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  • Writer's picture815CRT

Introducing 81Thrive

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Newly Launched 81Thrive Initiative to Support Area Nonprofit Organizations Impacted by the Pandemic

We’ve witnessed disruption and loss in ways not seen in our lifetimes. Fortunately, thanks in large measure to the generosity of our community and through the collaborative work of our nonprofits, many of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens are being met. Nonprofits have demonstrated their critical role being on the front lines of the pandemic, but the impacts of this crisis have taken a toll and left them vulnerable.

Data was collected by the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE) on the impact of COVID-19 on 100 nonprofits in our region. They reported program cancellations and disruptions resulting in expected losses of over $28 Million and significant losses in revenue from cancelled event and fundraisers totaling $3.8 Million forcing 1:4 organizations to implement staff furloughs or layoffs. The impact is deep and wide.

When asked what support would be needed to aid in their recovery, top responses included Financial Support (84.1%), Fundraising Assistance (53.7%), Strategic Planning (28%), Financial Forecasting (23.2%), Board Development (23.2%), and other supports including back-office support, program evaluation, and planning for collaborations or mergers.

In response to nonprofit needs, the 815CRT (815 Community Response Team), convened by NICNE, and which includes the United Way of Rock River Valley, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, The Kjellstrom Foundation, Transform Rockford, RACVB and The Workforce Connection, has used this data to develop a strategy to support and sustain area nonprofits.

Up to this point, the work of the 815CRT has focused on supporting basic, essential services for Rockford residents. Now the work will pivot to providing support for nonprofits addressing their own unforeseen needs as the pandemic continues to affect the future viability of our region’s organizations. “It is imperative that our nonprofits not only survive, but thrive, so they are able to provide crucial programs and services for vulnerable individuals, children and families, and offer arts and cultural opportunities, all of which also help the Rockford region thrive,” said Pam Clark Reidenbach, NICNE Executive Director. Nonprofit losses are deep, but the opportunity is great to rebuild and redesign service delivery and systems to ensure sustainability. This is an extremely difficult time for all of us but especially for nonprofits and we cannot afford to lose the vital resources they provide.

The 815CRT is launching the 81Thrive Initiative, which aims to partner with the nonprofit community and provide both funding and capacity building support services to assist in navigating changes while also providing operational funds to meet critical needs. “How we respond to these new realities and the needs of our vital nonprofits will define our community for many years to come,” said John Groh, 815CRT member and Executive Director of the RACVB.

81Thrive seeks to harness the collective generosity of Rockford to help our nonprofits to REBUILD organizations and systems impacted by the worst economic storm of our lifetime in a way that builds capacity and sustainability, REDESIGN and adapt to new realities while infusing financial resources to meet operational needs, and SUSTAIN. Nonprofits are critical to the health of our community, we need them to thrive now and into the future.

Each nonprofit selected to participate in the 81Thrive Initiative will be awarded one of the following: A discretionary financial award for the organization not to exceed $50,000 along with capacity building services up to $25,000 to assess, rebuild, redesign and sustain operations, OR a discretionary financial award toward development of a collaborative not to exceed $50,000 along with professional facilitation to support a collaboration or system improvement.

To be eligible, organizations must be a 501(c)(3) in Winnebago, Stephenson, Ogle, and Boone counties, with a priority given to Winnebago County-based organizations. Eligible organizations can learn more and apply at the 815CRT website ( The 815 Community Response Team’s professional grant making team will oversee the application process and NICNE’s nonprofit industry experts will guide the capacity building component.

The 815CRT’s goal is to raise and deploy $2 million in support of vital nonprofit organizations in our community. “We are reaching out to the community to ask you to join us, other grantmakers and donors as we pool resources to respond to needs of our nonprofits. We recognize that we have more leverage and greater potential impact working together. We believe our collective work can do more than individual efforts and coordination will reduce duplication and expedite results,” claims Clark Reidenbach. “This is a rare opportunity to work together in the best interest of our community and the nonprofits we all support.” To learn more about how to give to support area nonprofits, contact one of the 81Thrive Initiative representatives listed below:

Pam Clark Reidenbach

Executive Director, NICNE


Linda Sandquist

Vice President, United Way of Rock River Valley



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