What We Do

At the Justin Wynn Fund we recognize the leadership and contributions of the youth and adults in our community through our Awards; and through our Leadership Academy we work with our youth to fulfill our mission of leadership through community service.

AWARDS

The Justin Wynn Fund presents four major awards every year.  These awards honor exemplary youth and adults from across Evanston.

 

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The Justin Wynn Award is presented annually to two fourth graders from each of District 65’s 12 elementary schools. Recipients are selected by their teachers and other school staff for exhibiting strong leadership, citizenship, and sportsmanship - characteristics that were central to Justin Wynn during his life. Awards are presented at an annual brunch in May which is attended by approximately 300 people from across Evanston including Evanston’s mayor, school officials, and other community members.

Each of the award recipients, or “Wynners”, are invited to participate in the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy until their graduation from high school. Starting with the first class of award recipients in 1988, more than 500 students have received the Justin Wynn Award and all have played a role in celebrating Justin’s legacy.

The Michael Wynn Award honors Justin’s father and is given to a high school senior Wynner who has been an exemplary member of the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy.  This person displays qualities of dedication, inspiration, and compassion, traits that characterized Michael Wynn. The honoree is selected by the other high school Wynners and is presented with the award at the annual Awards Brunch in the spring. In addition, the Justin Wynn Fund makes a donation to a charity of the recipient’s choosing.

The Marcia Wynn Award honors Justin’s mother and is presented to a Wynner parent in recognition of his or her extraordinary service to the Justin Wynn Fund community.  This person believes strongly in the mission of the Justin Wynn Fund and possesses dedication, spirit, and compassion, traits that characterized Marcia Wynn.  The winner is selected by the Justin Wynn Fund Board of Directors and is presented with the award at the annual Parent/Board dinner in September.

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The Buddy Portugal Award honors an adult in the community who has made an outstanding contribution to Evanston’s youth. The recipient is selected by the Justin Wynn Fund Board of Directors from a list of nominees put forth by the Justin Wynn Fund community.  The award is presented at the annual gala, The Red Tie Soirée. Prior to 2011, this honor was named the Adult Leadership Award. The award was renamed after Buddy Portugal who was instrumental in the formation of the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy.

JUSTIN WYNN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

Area youth serving the community

Video created by Jenna and Chuck Kent, 2017

The Justin Wynn Leadership Academy (JWLA) is a collaborative leadership and community improvement program that partners with many organizations around Evanston and the surrounding communities. Year after year, the JWLA brings together Evanston’s young people who have the potential to be tomorrow’s leaders. Through a carefully crafted process of leadership development and participation in community service, their potential is transformed and mobilized to inspire the world.

Membership is comprised of 5th - 12th graders who have received the Justin Wynn Award.  These youth, or "Wynners", attend monthly meetings in which they plan community service opportunities, engage in leadership training and team building exercises, and engage with community leaders.  The JWLA also provides several community service opportunities every month in which the Wynners can participate, including work with local food pantries, soup kitchens, assisted living facilities, and animal shelters.  Members of the JWLA are also invited to attend a weekend long leadership camp in August.

The JWLA Leadership Camp

Our annual August leadership camp is a critical component of the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy.  Wynners from grades 5 through 12 travel together to the YMCA Camp Duncan in Ingleside, IL where they spend three days embodying the mission of the JWF: Leadership, Service and Sportsmanship.  

The Wynners work hard and play hard during their time away at camp. They collaborate on developing the strategic plan for the upcoming program year, participate in team-building activities, and nominate other community organizations to impact throughout the year.  Having a wide age range of Wynners attend camp is intentional and allows the high school Wynners to mentor and lead many of the activities and the often spirited debates.

Camp is one of the highlights of the year for the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy, kick-starting our year and creating a forum for our Wynners to build life-long bonds and friendships.  We believe that every Wynner should be able to attend the leadership camp and work diligently to ensure there are no barriers to getting them there!

