Elgin foundation disbanding with $10 million in parting gifts

Updated 7/17/2020 4:12 PM

EFS Foundation in Elgin is disbanding after more than two decades and giving substantial parting gifts to area nonprofits, such as $180,000 to Food for Greater Elgin.

The food pantry is "enormously grateful" for the gift, especially timely because of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, its interim Executive Director Michael Montgomery said.


Foundation board President Randy Brittain said he and other board members are getting older and decided it was time to disband. The foundation sold its real estate and investment assets and is disbursing about $10 million in gifts, Brittain said, declining to name the nonprofits.

"Not everyone has received their check yet. We are meeting with them in the next couple of weeks," he said.

The foundation has disbursed $11 million in grants since it was formed in 1998.

"We will have distributed more than $21 million in the community over the course of time. I think that's a pretty cool thing," said Brittain, who served on the board for about 20 years. He is the former owner of Brittain's Express Car Wash in Elgin and now lives in South Carolina.

The foundation started through the former Elgin Financial Savings Bank, which put stock into the foundation when it went public, Brittain said. The bank merged in 2006 into Mid America Bank, which merged with National City Bank and finally with PNC Bank. The foundation uses the PNC Bank branch at 1695 Larkin Ave. in Elgin as its address.

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The foundation is an independent entity with a board of directors and one paid employee who handles the accounting and grant requests, Brittain said. It made three disbursements per year to nonprofits, mostly using stock dividends, Brittain said.

The foundation got federal nonprofit status in 1999 and had assets amounting to just over $10 million in fair market value in 2018, according to the latest federal tax return forms publicly available at guidestar.org. That year, the foundation said it distributed nearly $515,000 to 75 entities throughout the Northwest suburbs, including nonprofits, schools, Boys and Girls clubs, Rotary clubs, health care and pregnancy clinics, and more. The gifts ranged from $250 for the annual Bluff City Cemetery Walk held by the Elgin History Museum to $14,000 for Centro de Informacion in Elgin.

"The EFS Foundation has really impacted the community since its inception," said Mike Warren, immediate past board president of Food for Greater Elgin. "I don't know that there is a not-for-profit that hasn't seen the generosity of that foundation."

Brittain said the foundation liquidated the majority of its assets at the end of last year and got out of a private equity fund within the past 30 days.

"In hindsight, it was pretty good because the stock market took a pretty brutal beating," he said. All the money is being disbursed to past nonprofit grantees with the exception of costs such as legal and accounting, he said.

"I think this is a win-win for a lot of organizations," he said. "Yes, we won't be around in the future to do this, but my hope is that these organizations, and I believe they will, will use this money to the best benefits that they can."


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