10 reasons to attend Bridging the Divide: Building Community in Illinois:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Webinars. Blog posts. Podcasts. Conference Calls. How-to videos. All are great ways to learn new skills and hone the ones you have, but despite their myriad benefits, none of them can compare to the opportunities offered by attending live, in-person conferences. And for the social impact sector, conferences are about so much more than skill acquisition; it's about leveraging the creativity, power, and knowledge of everyone involved in the fight for the common good so we can do MORE good, and we can do it better.

So that alone is a pretty good reason. But for those of you that remain unconvinced...

Here are 10 reasons to attend Bridging the Divide: Building Community in Illinois:

  1. Meet your sector soulmate + build your community: Or, in other words, networking! This is one of the biggest benefits of attending conferences, one that can't be duplicated through webinars and blog posts. Come for the chance to meet, greet, and bond with members of Illinois' social impact sector. 
  2. Free food: Let's be honest, isn't one of the best parts of conferences the chance to chat with colleagues and sector pros over free food? Networking is, of course, one of the primary benefits of any conference, and we're providing plenty of ample networking opportunities...but sometimes our most meaningful connections are forged over a shared love of donuts while perusing the breakfast buffet. So we've got you covered; plenty of mealtime, breaks, and food to sow the seeds of important relationships in a low-key setting!
  3. Obed and Isaac's: We're going to Springfield, a city with a rich brewing tradition, and the home of an amazing microbrewery you might not get to sample otherwise! Obed and Isaac's is a popular microbrewery and eatery located right near the conference hotel. With an extensive food menu and craft beer selection, it's the perfect place to unwind with your new bffs.
  4. Get outside your comfort zone: The size of our state and our ideological divides can make it easy to make assumptions about those that live outside our usual purview. However, to serve our state and our state social impact sector, it's so important we push outside our entrenched worldviews and see what it's like on the other side. At Bridging the Divide, we'll participate in reflective conversations around how we can all contribute to a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive democracy.  We all want the same thing-a stronger, more vibrant Illinois for ALL our communities. How do we do that? By doing it together. 
  5. Learn from national experts: We are beyond excited that Beth Kanter and Jan Masaoka will be joining us as speakers during the conference. Both powerhouses in their own right, these women have made names for themselves as leaders in the social impact sector. Beth Kanter is a renowned nonprofit guru and educator, and Jan Masaoka is a sector thought-leader and CEO. And they're just the tip of the iceberg
  6. America's pastime...and an Illinois rivalry: There's another divide throughout Illinois. A big one. One so massive it seems we may never full get past it. The Chicago Cubs....versus the Saint Louis Cardinals. The rift run deeps and it will be alive and well during the conference; we have exclusive access to the Cubs/Cardinals exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library + Museum during our evening reception! Come in your team's colors and armed with your best trash talk.
  7. Get to know the real Eric Weinheimer: Forefront President + CEO Eric Weinheimer is PUMPED for this conference. So pumped, in fact, that the Forefront staff is pretty certain they can convince him to let his hair down a little (an especially impressive feat, given his current hairstyle). Tap dancing and karaoke have both been suggested. 
  8. Biggest bang for your buck: Forefront's annual conference is the premier convening of nonprofit, grantmakers, business and civic leaders in Illinois. You won’t find an event that offers this much content, and this many inspiring speakers anywhere else, and definitely not this close to home. 
  9. Recharge your inner unicorn: Working in the social impact sector isn't always easy. We tackle enormous problems and we're constantly striving for a better tomorrow. It can be awesome...and it can be exhausting. But this conference is a great time to get away from the day-to-day minutiae to collaborate, commiserate, energize, and excite each other about our work. You’ll leave supercharged with great ideas, your unicorn horn asparkle with renewed inspiration

And last but not least...

  1. The horseshoes: We don't mean the lawn game, we mean the sandwich. The horseshoe is an open-faced sandwich phenomenon that was born in Springfield and quickly spread throughout the Midwest. It's been featured on the Food Network and should be on everyone's 'must-try' list. (Four words: Texas toast. Meat. Cheese sauce.)