Last year, Northwestern University Dance Marathon passed the $1 million mark, a goal years in the making. Most of the total raised goes to the primary beneficiary, with 10 percent of the funds going to the Evanston Community Foundation each year. The primary beneficiary, however, changes every year after careful consideration of proposals from prospective organizations. Here's a look at the beneficiaries over the past five years, along with the total raised each year.
Total raised: $1,091,130
The cause: CHF focuses exclusively on funding research for congenital heart defects — including diagnosis, treatment and prevention, which their site states is the number one birth defect in the United States. The studies they've funded are quite diverse, and researchers can be awarded as much as $100,000 at a time. CHF works alongside a number of other congenital heart defect organizations in the National Congenital Heart Coalition, which brings together patient groups to improve the lives of those with defects and their families, and they work with physician groups to further their research and promote communication between groups.
Total raised: $854,396
The cause: StandUp for Kids, headquartered in Atlanta, operates in 45 cities in 23 states to help homeless and at-risk youth. Volunteers help youth with basic necessities, often asking "if StandUp for Kids could do one thing for you, what would that be?" during early conversations with those they help. They offer outreach, prevention programs and other resources, such as working with school counselors to promote education among homeless and at-risk youth.
Total raised: $917,834
The cause: Project Kindle provides free camping programs, support services and peer-based education opportunities to children, adolescents and families with HIV/AIDS. They also provide scholarships through their Students Affected by AIDS Scholarship Fund, as well as a Life Skills Retreat for former campers as they transition to adulthood.
Total raised: $933,855
The cause: Bear Necessities provides grants to researchers to develop cures and therapies for pediatric cancer, as well as offering support for children with pediatric cancer and their families through Bear Hugs. Bear Hugs provides a customized experience for the child, as well as financial support and essentials for the family.
Total raised: $708,711
The cause: CURE, established by families of people with epilepsy, provides grants that contribute to eventually finding a cure for epilepsy through exploring new and established areas of research. CURE also works to increase awareness through national media outlets and establish epilepsy as a disease deserving more government funding.