DeKalb Prepares for Next Round in America’s Best Communities Grant


The DeKalb community is a quarter-finalist in Frontier Communication’s “America’s Best Communities” competition!  We are 1 of only 3 communities in Illinois and 1 of 50 nationwide to become quarter-finalists. Winner of the top prize receives $3,000,000 to implement a long-term vision for community quality of life and economic vitality. With awards of $2,000,000 and $1,000,000 going to the second and third place winners, this is an exciting opportunity for our community!

As a quarter-finalist, we’ve already received $35,000 from Frontier, and we anticipate shortly to receive another $15,000 from our mentor organization, ESPN. This money will help us identify transformative projects and programs to support our long-term community vision.

Importantly, right now and over the next several weeks, the City of DeKalb is gathering strategic planning input on what residents want to see for our City’s future. Through a series of neighborhood conversations (organized with the help of NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies), residents have been and will continue to meet in small groups to talk about what in our community they are most proud of and about what changes they think would make it an ideal place to live and work in the future.

Dates for the remaining scheduled neighborhood conversations can be found on the City’s website or at You can help with the vision for our City’s future and in the effort to win the Frontier grant competition, by joining one of the City’s remaining neighborhood conversations. We hope you will.

After the neighborhood conversations conclude, NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies will compile resident input and present results to the City Council for continued work on the long-term vision and strategic planning.  ReNew DeKalb, the nonprofit lead for our Frontier grant application, will also receive a copy of the report. Volunteers working with ReNew will organize additional input sessions for residents and hold conversations with local agencies, businesses and the City to identify specific projects and programs with potential for implementation as part of the long-term vision.

DeKalb faces significant challenges, as all communities do, but we have opportunities and resources that many others do not.

We didn’t make it to the quarter-finalist round of the America’s Best Communities competition simply by chance. We’ve been working on sustainable economic vitality for years. We have a national research institution in NIU, a first-rate community college in Kishwaukee College and a Top Ten High School as identified by US News & World Report. We have a legacy-quality library expansion in progress, outstanding health care facilities and a philanthropic infrastructure supporting a range of high quality social services. We have national and international businesses, retail shopping opportunities, a strategic location near major interstate highways and an excellent regional airport to support further business recruitment.

Our semi-final application will be submitted to Frontier on November 6, 2015. We can do great things with $3,000,000, if we can get there.  We are Proudly DeKalb – please join us in being “All In” as we continue on this journey.  Thank you.