Annual Report - 2011 


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2011 Annual Report (PDF, 2.27 MB)
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2011 Annual Report

Working Together to Strengthen Illinois Communities

Table of Contents

Letter from the Chair and Acting Executive Director

Jill HeiseScott McFarland

Dear Friends,

Volunteerism gives life meaning, and we are proud to say that Illinois has a significant number of people who are working each day to improve the lives of our neighbors, friends, families and strangers. The numbers speak for themselves. In the last year, nearly 2.8 million Illinoisans of all ages gave back by contributing their time, talent and financial support to schools, churches, non-profits, businesses, little leagues, scout troops, veteran groups and countless other organizations. We volunteered an impressive 378.5 million hours, or about 34.8 hours per person. This service equates to over $8.4 billion in economic impact for the state of Illinois.

We strongly believe individuals can drastically improve their communities by sharing their talents and collaborating toward a common goal. In this year’s report, we highlight aspects of volunteerism that have addressed and met Illinois’ most pressing issues. Please continue reading our report to learn more about our AmeriCorps*State programs, our training initiatives, ways we support and recognize our exceptional volunteers, and our Volunteer Management Network. We support diverse programs financially as well as through presenting educational events in regions across the state. The Commission has recently taken steps toward inclusion within AmeriCorps through the Disability Outreach project. We have enhanced our marketing efforts through our dynamic website, social media outreach (Like us on Facebook and Twitter) and our quarterly newsletter.

We hope you enjoy reading the Serve Illinois Commission’s 2011 Annual Report. We have accomplished great success in Illinois this year and will continue efforts to support the work and enthusiasm of our volunteers. Please help us build on our strong foundation for success by sharing your passion for volunteerism with others. Together, our impact will significantly contribute to supporting vibrant communities throughout our state. Thank you for your support.

Yours in Service,
Heise Signature
Jill Heise
Commission Chair

Yours in Service,
McFarland Signature
Scott McFarland
Acting Executive Director

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Commission and Staff

Serve Illinois Commission Members

Giraldo Rosales and Howard LathanThe Commission is appointed by the governor and consists of 25 bipartisan voting members and 10 bipartisan nonvoting members. Commission members are diverse in areas of expertise, race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, and geographic location. At least 25% of the members must be from the City of Chicago and no more than 50% of the commission may be from the same political party. Voting members serve 1 to 3 year terms, and nonvoting members serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Members are:

  • Jill C. Heise, Chair
  • Andrew Barbeau, Vice Chair
  • Jane Angelis
  • Donald Baden
  • Lawrence Benito
  • Julian Brown
  • Jocelyn Cheng
  • Bechara Choucair
  • Evelyn Diaz
  • James Dixon
  • Merri Dee
  • Kathy Engelken
  • Alvin Goldfarb
  • John Hosteny
  • Nancy Jameson
  • Christopher Koch
  • Howard Lathan
  • Michael Mangan
  • Bob McCammon
  • Garry McCarthy
  • Arlan McClain
  • Frederick D. Nettles, Jr.
  • Toni Preckwinkle
  • Genita C. Robinson
  • Fred Rodriguez
  • Giraldo Rosales
  • Cynthia Sims
  • John Sirek
  • Barbara Tubekis
  • Albert Tyson, III
  • Gloria Verastegui

Serve Illinois Commission Staff

  • Scott McFarland, Acting Executive Director
  • Lisa Fernandes, AmeriCorps Program Officer
  • Karla Kunzeman, Volunteer Programs Manager
  • Emily Fox, Graduate Intern

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Mission, Vision, & Purpose

VolunteersThe Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service Act (PA91-798, 20 ILCS 710) enabled the creation of a Commission to promote community service and volunteer participation as a way to foster community and state problem-solving; to encourage and support voluntary citizen involvement in government and private programs throughout Illinois; to establish a long-term, thorough vision and plan of action for national volunteerism and community service efforts in the state; and to serve as the liaison between Illinois and national or state organizations that support its mission.