JWLA camp

The JWLA is a wonderfully enriching experience that allows youth of different ages from across Evanston to build friendships, problem solving skills, and confidence.

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The Catherine McKnight Scholarship Award

The Justin Wynn Fund is pleased to announce the Catherine McKnight Scholarship Award, open to all graduating ETHS seniors.  Mrs. McKnight, or as she was lovingly known, Granny, was the matriarch of the Wynn family and was beloved by all who knew her, including the countless students she taught over her long career at District 65. She was also an unwavering supporter of the Justin Wynn Fund.  Starting in 2019, the Justin Wynn Fund will award two $1,000 scholarships annually to graduating ETHS seniors who demonstrate a passion for education and community service.

PARTNERS

During the 2017-18 program year, the JWLA partnered with the following community organizations:

  • A Just Harvest Community Kitchen, Chicago
  • Alliance for the Great Lakes, Evanston
  • Allow Good, Evanston
  • Beth Emet Synagogue, Evanston
  • Campus Kitchens, Northwestern University
  • Chicago Canine Rescue, Chicago
  • Connections for the Homeless, Evanston
  • The Cradle, Evanston
  • Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association, Evanston
  • Gates Manor, Wilmette
  • Habitat for Humanity, Kenosha, WI
  • Harvest Food Pantry, Evanston
  • Hemenway Methodist Church Soup Kitchen, Evanston
  • Hilda’s Place, Evanston
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago
  • The Mather, Evanston
  • McGaw YMCA, Evanston
  • Meals at Home, Evanston
  • Open Books, Chicago
  • Park School, Evanston
  • Parks & Recreation Adopt-a-Park, Evanston
  • PEER Services, Evanston
  • Pennies for Peace, Bozeman, MT
  • School District 65, Evanston
  • School District 202, Evanston
  • She Is Code, Evanston
  • The Talking Farm, Skokie
  • United Way

A portion of the proceeds raised at the 14th annual JWLA 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on March 11, 2018 was donated to the Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association (ESCCA)

A portion of the proceeds raised at the 2nd annual JWF SoccerFest on September 2, 2018 was donated to Books and Breakfast.

NEWS

The 2018 Justin Wynn Fund SoccerFest

On a hot and humid September day, 115 soccer players from 1st through 8th grade came together to play in the annual Justin Wynn SoccerFest at ETHS Lazier Field.  The day was a true celebration of community and soccer as players affiliated with area organizations like AYSO, JaHbat, Team Evanston, Chicago Fire Juniors North Shore,…
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The 2018 Justin Wynn Awards Brunch

Congratulations to the 2018 Justin Wynn Award recipients!  These 24 fourth grade students from across District 65 were honored at the annual brunch held at the Hilton Orrington/Evanston.  Close to 300 people attended the ceremony, including Mayor Hagerty, Dr. Witherspoon, and Dr. Goren. Pictured with the 2018 Justin Wynn Award recipients from left to right…
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The 2018 JWLA 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament

Thank you to the over 200 players who participated in our tournament.  New this year, we added a 7th/8th grade tournament and it sold out!
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The 2018 Red Tie Soirée

The Justin Wynn Fund Red Tie Soirée was a huge success!  Thank you to the almost 200 attendees who helped us raise over $41,000.  This money will be used to support our community service based youth leadership program.
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JWLA Holds 10th annual November Food Drive

More than 60 youth (grades 5-12) from the Justin Wynn Fund leadership program gathered in Kingsley School’s gym to sort and bag food that they had collected from their neighbors as part of the organization’s 10th annual November Food Drive.  Some of the students and their families then delivered over 200 bags of groceries to…
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A successful relaunch of SoccerFest!

140 players from all the Evanston soccer organizations participated in SoccerFest, held on September 3rd at ETHS. Thank you to all the volunteers, community members and in-kind donors who helped make SoccerFest a big success!
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