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Recorded in autumn of 1963 and released in February 1964, Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are A-Changin’” was instantly inspirational. Of this now iconic piece, Dylan was quoted by Cameron Crowe in the album Biograph linernotes: “This is definitely a song with a purpose.”

Purpose indeed. It rapidly became an anthem for the 1960s and continues to resonate today. I first became aware of the song while in college in the late 1980s. The lyrical prose of the final verse has always been my favorite part—I mean, Dylan truly is, first and foremost, a poet.

The line, it is drawn, the curse, it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one will later be last
For the times, they are a-changin’.

To me, these lyrics aren’t speaking about one transition in time, from old guard to new, senior generation to junior, experience to youth. To me it speaks to the ever-changing patterns of life. Our lives, our worlds are constantly changing,
evolving, day by day, month by month, year by year.

Since the Foundation’s inception in 1975, the investments of our neighbors throughout the northwest Illinois region have enabled generations of our leadership to provide nearly FOUR MILLION dollars in grants toward a myriad of programs and projects throughout our service area of Stephenson, Jo Daviess, and Carroll counties.

Through the COVID-19 Pandemic years and into last, we have seen needs continue to increase, along with awareness of the Foundation, applications for grants, as well as recognition of our history and place within the ecosystem of northwest Illinois. To support the Foundation’s capacity to meet these growing needs, our Board started the year by expanding our staff from two part-time employees to two full-time professional positions: Chief Executive Officer and Community Relations Director. And most recently, we also announced the launch of the Northwest Illinois Nonprofit Alliance, a membership-based initiative offering complimentary mentoring, professional training, and resources to nonprofits throughout
northwest Illinois.

These evolutionary steps are putting the Foundation on the path for the next verse in our song. And, with the continued support of donors and community partners, like you, the Foundation’s impact throughout our region will only continue to grow, enabling our nonprofits and our neighbors to build a stronger, ever-evolving, vibrant northwest Illinois, because, to paraphrase Dylan, … the times are always changing.

Read more from the Spring 2023 COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS newsletter.