The mission of the Serve Illinois Commission is to improve Illinois communities by supporting and enhancing traditional volunteerism and community service and the administration of the AmeriCorps program.


The Serve Illinois Commission envisions an Illinois where all citizens recognize their ability and responsibility to help strengthen their communities through voluntary service. The Commission strives to create expanded and meaningful volunteerism throughout rural, suburban, and urban Illinois involving people of all backgrounds, cultures, and ages. The Commission envisions volunteers making measurable differences in their communities because they are well trained, supported, and on the cutting edge of problem solving.


The purpose of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service is to promote and support community service in public and private programs to meet the needs of Illinois citizens; to stimulate new volunteerism and community service initiatives and partnerships; and to serve as a resource and advocate within the Department of Human Services for community service agencies, volunteers, and programs which utilize State and private volunteers.” — 20 ILCS 710, Chapter 1278, paragraphs 3800 to 3806

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Duties & History


>Young volunteerThe Commission meets quarterly with the Commission staff to discuss all issues relating to community service in the state. Working in cooperation with State agencies, individuals, local groups, and various other Illinois organizations, the duties of the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service are as follows:

  • Prepare a 3-year state service plan in an open, public process, and update it annually
  • Fund and administer AmeriCorps*State programs
  • Promote National Days of Service (i.e. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, AmeriCorps Week, 9/11 Day of Service)
  • Coordinate training, projects, and other activities related to service
  • Recognize outstanding community service accomplishments
  • Support, expand and improve Illinois community service initiatives
  • Prepare financial assistance applications


In 1979, the Commission was founded as the Illinois Office of Voluntary Participation. The office switched names and was housed in several different offices before finding its place in the Department of Human Services in 1998. After the implementation of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service Act in 2000, the commission was aptly named the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. The office began using the “Serve Illinois” moniker in 2007. The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service is currently housed within the Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Community Services, at 815 East Monroe Street in Springfield, Illinois.

Illinois benefits when citizens, organizations, and businesses work together and strengthen their communities through volunteering and community service.

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Volunteering in Illinois


AmeriCorps Member Over 2.8 million Illinois citizens are currently volunteering with national and local nonprofits, schools, religious organizations, and other groups in Illinois.

  • 2,600 individuals are AmeriCorps members
  • 17,000 citizens are Senior Corps members
  • 64,000 students are involved with Learn and Serve

Facts and Statistics

  • In Illinois, 27.6% of citizens volunteer.
  • Illinois’ “volunteer rate” ranks 29th among states. Although Illinois’ volunteer rate generally lags behind most other states in the Midwest, the state exceeds the national average each year.
  • Last year, the Corporation for National and Community Service gave more than $30,000,000 to support the national service initiatives in Illinois.
  • The top volunteer locations in Illinois are religious organizations (35.1%) and educational organizations (26.2%.)
  • In the past year, Illinois citizens volunteered 378.5 million hours; which equals over $8.4 billion in impact.
  • A volunteer hour in Illinois is valued at $22.34.

Volunteering in America
Corporation for National and Community Service
Independent Sector: The Value of Volunteer Time

National Service Programs

AmeriCorps Member The Serve Illinois Commission administers AmeriCorps*State programs and partners with other National Service programs that are overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service.


AmeriCorps Logo

VISTA—Volunteers in Service to America– Members focus on capacity building and seek to end illiteracy, improve health services, increase housing opportunities, or eliminate poverty through their services. Individuals perform little or no direct service.

National Civilian Community Corps– NCCC is a residential service program that deploys teams of members to locations across the nation to instigate service projects with an emphasis on protecting the environment, promoting public safety, and responding to natural disasters.

National Direct Programs—Members perform direct service for organizations that operate in multiple states.

AmeriCorps*State Programs—Members perform direct service for organizations operating only in Illinois.

