In 1999, Dolores D. and Allen L. Gustafson started the Gustafson Family Charitable Trust, also known as the Gustafson Family Foundation (GFF). The GFF was born out of their hard work, modest lifestyle and philanthropic passions. A Swedish immigrant, Al left high school to begin working as a delivery boy for Cannonball in Chicago, a company that would soon be purchased by UPS. Forty-eight years later he retired from UPS as Regional Manager of their Midwest Region. Throughout his career UPS stock was part of Al's compensation package, and throughout their lifetime, he and Dolores never sold a share of the company that meant so much to them.
Dolores' work centered on the home where she raised two children. She had a gift for making fast friends and developed relationships with people who often go unnoticedwait staff, hotel housekeepers and children. Their philanthropy began with the acts of charity Dolores extended to people she had gotten to know, such as dental work for a maid she met on vacation or private schooling for a child she thought just needed a chance.
In time, the philanthropy of Dolores and Allen became focused primarily on children. Believing education to be the great equalizer of opportunity, they invested in St. Margaret Mary School in the South Bronx. Through their efforts they helped rebuild a school and church, enabling a community to pursue its dreams and reach its potential. In addition to education, they targeted their giving to organizations serving children struggling from neglect and illness. Toward the end of their lives, each year they would give more than three dollars away for every dollar they spent on themselves.
The trustees of the Gustafson Family Foundation work to preserve the founder's legacy of philanthropy by honoring their intentions, partnering with organizations and communities for the long-term, and investing in the development of others with their same spirit of generosity. Since its inception, the GFF has invested over $6,000,000 with our partner organizations in DuPage, Cook, and Kane counties with a focus on advancing early childhood education and pediatric healthcare.
In 2008, the GFF became the lead anchor funder for the Educare of West DuPage childhood research from the lab to the classroom through the development of a network of excellence. More than just physical spaces where children receive exceptional early education and care, Educare centers are also catalysts for change that spark local and national discussions about investing in young children and improving public policy.
Educare of West DuPage began serving children and families in the fall of 2011. It's creation was made possible because of the leadership partners who worked tirelessly to bring this exceptional resource to the Western Suburbs. In its work with Educare of West DuPage, the GFF is proud to partner with West Chicago School District 33 , the Pritzker Children's Initiative and Positive Parenting DuPage.
The GFF is equally proud of its partnership with the DuPage Community Foundation. In an effort to continue to strengthen early childhood education for children at risk in the western suburbs, the GFF invested $1,000,000 in the DuPage Community Foundation's Communityworks Project. An endowment administered by the DuPage Community Foundation, the Communityworks Project will be improving the capacity and quality of early childhood programs in DuPage County for decades to come.
As it looks to the future, the Gustafson Family Foundation will continue to concentrate on building strong relationships with its partnering organizations serving the needs of young children at risk. Early childhood education and pediatric healthcare will remain its areas of focus. As the population of at risk families continues to shift from urban to suburban areas, the GFF will give preference to initiatives and programs serving communities in the western suburbs.