Heading into Northeastern Illinois University’s annual Golden Gala Alumni Awards Dinner on Sept. 16, the NEIU Foundation had raised about $470,000 in contributions since the beginning of the year. By the time the gala ended with a flurry of pledges big and small, that total exceeded the $500,000 second-year goal of the Goodwin Gift Challenge—with more than three months to spare. Those philanthropic donations will be matched by Daniel L. Goodwin for a total contribution of $1 million.
“Last year we accomplished the annual Goodwin Gift Challenge goal by November, and this year we did it in September,” Interim President Richard Helldobler said. “You can feel the momentum growing as Northeastern’s community of friends and donors emphatically answer Mr. Goodwin’s call to inspire philanthropic support for his alma mater. We thank Mr. Goodwin for his extraordinary leadership and generosity, and we look forward to partnering with him for the final year of the Goodwin Gift Challenge and beyond.”
Goodwin, a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and former Chicago Public Schools science teacher, is the Chairman and CEO of The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, a multibillion-dollar real estate and financial organization headquartered on a 13-acre campus in Oak Brook, Illinois.
In total, Goodwin has pledged up to $2.5 million to Northeastern. He made an initial $1 million grant to the NEIU Foundation in December of 2014. The remainder of the gift comes in the form of the Goodwin Gift Challenge, in which he is encouraging others to contribute to the NEIU Foundation by matching gifts up to a total of $500,000 annually through 2018.
“When we announced the Goodwin Gift Challenge in 2015, my hope was that it would inspire the Northeastern Illinois University community to join me in support of an institution that is a symbol of hope, success and excellence for families in Chicago and beyond,” Goodwin said. “Needless to say, Northeastern has risen to the challenge and met its goal. I am proud and look forward to next year’s fundraising match.”
Among many firsts with Northeastern, Goodwin was a member of the first freshman class to attend Northeastern at the St. Louis Avenue campus, the first president of the Northeastern student government, the first alumnus to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Northeastern and the first chairman of the Northeastern Board of Trustees.
In recognition of Goodwin’s support, Northeastern named a college after an alumnus and donor for the first time in its history. The Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education was dedicated during a ceremony and fundraising kickoff event in January 2016.
Beginning again in 2018, donors will have an opportunity to identify their gifts, no matter the designation or size within the NEIU Foundation, as counting toward the Goodwin Gift Challenge in the annual race to reach $500,000. Goodwin’s total commitment of $2.5 million will be distributed three ways:
- To endow the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education Scholarship Fund to benefit undergraduate and graduate students.
- To endow the Daniel L. Goodwin Dean’s Program Fund to purchase teaching materials and other resources to enhance student learning, support faculty development, establish graduate fellowships and graduate assistantships, and to enhance the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education’s programs.
- To establish the Daniel L. Goodwin Distinguished Lecture Series Fund to provide expendable support to hire well-respected individuals to deliver instruction in conferences, seminars and major lectures.
In total, more than 700 donors opted in to the Goodwin Gift Challenge. The average gift was just under $190, and the largest was $50,000.
“The Goodwin Gift Challenge has a direct, immediate and lasting impact on our diverse student body,” Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education Dean Sandra Beyda-Lorie said. “As dean, I am excited to see this effort enhance the efforts of the College of Education and the University to transform the lives of our students and their families through education.”
Northeastern is regarded as one of the most diverse public universities in the nation and is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.
“When we reached the 2016 goal, I said that Mr. Goodwin has opened the door to a new era of support for Northeastern,” said Liesl Downey, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation. “Now, having reached the 2017 goal with more than three months to spare, we can see the community of Northeastern supporters rushing through that door to support every aspect of this deserving institution.”
Established in 1969, the NEIU Foundation functions as an independent Illinois not-for-profit foundation whose corporate mission is to advance the interests and welfare of the University. Earlier this year, the foundation publicly launched its first fundraising campaign, Transforming Lives. The goal is to raise $10 million by the end of 2018. With the help of the Goodwin Gift Challenge, the campaign already has raised $8.5 million.
The foundation is the official fundraising and private gift-receiving agency for Northeastern. The primary functions of the foundation are to develop private support on behalf of the University, to promote the University’s mission and to receive and administer contributions. In this way, the foundation plays a vital role in ensuring that the University remains highly affordable, while retaining the highest academic standards. Private contributions, when added to state resources, add an extra dimension of support that otherwise would not be possible.