Senior Corps Programs

Senior Corps Logo

RSVP—Retired & Senior Volunteer Program– This program utilizes the talents and time of individuals age 55 and over to serve communities in a variety of capacities.

FGP—Foster Grandparents Program– Participants in this program work directly with low income children.

SCP—Senior Companions Program– Individuals work with other seniors to help them maintain their independence.

Learn and Serve America

Senior Corps Logo

Service Learning is a method of teaching and learning that connects classroom instruction with meaningful service to the community. Learn and Serve integrates community service into K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.

Daniel Ready “My passion for social justice and educational equality has and always will drive my actions. City Year provides me with the unique opportunity to fight the drop-out crisis in America while working in a setting that values diversity, accountability, and idealism. Getting to interact with under-served populations drives me to make service an important aspect of my life.”
— Daniel Ready, AmeriCorps Member with City Year Chicago


Over 1,000 AmeriCorps*State members perform direct service for communities in Illinois. Through their service, AmeriCorps*State members strengthen communities and build relationships with the organizations and people they serve. Their service includes, but is not limited to, tutoring and mentoring, family literacy, community outreach, restoring parks, recruiting volunteers, safety education, and prenatal care.

AmeriCorps members commit to full or part-time service over a 9-12 month period. During their service, members may receive health coverage, training, and suspension of student loans. About half of all members also receive a modest living allowance. After successful completion of their service term, members receive an education award that can be applied toward existing student loans or used to pay the current cost of attending a higher education program. In the 2010-2011 program year, AmeriCorps*State members in Illinois received over $3 million in education awards.

Members join together in October of each year for National Service Recognition Day. More information about Recognition Day can be found on page 17.

Alexis LedesmaI enjoy being part of an organization whose goals are to improve the lives of others. I got involved with West Suburban PADS to be part of the housing solution by working directly with those who are facing the hardest times securing stable housing. The lack of affordable housing has always been an issue close to my heart, and it is always memorable when someone graduates from our program and can successfully pay their own rent.”
— Alexis Ledesma, AmeriCorps Member with West Suburban PADS

AmeriCorps*State Grant Funding

AmeriCorps*State grant funding is distributed by the Serve Illinois Commission. These funds are given to local non-profit groups in the form of population-based formula grants, and the remaining funds are awarded via a competitive grants process overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

In program year 2011-2012, the Serve Illinois Commission awarded nearly $4.4 million to formula grant programs and $4 million to competitive grant programs. A list of grantees can be viewed below.

Young volunteerIllinois’ AmeriCorps Grantees (and Headquarters)

  • Academy for Urban School Leadership (Chicago)
  • Alternatives, Inc. (Chicago)
  • American Red Cross (Chicago)
  • Asian Human Services of Chicago, Inc. (Chicago)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley (Davenport, IA)
  • Children’s Home Association of Illinois (Peoria)
  • City Year, Inc.(Chicago)
  • Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (CAAAELII) (Chicago)
  • Fulfilling Our Responsibility Unto Mankind (F.O.R.U.M.) (Chicago)
  • Greater Chicago Food Depository (Chicago)
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Chicago)
  • Illinois Public Health Association (Springfield)
  • Jobs for Youth (Chicago)
  • Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House (East St. Louis)
  • Literacy Volunteers of America- Illinois (Chicago)
  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association (Chicago)
  • Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (Marion)
  • McHenry County Mental Health Board (McHenry)
  • Northwestern University Settlement (Chicago)
  • PCC Community Wellness Center (Oak Park)
  • Public Allies, Inc. (Chicago)
  • Rend Lake College (Ina)
  • Sauk Valley Community College (Dixon)
  • Schuler Family Foundation (Lake Forest)
  • Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville)
  • Springfield Urban League (Springfield)
  • University of Illinois (Chicago)
  • Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (Urbana)
  • Volunteers of America (Chicago)
  • West Suburban PADS (Oak Park)
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb)

Map of AmeriCorps*State Programs

Each program determines where its Members can best carry out their service to their target communities.  Some programs operate at a sing site or in a single city/county.  Other programs operate with several partner sites in multiple counties.  The maps on the following page show host sites for all AmeriCorps*State programs.  Cook county sites have been broken out for easier viewing.  Counties that receive support from AmeriCorps*State Members are colored in beige. Host sites and their number of locations are listed in the keys on each map.

