Galesburg, IL: Funding Youth Programs
© Pixland/ThinkstockIn 2011, residents of more than 50% of the cities, towns and villages in the U.S. cast their votes
© Pixland/ThinkstockIn 2011, residents of more than 50% of the cities, towns and villages in the U.S. cast their votes in the inaugural Reader’s Digest We Hear You America campaign. The top 20 vote-getting towns received grants that allowed them to kick off (or complete) projects to make their communities even better places to live. This is one of those towns.
The Galesburg City Council knew just how use the prize the town was awarded in last year’s We Hear You America campaign: It gave it to the Galesburg Community Foundation, a civic-improvement group that earmarked the dollars for youth programs and facilities upgrades. “Reader’s Digest gave us the seed money to create a permanent fund,” stated Josh Gibb, the Foundation’s director. “We’ll make a grant every year for youth or community enhancement.”
And the cash kept coming: The city council matched the prize money, and the town’s win inspired businesses and individuals to donate. “Galesburg has experienced a lot of loss. People were feeling weary and tired, and this seemed to energize them,” said Sue Davidson, the town’s public information officer. The campaign “created new leaders — the people who spearheaded and promoted the contest emerged as new and future leaders in the community.”
Mayor Salvador Garza seconded that sentiment. “The spirit of the Galesburg community was uplifted by the We Hear You America initiative in many positive ways,” he said. “It gave a central focus for residents and friends of Galesburg to join together to promote nationally what our good city represents and offers to its visitors and natives.”