Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

The McKinley Foundation at the University of Illinois has served students and the larger campus community in Champaign-Urbana for nearly 100 years. Our mission is to engage and empower students to reflect and act on social issues of justice, diversity, and sustainability. Although the Foundation, a sister organization to McKinley Church, is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), its campus ministry and community outreach respects the many spiritual traditions (including none) of those we serve. The Foundation also owns and operates Presby Hall, a residence hall for UIUC students.

Rates of food insecurity on college campuses is staggeringly high across the country. McKinley helps to address this problem by serving free meals to food insecure students on a weekly basis. We are part of a network of churches and organizations who do the same. We hold a Flamingo Fundraising campaign each fall to support this program.

Students aren’t the only ones in our community facing food insecurity. McKinley Church and Foundation operate a food pantry out of the Garden Hills Elementary School in north Champaign. The Foundation has a community garden on the front lawn of our building where community and student volunteers raise organic produce that supplies clients at the food pantry. Anyone can help at the Giving Garden. We meet each Monday at 5:30 p.m. to plant, weed, and harvest. No gardening experience necessary!

McKinley provides a safe space for students from all backgrounds to grow into awareness of and leadership in social justice endeavors. We provide opportunities for students to volunteer in meeting the needs of our communities as well as participate in social justice through the arts.

Artists’ Alley, located in the lobby of McKinley Foundation, showcases local and national artists with exhibits that reflect of values. This fall, in conjunction with Pridefest, our exhibit titled “Resist Erasure” will feature artwork from area high school and college students. The theme is meant to inspire students to respond to the current political climate toward 2SLGBTQIA+ students and young adults.

Our film committee regularly hosts free movie screenings. We show movies that might be harder to access for the general public and that address our core values. Invited speakers help illuminate the issues and relate them to our audience. Recently, we hosted the Academy-nominated documentary “All That Breathes,” beautiful documentary from India follows two brothers who run a bird hospital dedicated to rescuing injured black kites, surrounded by environmental toxicity and civil unrest un New Delhi.

This Saturday, we are hosting a celebration and fundraiser that will highlight our community grant giving program. Throughout the year, McKinley awards 12 grants up to $1,000 to organizations and individuals whose work or special project falls within at least one of these categories: racial justice and equality; healthcare; education; environmental activism; food and housing insecurities; gender equality; and LGBTQ activism. This year’s grant recipients will be there to talk about how the funds received made a difference to their work. And we will raise funds for next year’s grant recipients. 100% of donations go directly back to the community through the grants. You can purchase tickets or donate on our website at