Cook County Map
State Map

Volunteer Management Network

AmeriCorps Member The Illinois Volunteer Management Network (VMN) seeks to cultivate an extensive resource network of voluntary agencies and associations, small and large, across Illinois. The purpose of the network is to help address the primary concerns of these agencies' hardworking volunteer managers and administrators, including recruitment and retention of volunteers, local organizational capacity-building efforts, and ongoing training and professional development opportunities for volunteer managers.

The state of Illinois is divided into five networks: East Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southern, and the West Central. Each region holds an annual conference that includes sessions and workshops targeted toward individuals who currently work with or are interested in working with volunteers.

2011 Conferences:

ECIVC Logo East Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference
June 16, 2011 - Champaign, IL
106 Participants

ICOVA Logo Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration
August 12, 2011 - Chicago, IL
185 Participants

SIVCLogo Southern Illinois Volunteerism Conference
September 10, 2011 - Mt. Vernon, IL
130 Participants

NWIVC Northwestern Illinois Volunteerism Conference
October 7, 2011 - Dixon, IL
42 Participants

WCIVC West Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference
October 27, 2011 - Macomb, IL
90 Participants

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Disability Inclusion Program

Letter writingThe Illinois Disability Inclusion Program’s goal is to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities as members of all National Service Programs. To achieve this goal, Serve Illinois promotes service opportunities available to persons with disabilities and agencies that provide services to them.

The Commission offers inclusion team support, education and training, assessment and funding for accommodations, service day activities inclusion planning, and outreach initiatives to address inclusion.

The Illinois Disability Inclusion Team (IDIT)

AmeriCorps MembersAfter the successful implementation of the Northwest Illinois Disability Inclusion Team as a pilot program in April 2010, the Serve Illinois Commission began forming the Statewide Inclusion Team in May 2011. The Illinois Disability Inclusion Team will develop policies pertaining to the Corporation for National and Community Service program members with disabilities, specifically the inclusion, recruitment, disclosure, and accommodation policies regarding members with disabilities. The team’s objective is to increase the number of persons with disabilities who participate in the CNCS programs. The team will look at ways to develop a continuum of service for people with disabilities throughout their life span, promoting an ethic of civic engagement.

To best assess the needs and accommodations of AmeriCorps members, the Serve Illinois Commission issues an annual anonymous survey. The 2011 survey was completed by 430 members, and of those members, 59% indicated some form of disability. The most prominent disabilities reported were asthma or another respiratory illness (14%) and mood disorders (9%). Of those who indicated a disability, 17% stated no accommodation was needed, and 4% disclosed an accommodation was needed and provided. There was no indication any accommodation request was denied.

It is the intent of the Inclusion Team to use this information to reach out to the disability community at large to promote national service as a viable option to learning job skills and to assist in preparing national service programs to be better equipped to pertinent needs of people with disabilities.

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Outreach and Marketing

AmeriCorps was established in fall 2008 and is used by community-based organizations and individuals seeking to connect volunteer needs with volunteer resources. Organizations can post opportunities, and prospective volunteers can search for opportunities by zip code, county, state or category of service. There are currently more than 140,000 volunteer opportunities listed. The Serve Illinois Commission partners with Network for Good to coordinate statewide volunteer opportunities from multiple databases into one search that is available on the website.

Site Visit Chart showing increases from 2008 to 2011Nearly 40,000 individuals have utilized the Volunteer Opportunity Portal on to search for volunteer opportunities. The most popular searches are for opportunities that involve volunteering with animals and the environment (4,064 searches,) children and youth (3,948 searches,) and human services (3,521 searches). These searches have led to visitors clicking on opportunities over 101,000 times.

