Every day, five children die in the U.S. due to abuse at the hands of their caregivers. In Illinois alone, there are currently 16,000 children in foster care -- and far too few foster parents to care for them.
To improve the lives of children in foster care, Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM), one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the country, selected Children’s Home & Aid as its primary beneficiary for the 46th annual Dance Marathon, which will take place March 6 to 8 on the Evanston campus.
One of the leading child and family service agencies in Illinois, Children’s Home & Aid’s highly trained staff each year provide expression therapy, counseling and mentoring programs for more than 1,500 children in foster care. The staff also supports children by connecting them to the proper family placement, as well as restoring their hope and emotional stability. Ultimately, however, Children’s Home & Aid’s mission is to increase the rate of successful home placements for youth in foster care across Illinois, and the United States at large, in order to decrease the number of homeless youth.
NUDM 2020 will specifically partner with the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family Center, Children’s Home & Aid’s therapeutic residential treatment center located in Evanston.
“NUDM is so much more than the fundraising and 30 hours spent dancing,” said Eliana Scobey, one of the NUDM 2020 executive co-chairs. “Spending the year working with such an amazing organization has brought the entire Northwestern community together. Family, belonging and support systems are so important to many of us, which has made it very rewarding to mentor youth and work towards helping every child finding a loving home where they can experience all of the above.”
Through its work with Children’s Home & Aid, NUDM hopes to impact youth in foster care by expanding the resources at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family Center to improve the foster care experience for Evanston youth.
“At the Rice Center, we work to help kids become more trusting and feel like they can be in a relationship with an adult that’s safe, so they can leave the program and be successful in a home setting,” said Sarah Vitzthum, the Children’s Home & Aid placement and transition supervisor. “One of the benefits of working with the NUDM students is that they also promote these positive relationships. The kids are learning that even people who don’t have to be with them, like the NUDM volunteers, are adults they can trust and who will not hurt them. This can be a powerful way to challenge a kid’s belief that relationships are hurtful.”
“We are so lucky to have the opportunity to work closely with Children’s Home & Aid, specifically the Rice Center, which is located right here in Evanston,” said Rachel Cantor, one of the NUDM 2020 executive co-chairs. “The Northwestern community has really resonated with this beneficiary because so many of us were fortunate to have a strong support system growing up that helped us get to where we are today.”
The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) is NUDM’s secondary beneficiary for the 23rd consecutive year. 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 2020 begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6, and concludes at 1 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. It will take place at Norris University Center (1999 Campus Drive), on the University’s Evanston campus. Media wishing to cover the event on-site should contact NUDM marketing and media co-chairs Sam Schmaier at 914-584-7009 and Jessie Paridis at 917-678-7817.
A livestream of the event can be viewed online at www.nudm.org.
Donations for this year’s event can be made online at www.give.nudm.org
Public NUDM 2020 fundraising activities include:
● 10 a.m., Saturday, March 7 -- The NUDM 5K/10K Race, around the university’s beautiful “lakefill” and Sheridan Rd. The registration fee is $20 for students and $35 for non-students, though runners are encouraged to fundraise more for NUDM and its 2020 beneficiaries. Participants may register at www.go.nudm.org/5k10k
● 2 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 7 -- The Kids Fair at the Norris University Center features fun, family-oriented activities with Northwestern students and children from the Rice Center. Individuals can either pay $5 or donate items to enter the event.