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Who We Are

Mission & History

Students, teachers, staff, and parents. Alumni, friends, and community partners. Together, we are Rockford.


The Rockford Education Foundation (REF) provides funding for educational opportunities, both basic and innovative, in the Rockford community. We do this by supporting educational programs and services within the geographic boundaries of the Rockford Public Schools. 


The Rockford Education Foundation supports education in our community as we have since 1991 when a visionary group of leaders created REF to fill school funding shortfalls by supporting teachers, classrooms, and students. 

Over the years we have walked alongside our educational leaders and teachers as they identify projects that are high priority and high need.  REF has funded thousands of grants in the areas of Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), College & Career Readiness, the Fine Arts, and Social & Emotional Wellness. 

In its first twenty years, REF awarded $1 million in grants to support hundreds of projects that enhance learning. We set the goal to double our giving by REF’s 30th Anniversary. We are proud to have given $2 million to educational programs and projects in the Rockford community.