Announcement, News, Stories
May 22, 2019

Bridge Communities and Dream On Education Honored with Nonprofit Management Awards at Axelson Conference

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Brenda Asare, The Alford Group; Maree Bullock, The Alford Group; Pier Rogers, Axelson Center; Kelli Haywood, Dream On Education

The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management announced the winners of its Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and its Excellent Emerging Organization Award as part of the Center’s 20th anniversary conference for nonprofit professionals and volunteers on May 2, 2019.

The 2019 Alford-Axelson Award, given for exemplary nonprofit management practices, was presented to Bridge Communities with an honorable mention awarded to Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. The 2019 Excellent Emerging Organization Award, presented to an up-and-coming Chicago area nonprofit, was presented to Dream On Education with an honorable mention awarded to Shift: Englewood Youth Orchestra.

The Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence recognizes nonprofits serving the seven county Chicago region who exemplify outstanding nonprofit management practices. This year’s award winner, Bridge Communities, helps homeless families in DuPage County transition to self-sufficiency by working with partners to provide mentoring, housing, and supportive services. The award review committee believes Bridge’s ongoing success can be attributed to a clear understanding of the connection between strong organizational infrastructure, strategy, and quality programs. For over 30 years, the organization has operated with a balanced budget. Bridge’s sound financial performance and diversified funding model enable the organization to secure sustainability into the future.

The winners of this year’s Alford-Axelson Award received a $10,000 cash prize and commemorative award symbolizing the organization’s dedication to nonprofit managerial excellence. This award honors and continues the legacies of Nils G. Axelson, a devoted community health care leader and visionary, and Jimmie R. Alford, a leading contemporary thinker and practitioner in the nonprofit arena.

Dream On Education, the 2019 Excellent Emerging Organization Award winner, prepares high-performing, low-income 6th–8th grade students for the rigor of a high school and college curriculum.

Dream On’s unique curriculum focuses on scholastic development, mentoring, career exposure, and cultural exposure to keep high-achieving, low-income 6th–8th graders—an underserved and often forgotten demographic—from falling through the cracks.

The award committee attributes Dream On’s success to strong leadership, a rigorous theory of change with clear outcomes and accountability, resourceful collaborations, and a determined mission combined with creativity and innovation.

Dream On Education received a $5,000 cash prize, a commemorative award and a capacity-building package that will support improvement of services and efficiency.

Learn more about both the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Excellent Emerging Organization Award, and review lists of past award winners at the Axelson Center website.

The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University is the source for informative and engaging nonprofit professional development in the Chicago region. Through regular workshops, webinars, and an annual two-day conference, the Axelson Center delivers a superior educational experience for nonprofit managers, leaders, and frontline staff, covering a vast array of topics including program evaluation, strategic planning, communications, and financial management. The valuable information presented through these programs enhances the impact of both the nonprofit sector and its professional staff. Visit for more information.

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