Since it was launched on September 1, 2008, has received over 112,000 visits (as of December 31, 2011). There is an average of 94 visits per day, and as the above chart shows, website traffic continues to increase annually.

Serve Illinois Newsletter

Serve Illinois NewsletterThe Serve Illinois newsletter is issued three times per year—spring, summer and fall—and includes information about upcoming events and recent happenings. The newsletter is comprised of sections devoted to National Service, Volunteerism in Illinois, Happenings, and Training & Professional Development. The newsletter also features full-page spread devoted to an AmeriCorps*State program. Volunteer programs throughout the state may submit articles about their programs or specific volunteers who have achieved noteworthy accomplishments.

Marketing Efforts

Young VolunteerEach year, the Serve Illinois Commission purchases promotional materials with the Serve Illinois logo, web address, and toll free number prominently displayed on each object. The materials are given away at trainings, conferences and to AmeriCorps members and program directors in hopes of increasing exposure to the website and volunteering opportunities in Illinois.

At conferences and job/volunteer fairs, the Commission sets up a display complete with photos, a sample Volunteer Recognition Certificate (read more about these certificates on the following page), fact sheets and literature pertaining to the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps and volunteer management. The Commission also issues press releases pertaining to upcoming events and Days of Service. The press is invited to attend these events and encouraged to take photos or video for media coverage.

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Volunteer Recognition

State SealThe proper recognition of volunteers is an important component in any volunteer program, large or small. With ongoing issues relating to volunteer retention nationwide and in all types of organizations, the Serve Illinois Commission encourages some form of appropriate volunteer recognition. Although recognition is given on a national level and through private/service organizations, the Commission recognizes volunteers in the following ways:

The Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards

This year marked the second year of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards in Illinois. These awards recognize individual volunteers through a statewide award program to highlight the importance of volunteerism and community service in the State of Illinois.

Awards are presented annually in April at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. Each year, Commissioners read the nominations and jointly decide on a winner in each award category. Awards are presented to one Youth (18 and under), one Adult (19-54 years old), one Retiree/Senior (55+ years old) and one AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve member in each of the Commission's five service regions across the state (Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central and Southern Illinois). Nominees for each award category serve in one of the following focus areas: Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Conservation, Disaster Preparedness/Response, Health, and Veterans Affairs.

In 2011, the Commission received 150 nominations from across the state. To see a list and short biography of current and past recipients of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, visit the website.

Volunteer Recognition Certificates

These certificates, printed in full color on ivory parchment paper, are provided free of charge to volunteer programs in Illinois. Each certificate includes a name blank to be completed by the program, and the signatures of the Governor of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary, and the Chair of the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. The certificates are available year-round by contacting the Commission and are a great way to recognize volunteers for their service. Over 2,500 certificates were distributed to volunteers in 2011.

National Service Recognition Day

In 2011, nearly 1,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members from across the state gathered at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield for National Service Recognition Day. The event celebrated members’ achievements and motivated them for their upcoming year of service.

Upon arrival, members were given medals for their service and offered the opportunity to participate in a Blood Drive hosted by the American Red Cross. That day, AmeriCorps members donated enough blood to help 60 people in Illinois.

AmeriCorps MemberThe event began at 11 a.m. with a welcome from Ted Gibbs, Executive Director of the Serve Illinois Commission. Springfield’s mayor, Mike Houston, then commended members for their service to the state. Next, Jill Heise, Chair of the Serve Illinois Commission, gave a short speech on the importance of volunteering and Serve Illinois Commissioner Julian Brown spoke about how the Corporation for National and Community Service and volunteers can work together to maximize their impact. The keynote speaker for the day was Erica Severson-Denniston, a former AmeriCorps member at Project YES! in Chicago and experienced trainer/facilitator with 12 years of experience successfully managing individuals, teams, and large-scale projects. She spoke to AmeriCorps members about how to maximize their service year by taking on leadership and skill building activities, and drawing upon their unique strengths. Severson-Denniston also led an additional afternoon session and discussed ways members could effectively manage their time between service and their personal or professional lives.

