Congratulations to our Transformational Grant Recipients

The Community Foundation for McHenry County is celebrating our inaugural year of offering three charitable organizations a Transformational Grant. Each grant provides funding of up to $75,000 -  some of our largest grants to date - creating a true force of positive change in McHenry County!

Our 2020 Transformational Grants will help: 

  • The Friends of McHenry County College Foundation break down barriers to unemployment through a six-week skill-building boot camp.
  • Community Crosswalk work with the faith community to provide vital health screenings and education.
  • The City of Woodstock achieve their goal of being an Age-Friendly Livable Community!  

The Friends of McHenry County College Foundation, Community Crosswalk, and The City of Woodstock each demonstrated that they have what it takes to be a force of innovation, problem-solving and progress in their community—and inspire real transformation from the ground up. 

City of Woodstock: On the Path to an Age-Friendly Community


Grant: $74,951

Project: Serving Our Elderly Through the Age-Friendly Livable Community Initiative 

Collaborators: City of Woodstock, McHenry County Department of Planning and Development, Independence Health and Therapy, Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies, Satori Pathway LLC.

“This funding provided by The Community Foundation for McHenry County will help create positive changes in housing, transportation, and healthcare options for our growing senior population, with resulting benefits for all community members, young and older,” said Dr. Brian Sager, Mayor, City of Woodstock.

The City of Woodstock is honored to be one of the chosen three, as the grant will fuel the city’s “Serving Our Elderly Through the Age-Friendly Livable Community” initiative. This ambitious endeavor enlists a number of local stakeholders to identify distinct needs and improve quality of life for residents ages 60+ through Woodstock’s Age-Friendly Livable Community participation. The funds will support a comprehensive assessment of housing, transportation, medical, social and employment opportunities.

 “We are grateful for the opportunity to develop Woodstock into a role model Age-Friendly Livable Community and to share our successes with community leaders throughout McHenry County,” said Sager.

Friends of McHenry County College Foundation: Breaking Down Barriers to Employment


Grant: $75,000

Project: Bridge to Success

Collaborators: Friends of McHenry County College Foundation, Home of the Sparrow, McHenry County Workforce Network, McHenry County Mental Health Board, New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, TLS Veterans.

Job security and employability not only impacts the individual seeking work, but it contributes to a thriving local workforce, community and economy. That is why the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation are committed to building a “Bridge to Success.”

This program seeks to assist adults facing obstacles to employment by providing specialized career training while addressing the county’s “skills gap”. A six-week boot camp in manufacturing, health care or information technology is the heart of the “Bridge to Success” initiative, which will help 24 participants gain entry-level technical and employability skills.

“Through a strong collaboration with our community partners, McHenry County College’s Bridge to Success project will address barriers that lead to chronic unemployment or underemployment, and provide a pathway to independence for job seekers, as well as a pipeline of skilled talent for employers. We are so appreciative of the opportunity to impact our community through this effort,” said Dr. Clint Gabbard, President of McHenry County College. 

Community Crosswalk: A New Access Point in Healthcare Delivery


Grant: $60,000

Project: Reducing Health Disparities through Health Ministries

Collaborators: Community Crosswalk, McHenry County PEARLS, the Congregational Outreach Office for Mission Spiritual Care/Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Nathan Kakish, M.D., Epilepsy Health Management, Harvard Community Senior Center, Illinois Migrant Council, Nutrition Educator Daniel Garcia, Project Director Elizabeth Rios, R.N.

As preventive care continues to be an underutilized but powerful tool in health and wellness, some McHenry County leaders are looking to the faith community to increase access and reach more residents.  

Community Crosswalk is working to do just that with their “Reducing Health Disparities through Health Ministries” initiative. By providing countywide access to diabetes screenings, health education, resources and healthcare services in churches instead of clinics or medical offices, the program could potentially impact 650 lives in the first year through this non-traditional delivery model. 

“The Cultivating Health Ministries Collaboration Council is excited to integrate social, spiritual and community health care in churches and houses of worship across the county,” said Kathy McNeil, MS, RN, Vice-President of Community Crosswalk.  

“Working with The Community Foundation for McHenry County, this program partnership will transform the way health care can be delivered to reduce health disparities for McHenry County’s older adult and Latinx populations.”

Making Waves with Transformational Grants

The three recipients’ proposals exemplified the mission and purpose of a Transformational Grant.  Successful applicants showcased how their plans demonstrated true breakthroughs in McHenry County with a focus on collaboration and positive, multi-level change.

“It is absolutely thrilling to see our vision of Transformational Grants come to fruition. This opportunity will continue to be a yearly resource for charitable organizations who are serious about being the change they want to see in their community,” said Deborah Thielen, Executive Director, The Community Foundation for McHenry County.  “True transformation is a lofty goal and even with the best plans and dedicated collaborators, it often requires substantial resources to help move it forward.”

“While we had many praiseworthy applicants, we believe these three proposals have a winning strategy and plenty of heart to create change, provide real world solutions, and live up to the expectations that come with being a Transformational Grant recipient,” said Thielen.

A New and Powerful Annual Resource

Applications for the 2021 Transformational Grants will open in January 2021. The Foundation will provide workshops and additional resources for charitable organizations looking to transform McHenry County. Organizations must apply annually to be considered for a grant of up to $75,000. Organizations are eligible to win up to three years in a row, for a possible total of $225,000.

Congratulations to the 2020 recipients of The Foundation’s Transformational Grants!