In addition to raising money for The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, Dance Marathon will also donate funds to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF). DM is ECF's single biggest contributor, directly increasing grant money awarded to local charities.
“Dance Marathon has allowed us to say yes to many more proposals every year, to make larger and more grants than we would without their support,” said ECF Director of Development and Communications Jeremy Barrows.
In 1998, ECF was chosen as DM’s secondary beneficiary and has been ever since; it dispenses DM proceeds to dozens of charitable organizations in the Evanston area every year, according to Barrows. DM is responsible for the most substantial donations ECF receives, excluding funds drawn from permanent endowments.
"This is our 15th year with [ECF]," DM Public Relations Co-Chair Sourav Bhowmick said. "It really speaks to the connection Northwestern has with Evanston. The fact that we make up a large portion of their funding just shows that our students are interested in developing the community."
ECF gives grants in various areas of need such as arts and culture, community development, basic human needs and education. Twenty-seven organizations were given grants in 2011, including the Youth Job Center of Evanston, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and Jumpstart for Young Children, Inc.
Jumpstart partners with universities across the country, including Northwestern, to teach students and adult volunteers how to help kids from low income neighborhoods develop the learning skills they need to excel in school. It aims to set kids “on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late,” according to its website.
Several times during the year, ECF solicits proposals from nonprofits, and then awards grants ranging from about $1,000 to $15,000 (for 2011) and totaling approximately $200,000 overall, on average.
The foundation’s staff aims to evaluate proposals based on their "potential to make an impact in Evanston…and serve the area in very innovative and meaningful ways," Barrows said, adding that dozens of organizations that ECF selects have benefitted directly from the efforts of DM participants over the years.
"DM is a philanthropy organization, but we want to focus on service as well," Bhowmick said. "Partnering with ECF, we can allow students to find ways to volunteer in the community...we just think service is vital, so we're excited to continue this tradition."