Jacksonville Promise Presses Forward Despite Tough Year

By Benjamin Cox on May 22, 2020 at 5:11am

The Jacksonville Promise group is fighting back against recent bad news. Dr. Charles Sheaff of the Jacksonville Promise Board says that the group is maintaining their efforts to increase their giving to students in Fall despite the COVID-19 pandemic economic downturn and the loss of MacMurray College. He says that now more than ever it’s important to keep students local to drive the economic engine of the community. He says they are trying to find innovative ways to raise funds with normal fundraising efforts not available. “We’re worried that our fundraiser in the Fall may be effected. We do not really know whether the social distancing is still going to be a problem or that so many people will even be able to go to the fundraiser or who would want to or if there will even be one. I think right now we are trying to investigate how we can do that digitally and online. Perhaps have an auction that is digital and that’s online associated with that. I think we are going to have concentrate on snail mail and email circulation, which will help keep our name out in the community but will cost us some money so we can still engage the public for fundraising.”

Sheaff says that they have once again received a significant grant from the Tracy Family Foundation. “They have once again given us a little wind at our back with a $30,000 matching grant, but they try to incentivize us to raise a little more money each year that we raised the previous year. That matching kind of kicks in at the end of the money rather than right at the beginning. They want us to raise $40,000 of personal contributions excluding government and corporate donations before the matching kicks in for additional personal funding. They would like for us to raise $10,000 on the government side and $10,000 on the business side, so it’s going to be a hard task to get all the funds raised to achieve the match from the Tracy Family Foundation.”

Sheaff says that the group increased pressure on itself this year by promising 3 semesters of help to scholarship recipients instead of two. Sheaff says that there will likely be around 30 scholarships awarded for the fall. “We don’t want to withdraw from the 3 semester goal. We want to press ahead and try to meet that goal, because we think that now more than ever with the downturn in the economy and MacMurray College closing, and economic engine is important to Jacksonville. I hope the downturn in the economy isn’t effecting everybody. I hope that those businesses that are able to and are doing well in the face of the pandemic are able to reach into their pocket and help contribute to something that will be of great benefit to all of Jacksonville – to the students, to the colleges, and also to the community by helping increase the financial revenue and embrace the economic engine of the Jacksonville Promise.”

Sheaff says that the MacMurray College closure hasn’t effected the amount of scholarship applicants from the school, as the school was known to bring in most of its students from out of town. He says Illinois College, Lincoln Land Community College, and Routt Catholic High School has strengthened their bonds with numerous applicants wishing to stay local. Sheaff says that about 30 applicants have applied already and he expects more to come in by the end of August. For more information, or for an application visit jacksonvillepromise.org.