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Northwestern University Dance Marathon

From Our Neighborhood News, Fall 2022

Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) made a successful in-person return for its 48th year, raising more than half a million dollars for two local nonprofits.

On March 4–6, hundreds of students took a break from studying for finals to dance from a Friday evening until early Sunday morning. It was all in fun—and an effort to raise money for Chicago Youth Programs and the Evanston Community Foundation.

“We are so happy that we finally got the opportunity to introduce three classes of dancers to the magic of NUDM after a pandemic-induced hiatus," says Cady DeCamara, executive cochair of the event.

While Chicago Youth Programs was 2022’s primary beneficiary of funds raised, this was the 25th consecutive year that the Evanston Community Foundation has been the secondary beneficiary. ECF invests in the Evanston community through grants, leadership development, and capacity building.

“It’s so interesting that it’s the 25th anniversary, because that’s older than all the students involved now,” says executive cochair Daniel Birmingham.

“It’s really cool that, every year, we know ECF is going to be a partner,” he adds, noting that it’s important for students to recognize that “they can’t sit back and just exist for four years—they have to give back to the community. Supporting Evanston is something that every student should prioritize.”

The NUDM student board participates in the ECF grant-making process alongside other community leaders.

“It’s so rewarding that a 21-year-old gets to be part of that conversation,” Birmingham says. “This is a cool checkpoint to reflect on what we’ve done with them for the past 25 years.”

ECF president and CEO Sol Anderson agrees: “Students arrive at Northwestern and spend four years giving back to the city we love: Evanston. Nothing demonstrates that better than Dance Marathon. We appreciate NUDM’s commitment and the bold and beautiful way they lead—always with a smile on their faces.”

Northwestern president Morton Schapiro joined students for part of Saturday afternoon. He cited the necessary health protocols in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as one reason why an in-person event could make a comeback this year.

“I’m so proud of the efforts of all the student volunteers,” he says. “They’ve had to deal with a lot over the last two years. I believe their efforts, with the support from alumni and the Evanston and greater Chicago communities, will make a real difference for this year’s beneficiaries.”

Dance Marathon is one of the largest entirely student-run philanthropies in the nation. Since 1975, it has raised more than $22 million for nearly three dozen charities.

“We get to empower such a large portion of the student body and introduce them to these causes,” Birmingham says, noting that 15 percent of the undergraduate student body participates in the event. “I’ve just developed so much love for this organization.”

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