DuPage United was founded and exists today to change systems and structures that are unjust.
In 1997 a group of clergy and lay leaders met with an organizer affiliated with Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and began exploring how to establish a broad-based community organization in DuPage County. DuPage Sponsors was officially incorporated in December 1999. DuPage Sponsors is a 501(c)3 dedicated to leadership training and development.
In 2003 DuPage Sponsors held its founding convention with 2500 people attending. A platform of issues was ratified and DuPage United (DU) was established as the public face of the organization. DuPage United is a 501(c)4, which allows it to lobby lawmakers if needed. The organization maintains both entities.
DuPage United is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest network of community organizations throughout the U.S., England, Germany, Australia, and Canada.
We build relational power by developing institution-based leadership, building relationships within and between institutions, identifying and researching issues of mutual interest, and taking disciplined, organized action.
This work allows DuPage United to develop a constituency of leaders who become citizens in the fullest sense: participants in democratic decision-making and change agents for a more just society.
DuPage United is an independent, self-funding organization which receives no government money. We are funded through dues-paying members, grants, individual contributions and other fund-raising efforts.
Major Issues and Accomplishments
Religious Freedom: Defeated a proposed county zoning ordinance that would have prohibited places of worship from building or expanding in residential areas. Also won a long battle for county board approval to build a mosque in Willowbrook after repeated denials for a zoning variance.
Education/Immigration: Protected and expanded tuition-free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at College of DuPage, impacting more than 2000 students.
Government Reform: Identified financial mismanagement of a government entity, the DuPage Water Commission (DWC). Was instrumental is passing two state laws. The first stripped DWC of a 1/4 cent sales tax beginning in 2016, saving taxpayers $35 million a year and eliminating a regressive tax that falls disproportionately on low-income residents. The second adds transparency to appointed commissions by requiring those appointed by county boards to submit financial, personnel and contract documentation.
Workforce Development: Leveraged a commitment of $200,000 from DuPage County to support a pilot project connecting good people to good jobs. DuPage United launched Career Connect Metro West to recruit candidates for two established organizations that were ready link those prospects to needed resources, train them and place them into existing unfilled good-paying jobs. The ability of Career Connect to recruit unemployed and underemployed candidates from our own institutional members and from other non-profits greatly exceeded the ability of the partners to train and place those candidates. The pilot program will be evaluated and revamped going forward and additional training/placement partners sought.
County Safety Net: Took the lead in getting funding reinstated for the DuPage County Human Service Grants Fund every year since 2008. This has provided over $7 million to non-profits to assist with food, shelter, and other basic needs.
Awards: Received the Interfaith Unity Award from the Islamic Society of North America and the United Methodist Bishops' Award for Ecumenical and Interfaith Work.