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Letter from the RAIC President

Important updates about the Rockford Area Illini Club

The past few years have been a whirlwind of activity for the Rockford Area Illini Club, some of which has been very visible in our events, but much of which has been taking place behind the scenes.

As many of you know, the RAIC was recognized last October as the Alumni Club of the Year by the University of Illinois Alumni Association for the fifth time. It is because of the engagement of our members that we remain as vibrant and active as we are, which is a key ingredient to being named the Outstanding Alumni Club. The strength of our board, and the vision they help provide, is also key.

I wanted to take a moment to outline some of the key initiatives we have been pursuing since our 50th anniversary celebration to ensure that the club is strongly positioned for the next fifty years.

Probably the most important initiative that was undertaken a couple of years ago was to reorganize the club. In March 2012, the Rockford Area Illini Club was incorporated in the state of Illinois as a non-profit organization recognized by the Illinois Secretary of State. Subsequent to that incorporation, we applied to the IRS for recognition as a 501(c)(3) organization, which we officially received at the end of September, 2013. The last step in our reorganization was to register with the Illinois Attorney General’s office to allow us to raise funds in support of the organization, and specifically the scholarships that we provide. We are proud to announce that we received this registration in July.

The purpose of this activity was to ensure that we are organized properly according to the laws, but just as importantly, to position us to be able to implement plans to begin building a scholarship endowment that will ensure that our scholarships remain viable well into the future. The benefits of building the scholarship endowment internally to our organization are that we will reap the benefits of the interest earned on the endowment (that is not currently the case with our scholarship fund through the UIF), we get to maintain control over the scholarship application process, including the review, selection and award of the scholarships (which would not be the case if we built the endowment with another organization), and will allow us to ensure that our scholarships remain viable in perpetuity. The benefits to you as club members are that some portion of event fees will be tax deductible, as will 100% of scholarship donations made to the club. Additionally, as we are able to fund scholarships from endowment interest once that account is established and grown, the money raised from dues and event income can be used to expand our programming and events in even more ways to offer even more benefits to you, our members.

In support of the new organization, we have made a small change in the structure of our board, adding a formal Finance sub-committee to support the Treasurer of the board. Laura Goodin has done a great job as the Treasurer of the RAIC for many years, and will continue in the role. To support her in the expanded responsibilities that come with being a 501(c)(3) organization, we have formed the Finance sub-committee, which will be led by the Treasurer and made up of the President as well as 1-3 other board members or club members. The initial committee will be made up of Laura as the Treasurer, myself as the President, and board member Lori Lyons, whose Finance and Accounting background will be invaluable as we move forward.

In addition to the board structure, we continue to look at ways to strengthen the make-up of our board. We have a diverse board in terms of age, gender, college major, and tenure on the board, though we are all united in our love for the University of Illinois. We work hard to maintain and improve upon that diversity as board positions become vacant. If you are, or know someone who is, interested in helping the board or serving on a committee, please feel free to contact me or any of our board members. The more we engage our members, the healthier the club will continue to be.

Finally, and perhaps the most important initiative that we can undertake as a board and as a club in general, is to continue to find ways to engage our new graduates and younger alumni to ensure that the club remains vibrant and viable long into the future. We are investigating ways to do this, with the help of our newest board member, 2014 graduate Zach Buchanan, as well as a couple other new grads. If you have ideas or suggestions for how to engage our younger members, please share them with us. If you would like to be involved with this, or any of the other initiatives mentioned, please let us know. As I said above, it is through the engagement and support of our members that we have been, and will continue to be, one of the premiere alumni clubs for the University of Illinois.

Go Illini!

Jim Waddell
President, Rockford Area Illini Club