We are committed to making a positive impact in the communities in which we live and work.

Girl in front of her laptop taking part in a remote class. The girl has two pigtails and a rainbow-striped shirt. She holds a pencil and looks at the teacher, who smiles back at her from the computer screen.

Vibrant communities provide value to all their constituencies: Individuals, families, businesses and institutions have more opportunities to grow and thrive. We believe it is important to support organizations that contribute to making each area a place where current and future employees want to live and work.

Horace Mann’s headquarters location is in Springfield, Ill., where we are among the area’s largest private employers. Other geographic markets with established locations include Dallas; Madison, Wisc.; and Cherry Hill, N.J. In 2022, the Horace Mann Educators Foundation directed $171,500 to charitable organizations that serve our communities.

Given the size of our Springfield workforce relative to population, we are especially invested in the long-term success of the community. We are one of the largest annual supporters of the United Way of Central Illinois. Our contribution supports basic and educational needs in the community, such as targeted educational programs addressing kindergarten readiness, on-time achievement and graduating with a plan.

Supporting student literacy & libraries

Literacy is foundational to students’ academic success. The HMEF is proud to support efforts to provide equitable resources to all students and to address early literacy learning gaps. With 2022 support from the Foundation:

  • Springfield Public Schools will modernize two elementary school libraries that had repeatedly been downsized due to space constraints. Each will add a calming reading space, flexible seating and space for small groups to meet, in addition to restocking reading materials. The upgrades will bring the two schools to an equitable level with new and renovated schools in the district.

  • Richardson (Texas) Independent School District will expand their “We Read Together” program to an additional 300 students in 12 schools. The program at the Dallas-area district aims to address early literacy learning gaps before children reach third grade. It provides students with books, literacy games and one-on-one mentors.

  • Cherry Hill (N.J.) Public Schools will upgrade learning materials in school libraries across the district, including virtual reality devices for instruction on topics like careers and world cultures.

Supporting “home-grown” teacher training

The U.S. teacher shortage is accelerating, affecting both teachers’ ability to perform their jobs well and students’ ability to succeed in school. One factor discouraging students from pursuing education as a career is the high student loan debt burden associated with attaining the one or more degrees needed. This is especially true when taking into account relatively low public sector starting salaries.

In 2022, the Foundation supported the expansion of Lincoln Land Community College’s “Teacher Pipeline Initiative.” The program covers the cost of tuition, fees and books for central Illinois high school juniors and seniors to take education classes at the Springfield campus. Students complete the program with up to 14 credit hours accrued toward an associate degree.

Addressing child hunger

Educators have long identified hunger as a major obstacle to students’ physical and mental development. The Horace Mann Educators Foundation contributes to food pantry programs – many hosted at schools – through the North Texas Food Bank, the Food Bank of South Jersey, the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

For the past two years, the Foundation has funded the Central Illinois Foodbank’s “Healthy Foods Distribution” program for Harvard Park Elementary School families. In 2022, the program provided nearly 40,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy and protein to families with students at the Title I school. In addition to providing a measure of stability to families, the Foodbank aims to improve children’s knowledge of healthy eating. The program is continuing in 2023.