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Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

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More than 21 years after his death, Joseph H. Cannon’s legacy of generosity continues to grow.

On Monday, seven area organizations received checks totaling $80,172 from the Champaign Rotary Club grants that bear Mr. Cannon’s name.

The recipients and their projects are as follows:

  • Champaign County History Museum. $15,000 toward a new roof at their historic Cattle Bank building.
  • Crisis Nursery. $7,000 to purchase additional security equipment for their building.
  • Development Services Center. $9,672 to purchase outdoor tables and chairs for their group homes.
  • Eastern Illinois Foodbank. $9,000 toward electrical posts to keep the fuel in their diesel-powered trucks from freezing or gelling.
  • Prairieland Council, Boy Scouts of America. $14,500 to purchase equipment for their traveling Invention Lab.

WEFT, $10,000 toward replacement of their building’s roof.

Youth Build NFP, a program of the housing authority of Champaign County. $15,000 to purchase tools for their student construction employment program.

Later in life, Mr. Cannon, a Champaign High School and University of Illinois graduate, arranged for a trust to be established from part of his estate. He passed away Oct. 23, 2000.

The $1 million gift for the Champaign Rotary Foundation’s use has produced $1.6 million in charitable grants since 2003. And counting.

Each year, the earnings from the trust determine the amount available.

Wide net

For 2021, 13 organizations submitted grant requests.

“It’s always a very interesting process,” said Joan Dixon, co-chair of the committee that awards the grants. “The committee looks at the greatest need.”

The committee receives plenty of information from the applicants. It ranks them and discusses what will be granted. It is a time-consuming process with a valuable payoff.

Often, Dixon said, the organizations don’t receive their total request.

The most they can ask for is $20,000. No organization was awarded that much for 2021.

“We want to spread it as much as we can,” Dixon said.

Closing a void

The Rotary program is for just durable goods.

“Most government grants and other kinds of grants are for programming,” Dixon said. “The organizations have to come up some money from somewhere to get these durable items. That’s a niche we can fill.”

The organizations that are helped by the Cannon grants appreciate the support.

They were represented at Monday’s meeting, which was held at Champaign’s Holiday Inn, 101 Trade Center Drive.

They had a chance to say thanks and talk about how they would use the funds.

The number of organizations making grant requests has been steady. Last year, there were 14.

Organizations are allowed to apply for one of the grants every year.

The nonprofits in Champaign County are aware of the opportunity for funding.

Applicants must be sponsored by a member of Champaign Rotary, a group of about 150.

Often, the grants are acknowledged with on-site plaques — a shoutout to Champaign Rotary. Though not necessary, the gesture is appreciated.

Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-393-8248 or by email at

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