Excellent Emerging Organization Award

2014 Excellent Emerging Organization Award winner announced at annual Symposium


Each year, the Axelson Center presents awards recognizing the achievements of Chicago-area nonprofits. In its fifth year, the Excellent Emerging Organization Award recognized one young organization with potential for growth and greater effectiveness.

The award winner was recognized at the annual Symposium on June 3, 2014, and awarded a $2,500 cash award and a capacity building package valued at over $25,000.  A committee of nonprofit and community leaders determined the recipients.  We congratulate the 2014 winner:

Waukegan to College
Waukegan, IL

Waukegan to College: 2014 Excellent Emerging Organization Award Winner from North Park University on Vimeo.

Waukegan to College (W2C), has had a profound impact on the young people and families of Wakuegan, Illinois. Since 2009, W2C has nearly tripled its capacity from 25 students at its founding to 70 students served in 2014, and 100% of the high school seniors participating in W2C programming have matriculated to college. Their success is fueled by close monitoring of programming outcomes; a diverse funding base; and sustained partnerships with corporations, high schools, and universities.

Portrait of an Excellent Emerging Organization

In reviewing the nonprofit organizations that were nominated for this year's award, the selection committee considered young organizations whose potential for growth and impact is high. The winning organization demonstrates that it is capable of leadership within its subsector, as well as innovation in its programs and service delivery. While young and small, the organization practices financial stability, sound management, and visions and plans for its future success.


In order to be considered for the award, an applicant must be a 501(c)3 organization and its primary mission focus must benefit Chicago and/or its surrounding communities. Staff, board members, and volunteers may nominate their own organizations. Applicant must also meet the following requirements:

  • Organization has been in existence for 10 years or less
  • Organization budget must not exceed $750,000
  • Organization must have 10 or less full-time staff members

Award Benefits

The winning organization will be announced at the Axelson Symposium luncheon on June 3, 2014. The award aims to strengthen the capacity of the winning organization to improve services and efficiency.  The selected nonprofit will receive a capacity-building package valued at over $25,000 and a $2,500 unrestricted cash award donated by Curtis Jones and Paula Banks-Jones.The 2014 EEO award was sponsored by MB Financial Bank. After an initial in-depth organizational assessment conducted by Executive Service Corps of Chicago, a capacity building package will be developed to best meet the winning organization's needs.

Archives: 2014 Call for Nominations

(Below are the instructions for the 2014 application process, for reference and planning purposes.)

Contact the Axelson Center by email or by phone at (773) 244-5747 to nominate an organization for this award. Organizations do not need to be nominated in order to apply, but members of the community are welcome to nominate organizations that they know. If you do nominate an organization, please include a contact person, their email and phone number so that we may contact them to complete the application.

Archives: Application and Review Process

If you meet the eligibility requirements, we invite you to apply for this award.  Download the application and instructions.

(Note: You can download this PDF, fill it in electronically, and save it to your computer using Adobe Reader)

  1. Complete and mail/email the initial application (electronic files are preferred, postmarked no later than January 10, 2014). Include a copy of your 501(c)3 letter, your most recent Form 990, a listing of current board members, their vocation, and the number of years they have served on your board, strategic plan, and original signature page.
  2. The initial applications will be reviewed and 3-5 organizations will be chosen to complete an interview with the review committee. The qualifying organizations will be notified no later than February 10, 2014.
  3. These organizations will schedule interviews with the committee in late March.
  4. All qualifying organizations will receive special recognition at the Symposium on June 3, 2014.

Axelson small logo at North Park University