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. Over the years, more than 184 community members have served on our Board of Directors.

Anna Merritt

“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


Added 2 new scholarships bringing the
total number of student scholarships to 13.

The 365 club has grown to 170 members generating over a quarter of a million dollars supporting CUSF programs and scholarships.

Total assets exeeded 2 million.


CUSF received over $100,000 in donations from community members to renovate the Urbana High School Band Room.

CUSF awarded an all-time record of over $300,000 in grants and scholarships to Unit 4 & District 116 teachers and students.