Then and Now

In 1988, local citizens came together to establish the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation. Concerned about cuts to state and local education budgets, they wanted to provide a way for individuals and businesses to invest in our local public schools.

These citizens believed that private funds would provide critical assistance when budgets were tight and public funds must be spent conservatively. Those extra dollars would allow teachers to think imaginatively and try new ideas at a time when school administrations could not afford to take many risks. Moreover, the opportunity for teachers and administrators to witness and evaluate small-scale demonstrations or pilot programs leads to greater effectiveness in the use of public funds.

The Foundation made an initial investment of just over $120K to establish a General Endowment and Restricted Investment Fund. Since then, those assets have grown and are currently valued at over $1.5 million. CU Schools Foundation manages 19 Restricted Investment Funds and has disbursed more than $1,740,000. Over the years, more than 160 community members have served on our Board of Directors.

“I sometimes view CUSF as my fourth child, which caused a lot of sleepless nights in the early days. Today I feel like a proud mother of a very successful offspring.”

Anna Merritt
One of the founders and chair
of the first CUSF Board of Directors



  • The News-Gazette announced the formation of the Champaign Urbana Community Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence


  • Incorporated as an Illinois non-profit corporation


  • First classroom grants awarded to school districts


  • Established endowments for classroom grants with donations from Junior League of Champaign Urbana and Carle Foundation


  • Finished decade with over $200K in grants to educators


  • Name changed to Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation (CUSF)


  • Established the Perrino Fund, first endowed scholarship


  • 20th Anniversary celebrated with the announcement of SPLASH grants; $100K disbursed in one hour


  • Received first planned gift for the Judge Fred Green Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Became a United Way affiliate with our Homeless Student Fund: SOS


  • Launched The I.D.E.A. Store


  • Over $1 MILLION disbursed in classroom grants
  • Established cross-district Collaborative Grant Program


  • Received $313K from the Chester and Nadine Houston Trust and $100K from the estate of Vincent O Greene
  • Annual income surpassed $1 MILLION
  • Added four new endowments bringing the total number of restricted funds to 19
  • Total disbursements exceeded $1.7 MILLION

Urbana School District #116 News

  • USD116 Declaración sobre Paros Estudiantiles
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    USD116 Declaración sobre Paros Estudiantiles Marzo 6, 2018  El tiroteo del 14 de febrero, 2018 en la Escuela Preparatoria Marjory Stoneman Douglas en Parkland, Florida fue una tragedia que ha alcanzado a cada comunidad, incluyendo la nuestra. El Distrito Escolar de Urbana # 116 toma la seguridad escolar muy en serio y nuestro personal lleva a […]

Champaign Unit 4 Schools News