The day concluded with the annual march to the Illinois Capitol. Members carried banners for their programs during the parade and were sworn into a year of service upon reaching the Capitol. Andrew Barbeau, Serve Illinois Commission Vice-Chair, led the members in an oath proclaiming their commitment to a year of service in Illinois. As they stood at the base of the President Abraham Lincoln statue in front of the Capitol, members dedicated themselves to strengthening communities and “getting things done” for Illinois.

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AmeriCorps MemberTo best prepare volunteer managers and Commissioners for the challenges they may face in the realm of volunteerism, the Serve Illinois Commission hosts multiple training sessions each year.

Program Director Training

Each year, Serve Illinois staff hosts two to three mandatory training sessions for new and tenured AmeriCorps*State program directors. Each training lasts 2 days. In 2011, the trainings occurred in April, August and September. Through the training, program directors discussed challenges they have encountered within their organization and proposed solutions. They also shared ideas for strengthening performance measures, data collection systems, and data analysis. Attendees learned about fiscal and grants management, how to manage members, the basics of National Service, and received Commission updates.

Commissioner Training

Commissioner training sessions are held annually and are organized by the Commission staff. The 2011 training session was on February 18. Through the training, Commissioners learn duties and expectations and are educated on the best practices in Commission structure and organization. Additionally, they elected new Chair and Vice Chair members, received reports from the National Association for State Service Commissions, and reviewed information from other states in order to plan for service in Illinois.

Cross Streams Training

Serve Illinois offers and sponsors program development and training sessions for AmeriCorps*State programs and other National Service programs such as Senior Corps and Learn and Serve.  Each year in October, Serve Illinois invites National Service programs to meet in Springfield for National Service Recognition Day (see page 17 for more information.) Additionally, Serve Illinois sponsors five regional Volunteerism Conferences (East Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference (ECIVC), Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration (ICOVA), Northwestern Illinois Volunteerism Conference (NWIVC), Southern Illinois Volunteerism Conference (SIVC), and West Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference (WCIVC.)  These conferences are open to any volunteer managers, volunteers, National Service Members, and the general public.  Each conference offers a wide array of information dealing with all facets of service.

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Looking Toward the Future

Illinois State Service Plan

AmeriCorps MemberThe 2009-2012 State Service Plan was developed through an open and public process in which all Illinois citizens were encouraged to contribute feedback to the State Plan.

The State Service Plan discusses the following strategies, focus areas and ongoing efforts:

  • A focus on outreach to community and faith-based programs and intermediaries that may be interested in operating an AmeriCorps program: The Commission will collaborate with other state agencies, conduct annual listening sessions throughout the state, and begin targeted recruitment efforts to outline the AmeriCorps program application process
  • A mission to improve Illinois communities by supporting and enhancing volunteerism and community service to create an Illinois where individuals are encouraged to solve community problems through service
  • Increase and facilitate opportunities for AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn & Serve America programs, support the efforts of various organizations (including but not limited to businesses, universities, faith communities and social & service communities) and recruit and engage volunteers from a variety of backgrounds
  • Offer training to help organizations build capacity and recruit/retain highly motivated volunteers
  • Engage and utilize the skills of adults age 55 and older
  • Create sustainability of National Service Efforts by exploring financial, in-kind and other support of the private sector, foundations and other entities and individuals

    To view the complete Illinois State Service Plan, visit the Serve Illinois Commission website and click on “Rules and Planning” beneath the “About Us” tab.

    Serve Illinois Logo
    Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service
    815 East Monroe Street
    Springfield, Illinois 62701

    Tel: 800-592-9896
    TTY: 888-261-2713
    Fax: 217-557-0515


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