretty transformational impact.” Now with 117 members, the group is preparing to kick off its first grant initiative to give away $117,000 to one local charity in 2020.
They’ve chosen three areas of focus: health and well-being, education, and social and family services. Each has a committee that will evaluate applications and conduct site visits to meet the people behind the nonprofits, as well as those benefiting from them. “One organization in each area of focus will be invited to present to our members at the annual meeting in June 2020,” notes grant chairperson Erin Selvey. “Each member will get one vote, and we will award the grant that night.”
The process will offer members a closer look at local nonprofits, allowing them to understand the needs they’re serving in the community while giving them a voice in where their donation goes. “We want to help women become better philanthropists and be more educated,” Laurie explains.
Any nonprofit interested in learning more about the grant is invited to attend an informational session at 6pm on October 22 at the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. For more information, visit impactcentralillinois.org or call (309) 645-5893. PM