HISTORY OF PARK RIDGE COMMUNITY FUND
Founded more than 60 years ago, Park Ridge Community Fund has a long history of assessing local community needs and then raising and allocating funds to approved local non-profit organizations that serve those needs. To understand what PRCF does today, this timeline provides an overview of how our organization was founded and the changes over the years to ensure our focus remains on the needs of our local community.
A group of local leaders sought a better way raise funds for local charities, rather than relying on volunteers solicit door-to-door for individual charities such as the Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, and the Cancer Society. They heard about the consolidated fundraising drives conducted by United Funds in other communities and decided to adopt this approach.
The Park Ridge United Fund was chartered as a charitable organization to solicit and disburse funds to local organizations. Organized as a caucus, representatives from civic groups, clubs, and churches met, elected officers of the PR United Fund, and formed budget and campaign committees. The Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce donated space in the Chamber’s office at 120 Main Street and the Chamber Director, Edgar Lundberg, coordinated activity. Mr. Lundberg became the first Executive Director of the Park Ridge United Fund.
Early fundraising drives were successful with results reported at “U-Nites” on the fourth Monday in October with hourly updates of funds raised posted on a blackboard.
Claire Perlin became Director of both the Chamber and the United Fund.
A rental agreement was written to reimburse the Chamber for office space and for the services of a part-time secretary.
PRUF became affiliated with the Suburban Community Chest Council, which began soliciting payroll deductions from suburban companies that employed local residents. Together, the Suburban Community Chest Council, the Community Fund of Chicago, and the Mid-America Chapter of the American Red Cross formed the Metropolitan Crusade of Mercy. Eventually, the Suburban Community Chest Council became the (UWSC) United Way of Suburban Chicago.
Due to the success of the PR United Fund, it became apparent a dedicated Executive Director was needed. Margaret Marshall became the first salaried Director.
Late 1960s – Early 1970s
The UWSC decided health causes, which were once funded by the funds raised from local campaigns, should not be part of local community United Ways. However, the Board of Directors of the PR organization insisted on their inclusion. In the early 1970’s, the UWSC approved the formation of the Park Ridge Health Foundation, Inc., which would allow the Park Ridge organization to continue to solicit, receive, and distribute charitable funds for health-related causes such as medical research at local hospitals. Through the Foundation, approximately 33% of the funds raised from the local Park Ridge campaign were designated to health-related issues.
The office was relocated to 15 S. Fairview.
During this time period, the residential campaign was at the core of the organization’s efforts. At its peak, the PR United Fund depended on 1,000 volunteers, including area leaders, zone managers, block aptains, and a Budget Committee – all directed with input from the community.
The Metropolitan Crusade of Mercy became the United Way/Crusade of Mercy to reflect its affiliation with the national United Way.
The Articles of Incorporation were amended to officially change the group’s name to the Park Ridge United Way (PRUW). The group resisted pressure to put “United Way” first in its name, instead keeping the emphasis on Park Ridge to highlight its record of achievement, both in funds raised and volunteer commitment.
As volunteers became increasingly difficult to recruit, PRUW conducted its last door-to-door campaign.
The United Way system in Chicago and suburbs was organized into three organizations to meet the needs of a complex, diverse, and dynamic metropolitan area: The United Way/Crusade of Mercy as the overall fundraising arm of the system serving the city of Chicago and the five surrounding counties, and The United Way of Chicago and the United Way of Suburban Chicago as the two organizations allocating funds. However, the UWSC was the only unit that not only allocated funds but also raised funds. Each member United Way also conducted their own fundraising campaigns within their communities in cooperation with the UW/CM.
The UWSC received a share of the monies raised in workplace campaigns and corporate contributions throughout the area, and then those funds were then allocated to member United Ways. While what was raised in Park Ridge always stayed in Park Ridge, the Park Ridge United Way wanted to do more for our local community.
The UWSC implemented organizational changes and consolidated many member United Ways in small communities. It became clear the Park Ridge United Way would eventually be consolidated with the UWSC and dollars raised in Park Ridge would no longer stay in Park Ridge. Since this would reduce the funds to local agencies supported by the Park Ridge United Way, Inc., the Board of Directors decided to disassociate from the United Way organization in order to better serve the agencies serving our community.
The group became legally chartered as the Park Ridge Community Fund, Inc., a 501 (c) not-for-profit organization. The Community Fund absorbed the Park Ridge Health Foundation since there was no longer a need for a separate organization to fund health causes.
Increased financial pressures on the city of Park Ridge resulted in a reduction of community grants provided to local organizations. Many of these looked to Park Ridge Community Fund to fill the gap.
One-third of all funds raised during our annual campaign is still allocated to health-related causes. And as in the past, the residential campaign continues to be the bulk of our collections, however there has been a significant rise in contributions from community businesses as well as employee fund drives from School District 207 and School District 64