In 1943, Charles Hoefer, then publisher of the Aurora Beacon-News, convened a group of community leaders to study post-war plans for a better Aurora. Weekly luncheon meetings were held “at the round table” in the Elks Club in downtown Aurora.
The war years were inflationary. Manufacturing plants were operating at full capacity and were extremely profitable. Corporate income taxes were excessively high and business leaders were seeking ways to redirect their profits from onerous taxation to the service of local needs.
Conditions thus were favorable for the formation of a philanthropic vehicle — a community foundation — which would allow for the accumulation of tax-deductible contributions when convenient for the donors. Assets so accumulated would be retained for later distribution to charitable causes as suggested by the donors. These reservoirs of charitable gifts, known as Advisory Funds, could be named after the companies and individuals contributing the gifts.
In June 1948, formal structure was given to this concept through the establishment of The Aurora Foundation. The first annual meeting was held on November 23, 1948 at the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Aurora industrialist William B. Greene was elected president, a position he held for thirteen years. Attorney Frank R. Reid, Jr. served as the Foundation’s first secretary and legal counsel.
Since 1948, the Foundation has grown from 1 charitable fund with assets of $5,000 to over 500 charitable funds with assets of more than $100 million. Although Advisory Funds remain an attractive vehicle for charitable donors, other types of funds have become important to the Foundation and its role within the community.
Scholarship funds have distributed over $19 million to local students. Funds also have been created to benefit social service agencies, educational and healthcare organizations, the arts and culture, religious institutions and the environment. Grants and scholarships awarded by the Foundation since its founding total more than $70 million.
In 2006, the Foundation adopted a new name to more accurately reflect the communities it has always served. The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley continues the proud tradition of The Aurora Foundation by reaching out to citizens of the Greater Aurora Area, the TriCities and Kendall County.
Throughout its history, the Foundation has been governed by a Board of Directors comprised of civic-minded business and community leaders. Board chairmen include (in order of service) William B. Greene, Charles P. Wright, George H. Alexander, Malcolm L. Jones, Neal Ormond, Karl P. Grube, Vernon H. Haase, Frank Voris, F. James Garbe, John F. McKee, Frank K. Voris, John H. McEachern, Jr., Donald A. Schindlbeck, Ruby M. Frank, Albert D. McCoy, Darrell L. Jordan, Thomas S. Alexander, David B. Hipp, Hilary K. Brennan, Ralph D. Voris, Robert P. Hubbard, Neal Ormond III, Mark E. Truemper, John Diederich, Scott Voris and Austin Dempsey.
Six administrators, who have been responsible for the management of the Foundation, include Frank R. Reid, Jr. (1948-1962), Ralph C. Putnam, Jr. (1962-1982), R. Peter Grometer (1982-1985), Sharon Stredde (1985-2015), Jeffrey J. Hartman (2015-2019), and Julie Christman (2020-present).
The Foundation’s current board of directors invites the participation of all who wish to be a part of our continuing development as a charitable resource for area citizens.