Econ Illinois’ American Dream fundraiser proves successful

NIU President Doug Baker (lower left) attended the April 30 banquet.
NIU President Doug Baker (lower left) attended the April 30 banquet.

Education-based nonprofit Econ Illinois, the state’s leading provider of economic education and financial literacy programs for K-12 schools, held the eighth annual American Dream Dinner April 30 at the Union League Club of Chicago.

The event welcomed nearly 250 guests and was one of the most successful in the history of the organization. All proceeds will directly fund the mission and programs of Econ Illinois.

Under the leadership of new President and Executive Director Nancy Hanlon Harrison – Hanlon Harrison took over the position in August of 2014 – the event added an exciting new live auction component resulting in on-site revenue of more than $100,000.

The high energy of the auction brought a tangible buzz to the air as guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner while bidding on spectacular items and travel experiences: A week-long African safari, 10-person stay at a private villa in Tuscany and one-of-a-kind collection of high-quality wines were just a few of the packages taken home by top bidders in support of Econ Illinois.

“On behalf of Econ Illinois, I am so thankful to see such generosity from so many of our biggest supporters,” Hanlon Harrison said. “With the 2015 American Dream Dinner, we have taken things to a new level of excitement for our guests while making huge strides in fundraising. The importance of providing economic education and financial literacy to our young people cannot be overstated, and we can clearly see from the support shown tonight that the work we do is highly valued in our communities.”

Following the auction, Karen Jordan of ABC7 News guided guests through a program that featured a special award presentation and several engaging speakers.

  • Pamela C. Piarowski, senior vice president of finance at BMO Harris Bank, was presented with the inaugural American Dream Leadership award in recognition of her extensive service and dedication to Econ Illinois. A member of the organization’s board for the past seven years, Piarowski has been instrumental in advocating for and supporting the growth of economic education and financial literacy programs for K-12 students in Illinois.
  • Joe Guinan, founding chairman and CEO at Advantage Futures, joined Piarowski on stage to introduce Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, where they presented her with a customized piece of student artwork created during Econ Illinois’ annual Economics Concepts Poster Contest.
  • Sanguinetti spoke passionately about the crucial economics education she received in her own life, and explained how her family is in many ways emblematic of the “American Dream.”

Econ Illinois logoThe night wrapped up by highlighting those who truly benefit most from the support provided by Econ Illinois: teachers and students.

Jim Owens, math and economics teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, was joined on stage by his award-winning students Malcolm Broda, Aaron Castillo, Miro Ehrfeld and Jack Kohler. The Illinois high school state champions of the Stock Market Game presented two entertaining skits, giving the audience an inside look into one of Econ Illinois’ most popular and powerful programs.

Sponsors for the event included Partner of the Year BMO Harris Bank; Honorary Chair Sponsor Advantage Futures, LLC; Speaker Sponsor CBOE; Reception Sponsor Interactive Brokers; President’s Circle Sponsor IMC Financial Markets; and Director’s Circle Sponsors Ernst & Young, OptionsHouse, CME Group, KPMG LLP, Apex/PEAK6 and Deloitte.

Econ Illinois will announce the date for the 2016 American Dream Dinner soon. For more information, call (815) 753-0356.

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