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45th annual Dance Marathon raises more than $1 million for drop-out prevention

Northwestern students raise $1,144,515 for Communities In Schools of Chicago and Evanston Community Foundation

After 30 hours of dancing, more than 1,000 undergraduate students waited for the big reveal: the midnight announcement of total funds raised through their collective philanthropy efforts.

Members of Northwestern University Dance Marathon’s (NUDM) finance committee held aloft a large board showing the grand total of $1,144,515 in cash and in-kind donations to support this year’s primary beneficiary Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago.

CIS of Chicago will receive 90 percent of Dance Marathon’s net proceeds to expand the nonprofit’s reach to even more schools and students with its case management and one-on-one sessions, small group support and school-wide programs.

“Communities In Schools of Chicago has appreciated the entire year leading up to the marathon -- the hard work of the Northwestern students and the opportunities they created for the students we serve to come to the Northwestern campus,” said Marianne Woodward, chief resource officer at CIS of Chicago.

“It has been an amazing experience. And the incredible amount of money they were able to raise to support our work will be put to use keeping kids in school and on track,” Woodward said.

For the 22nd consecutive year, the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) will receive 10 percent of net proceeds for its grant making, leadership development and capacity-building programs that focus on making Evanston thrive as a vibrant, inclusive and just community.

The year-long effort -- which required students to solicit pledges and sponsors, staff a phone bank, go “canning” on street corners, plan an online auction and organize a 5K and 10K run -- concluded this weekend with the high-energy test of endurance and generosity that is Dance Marathon.

NUDM is one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the nation. Its storied traditions -- from the Saturday morning sunrise lap to learning choreography for the official “30-hour dance” to saluting members of the 120-hour club with a presentation of t-shirts -- have won Dance Marathon the loyalty of legions of students and alumni for more than four decades.

During the 30-hour event, periodic visits from community leaders, celebrity video greetings and donated food and treats kept the dancers’ energy up. Highlights included a pep talk from President Morton Schapiro, a Saturday morning sunrise run around the tent and video greetings from Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu, sports commentator Christine Brennan (Medill ’80, ’81) and actors Debra Messing, Stephen Lang, Joe Minoso, Jenna Ushkowitz and Lori Petty.

The 45th annual NUDM began at 7 p.m. Friday, March 8, and concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday, March 10, at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus, celebrating the conclusion of a yearlong student-run philanthropic effort. Since 1975, NUDM has raised more than $20 million for more than 35 different charities.

Dance Marathon 2019 by the numbers:

  • $1,144,514.62: Grand fundraising total
  • 9,193: Number of unique donors
  • 1,000-plus: Number of dancers
  • $911,681.14: Size of check presented to CIS Chicago
  • 5,000: Number of CPS students that will be served by this year’s Dance Marathon
  • $101,297.90: Size of check presented to ECF, Dance Marathon’s second beneficiary for the 22nd consecutive year
  • 503: Hours students spent volunteering in Evanston  

Communities In Schools of Chicago:

CIS of Chicago is a dropout prevention organization that works. CIS of Chicago connects schools with needed programs and services and provides one-on-one and group counseling to Chicago public school students that need it most. This year, they are serving more than 70,000 Chicago Public Schools students in 160 schools. The mission of CIS of Chicago is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

To learn more about Communities In Schools of Chicago, visit

Evanston Community Foundation:

The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) is an independent public charity that works to strengthen Evanston and its surrounding areas. Since its founding in 1986, ECF has awarded numerous grants and endowment funds to deserving individuals, families and organizations with the goal of helping Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive and just community. NUDM has given more than $1.2 million to ECF over its longstanding partnership.

To learn more about ECF, visit

Northwestern University Dance Marathon:

Now in its 45th year, NUDM is one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the nation. Since 1975, NUDM has raised more than $20 million for more than 35 different not-for-profit organizations. Last year, NUDM raised over $1 million dollars for its eighth consecutive year in support of Cradles to Crayons -- an organization that provides children from birth through age 12, living in low- income and homeless situations, with the essential items they need to thrive -- and the Evanston Community Foundation. To learn more about NUDM, visit

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